EXCLUSIVE: Danny DeVito’s Jersey Film’s 2nd Avenue has optioned the screen rights to Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation, the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Dan Fagin. The film will be produced by Jersey Film’s 2nd Avenue’s principals Danny DeVito, Lucy DeVito and Jake DeVito.
The book is an exposé about a group of families who fought to hold a government and industry accountable for the damage from industrial waste that created a deadly cancer cluster in their seaside New Jersey town. Children were developing cancer at alarming rates, and they were finally scientifically linked to local air and water pollution that stemmed from large chemical companies using Toms River as their private dumping ground. They buried tens of thousands of leaky drums in open pits and discharging billions of gallons of acid-laced wastewater into the town’s namesake river. Unsuspecting pregnant mothers who drank the water bore children who didn’t have a chance. It isn’t surprising that a Jersey guy like DeVito would want to tackle this cautionary tale.
An environmental science journalist, Fagin won the 2014 Pulitzer for General Nonfiction for his hard-hitting investigative reporting that melded the efforts of a cast of locals and the bureaucracy they battled, into a sweeping narrative.
The author is a professor of journalism and the director of the Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program at New York University and spent 15 years as environmental writer for Newsday.
Jersey Film’s 2nd Avenue is represented by CAA; Fagin is represented by CAA on behalf of Jane Dystel of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret.