EXCLUSIVE: Former Women in Film president Cathy Schulman, now president/CEO of Welle Entertainment, doesn’t only talk the talk but is walking the walk about getting more female-strong projects into the pipeline. The executive and producer has been on a buying spree of late, acquiring six new, female-facing IP titles which are being developing for both film and TV — one with Gabrielle Union.
They come in the form of five books and one play. In the list of female-oriented projects, Welle Entertainment has first acquired the rights to two novels that will be developed into feature films:
The Idea of You, an erotic drama with Gabrielle Union (Being Mary Jane) producing through her production company I’ll Have Another along with Robinne Lee, Eric Hayes and Jeff Morrone, which is about a 39-year old mom in Los Angeles who takes her daughter to meet her favorite boyband, and in turn the 20-year old singer falls in love with the Mom. The film is based on the novel that was published in June 2017 by Robinne Lee (St. Martin’s Griffin). This is the third book that I’ll Have Another has optioned. The option deal was negotiated by attorney Jamie Feldman and book agent Richard Pine (Inkwell). Union’s reps are CAA, Atlas Artists and attorney Patti Felker.
Worth noting that Schulman while working at STX was one of the key people involved with the comedy Bad Moms, which grossed $183.9M worldwide and then spawned a sequel, Bad Moms Christmas which added another $130.5M worldwide to the franchise’s coffers. After that Bad Dads (in development) spun-off from that.
The second novel to be made into a feature is Midnight Magnolia, which is inspired by a soon to be published YA book by A.M. Barsam. Set in a dystopian future where a despotic American President obsessed with immortality steals teenage girls to act as his poison tasters – a fail-safe measure to protect him from mutiny and murder. Deborah Del Prete (Enders Game, The Wedding Planner) will also produce.
In television, on the series front, Welle Entertainment has obtained the rights to three books and one play, all of which will also be produced with Gaspin Media, led by former head of NBC Jeff Gaspin. They are:
The Mirror Man, author Jane Gilmartin’s upcoming novel which Mira Books will publish in 2019. An hour long drama series about Jeremiah Adams, a man having a mid-life crisis who takes part in a revolutionary scientific experiment involving a clone of himself. Making a $10M deal with the devil, he must observe his clone live his own life, with his wife and son, for one year, during which he can’t interfere with himself, which he doesn’t end up liking at all. The deal was negotiated by UTA and Publishing Agent Will Roberts at The Gernert Company.
Everything Must Go, inspired by the 2017 first novel in a series by Jenny Fran Davis (Wednesday Books), is being developed into a half hour comedic drama series written by Chloe Keenan (Transparent). The story centers on a tony Upper Eas Side prep school junior who falls in love with a summer TA, following him to a hippie Quaker school in the Hudson Valley for her senior year. When he doesn’t show up to teach, she’s stuck in a yurt where she learns more about herself than she ever thought possible.
Welle Entertainment has also purchased the rights to the play Transfers, written by multiple award-winning (including an OBIE for The Hill Town Plays), playwright Lucy Thurber, which premiered at the MCC Theater in April 2018. Thurber will adapt the play herself as a one-hour drama for TV. Transfers is about two disadvantaged young men from the South Bronx, who have each been nominated for a scholarship to attend an elite university.
These projects are in addition to Deadline’s exclusive yesterday, that Welle Entertainment and Gaspin Media it is also developing Mr. Nice Guy, based on the just published novel by Jennifer Miller and Jason Feifer (Griffin), which
is being developed into a half-hour ongoing dramedy series written by Laura McCreary (Fresh Off The Boat, Brooklyn 9-9)
Since establishing herself with Welle Entertainment, Schulman has taken a hands-on approach, not only in identifying and securing the production rights but also in developing and producing company projects. She works closely with other producers as well to incubate projects in-house so that they can avoid long and complicated development with studio, streaming and network partners.
Earlier this year, Welle Entertainment nabbed Alpha Girls, the highly anticipate book about the most successful women in venture capital by best-selling author Julian Guthrie.
Schulman and Viola Davis are also producing The Woman King at Tri-Star Pictures together, with Davis and Lupita Nyong’o. Maria Bello and Julius Tennon are also producing.
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