EXCLUSIVE: Millennium Media has signed an exclusive deal with the H.A. and Margaret Rey Estate, authors of the beloved children’s books, Curious George as well with Lay Lee Ong, estate literary executor. This is quite a departure for Millennium, and signals the kind of material it will start to produce with its new president Jeffrey Greenstein and co-president Jonathan Yunger at the helm.
They will start developing an untitled project that will tell the incredible origin story that saved the character Curious George, the true story of H.A. and Margaret Rey. This comes after Millennium Media’s Jonathan Yunger and Jeffrey Greenstein had been chasing the project for nearly two years.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have the Rey estate’s complete confidence and consent, and the approval of Lay Lee, to tell this story. We are also grateful to our friend and writer, Sam Cohan, for bringing us the project,” Yunger said.
It was Cohan who introduced them to Ema Ryan Yamazaki, director of Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curious George’s Creators, a documentary exploring the extraordinary lives of H.A. and Margret Rey. A deal was then signed with Yamazaki to engage her and her documentary for the feature by Cohan.
The Orchard acquired distribution rights to the Yamazaki documentary last year. Meanwhile, a live-action musical based on the character Curious George is works at Universal with Andrew Adamson attached to direct and Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, and Erica Huggins producing alongside David Kirschner and Jon Shapiro. That one is not an origin story.
“The epitome of mixing passion with business is being blessed to tell this tremendous story of the great lengths H.A. and Margaret Rey went through to save their manuscript, while fleeing Nazi occupied Europe for their lives. Curious George went on to inspire and charm millions worldwide, and soon, so shall the Reys’ unbelievable true story,” said Greenstein.
This project comes only a couple off weeks after Greenstein and Yunger were upped to presidnet and co-president at Millennium Media. Producing will be Yunger, Greenstein, Yamasaki and Cohan. Executive producers are Avi Lerner, Trever Short, Boaz Davidson and John Thompson.
While H.A. and Margaret Rey passed away in 1977 and 1996, respectively, the character of Curious George is beloved with children around the world and has been for about 75 years.
There is even a Curious George Foundation which was established in 1989 to fund programs for children and for programs that benefit animals, not only through preservation but also to prevent cruelty to animals. The foundation supports community outreach programs that emphasize the importance of family, from counseling to peer support groups. So, a portion of the film’s proceeds will be donated to that foundation.
Cohan’s other credits include Fishing Without Nets which was co-written with director Cutter Hodierne, and went onto to win the directing prize at the Sundance Film Festival. He also penned The Closest Thing to Rain.
Cohan, who is a graduate of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME, is repped by Jeff Hynick at Jackoway, Tyerman, Wertheimer, Austen, Mandelbaum, Morris & Klein.