EXCLUSIVE: Aggregate Films is developing and will produce a feature adaptation of the hit Off-Broadway play Amy and the Orphans, with Jamie Brewer set to reprise the title role, which earned her both a Theater World Award and a Drama Desk Award in 2018.
Lindsey Ferrentino will adapt her play for the screen, also here making her directorial debut. Jason Bateman and Michael Costigan are developing and producing for Aggregate, with Tracey Nyberg also on board to produce.
In Amy and the Orphans, three adult siblings come together in Montauk after the death of their father and confront the truths of their childhood. Amy has Down syndrome and has spent almost her entire life in group homes, and her older siblings Maggie and Jacob come to realize that she is perhaps a very different person than they had thought.
Edward Barbanell is set for a new role written for the screen, with other roles for Amy and the Orphans currently being cast. Barbanell comes to the project after stepping into the role of Andy in the stage play for two performances a week, when the title of the show shifted to Andy and the Orphans.
With the original, critically acclaimed play, Brewer became the first actor with Down syndrome to lead an Off-Broadway production. She, Ferrentino and Barbanell also received The Arc’s Entertainment Industry Excellence Catalyst Award which honors individuals and organizations that have made extraordinary contributions in the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“We are thrilled to be producing Lindsey’s film and bringing her extraordinary play to the screen,” said Aggregate Films’ Costigan. “In the tradition of great films and shows about complicated families with comedy and heart, “Amy and the Orphans” struck us as a true original. We are thrilled to see Lindsey direct this story that speaks deeply to her, to us, and we think, a wide audience.”
Added Brewer: “I was so lucky to meet Lindsey a long time ago, and I’m so grateful she trusted me to tell her aunt’s story on stage in Amy and The Orphans. This role means so much to me because I can identify with Amy since we both love movies and have Down syndrome. It’s amazing that we can share this experience together. I’m so excited to have this opportunity to work with Lindsey to help take Amy’s inspirational story from the stage to the big screen! Amy’s life is an incredible story of relationships of life and family.”
Brewer is an actress, model and activist best known for starring in several seasons of the award-winning Ryan Murphy anthology series America Horror Story on FX. She has also been seen on such hit series as Southland, Switched at Birth and Station 19, as well as in films like the Russo brothers’ Cherry and the comedy Bromates exec produced by Snoop Dogg. The award-winning actor equally known for her work on stage in 2015 became the first model with Down syndrome to walk as part of New York Fashion Week.
Other produced plays from the award-winning playwright and screenwriter Ferrentino include Ugly Lies the Bone (Roundabout Theatre Company, The National Theatre, UK, NYT Critics Pick), This Flat Earth (Playwrights Horizons) and The Year to Come (La Jolla Playhouse). Ferrentino also has a number of film and TV projects in development and pre-production – from the previously announced adaptation of the Rebecca Alexandra memoir Not Fade Away to films for Netflix, Sony Pictures and Levantine Films. She has original TV projects with Tribeca, Composition 8, UCP, Springhill and Jaywalker Pictures, among others.
Barbanell’s breakthrough film performance came opposite Johnny Knoxville in the 2005 comedy The Ringer. The actor has also been seen in films like Hall Pass, Dumb and Dumber To and Addicted to Fresno, as well as on shows like Loudermilk and Workaholics.
In addition to his work in theatre and on screen, Barbanell is an advocate and athlete for the Special Olympics and has spoken for the “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign. In his role as the Special Olympics International Board Director, he was part of a delegation of athletes and self-advocates who were present for President Obama’s historic signing of Rosa’s Law, banning the use of the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” in federal policy.
Recent releases from Aggregate Films include the fifth and final season of the Bateman-led crime drama Ozark for Netflix; Under the Banner of Heaven for FX; A Teacher, starring Kate Mara and Nick Robinson for FX/Hulu; and The Outsider on HBO, starring Ben Mendelson and Cynthia Erivo. Up next for release is Aggregate’s Netflix rom-com Your Place or Mine, from writer-director Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada). That film, starring Reese Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher, debuts on the platform this Friday, February 10.
Other upcoming Aggregate projects include the Apple TV+ limited series Lessons in Chemistry starring Brie Larson; the Peacock series Based on a True Story starring Kaley Cuoco; and Netflix’s Florida Man series starring Edgar Ramirez.
Brewer and Barbanell are represented by KMR Talent. Ferrentino is with CAA and Mosaic.
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