EXCLUSIVE: WarnerMedia has chosen a particularly timely subject for one of the first original productions percolating for its streaming service: a YA comedy about a Missouri teen who heads off on a road trip with a friend to seek out a legal abortion. Given today’s bombshell development that Missouri voted to become the first state without an abortion clinic since Roe V Wade, the picture couldn’t be more timely or bold.
Erik Feig’s upstart production company Picturestart will finance an adaptation of the Jenni Hendriks & Ted Caplan novel Unpregnant, producing it with Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter of Berlanti Productions. Rachel Lee Goldenberg (Valley Girl & The Mindy Project) will direct the film. WarnerMedia for days has been unwilling to confirm any of this — understandable given the heated battles in conservative states like Missouri over women’s reproductive rights — but sources tell Deadline the deals are about done. The book will be published by HarperTeen in September.
Unpregnant begins with a 17-year old Missouri teen named Veronica discovering she has gotten pregnant, a development that threatens to end her dreams of matriculating at an Ivy League college, and the career that will follow. She’s got a loser boyfriend and is not remotely ready to be a mother, but her home state requires minors get parental consent for an abortion and they won’t give her permission. If Veronica wants an abortion, she’ll need to travel 900 miles to New Mexico. The desperate girl turns to her cynical ex-best friend Bailey, and the plan is to drive 14 hours to the clinic and return home.
Everything that can go wrong does, and it plays out in a mix of humor and grounded human emotion in the tradition of road trip films like John Hughes’ Planes, Trains & Automobiles.
The film has the chance to hit the zeitgeist with a young audience that is the elusive goal of streaming services, and which Netflix has hit upon with 13 Reasons Why on the issue of teen suicide. I’d been chasing this for several days and didn’t realize why it was so hard to confirm until I saw the Missouri story break on CNN.
Goldenberg is repped by UTA, 831 Entertainment, and Jackoway Tyerman.