101 Studios has acquired film and TV rights to Paradise Found, the nonfiction book written by Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke about the small town of Paradise, CA, which was ravaged by the Camp Fire of 2018 but which found hope in its high school football team and longtime coach, Rick Prinz. The distributor-financier is already in the works on a screen adaptation.
The project, also titled Paradise Found, will be produced by sports film and TV regular Mark Ciardi (The Rookie) of Select Films and executive produced by 101’s David Glasser, David Hutkin and Bob Yari.
Prinz said, “11/8/18 at 8:34 AM I sent this text message to the football team- ‘the plan is to practice at 3:00 today. If it is too smoky, we will modify our activity. I will keep you informed if anything changes.’ Eleven minutes later, we were running for our lives. These young men had faced the reality of death. They had lost everything, their possessions, their homes, their town. They were living with relatives, in hotels, trailers, and cars. Some were homeless. I could see the anguish and despair in their eyes. We didn’t have a school, we didn’t have a practice field, we didn’t have cleats, we didn’t even have a football. But we had each other.”
Plaschke, who will also serve as a consultant on the film, added, “Imagine a small-town-football-team story that begins with no town and no team. The rebirth of the Paradise High Bobcats in the wake of a fire that decimated their small mountain village is a tale of 39 displaced kids and their coaches fighting together to overcome tragedy, forge a family, dominate a season, and bond a broken community. When they began spring practice, they didn’t even have a football. When they ended their incredible season, they owned the love of a nation. Uplifting and heartbreaking and ultimately triumphant, the 2019 Paradise Bobcats wrote a comeback story for the ages.”
The deal was negotiated by Glasser and James Allen, represented by Leif Cervantes de Reinstein of Sheppard Mullin. Mauro DiPreta at William Morrow was represented by Susan Canavan and Ashley Lopez of Waxman Literary Agency.
Ciardi previously had an overall first-look deal with Disney for 12 years. He most recently produced Chappaquiddick, and The Miracle Season, as well as the upcoming Disney film Safety. His sports films including The Rookie, Miracle, Invincible, The Game Plan, Secretariat, Million Dollar Arm, and McFarland USA. He also produced the Emmy-winning ESPN 30 for 30 documentary Big Shot as well as 42 to 1 about Buster Douglas’ upset of Mike Tyson.