FilmNation Acquires Susan Choi’s ‘Trust Exercise’ Novel To Develop As A Limited TV Series

Susan Choi
Credit: Heather Weston

EXCLUSIVE: FilmNation Entertainment (Arrival, The Big Sick) is expanding its television slate with the acquisition of Susan Choi’s 2019 National Book Award winner Trust Exercise for development as a limited TV series, with Choi attached to pen the adaptation.

Based on the book, Trust Exercise the series is set in an American suburb in the early 1980s, where a group of students at a highly competitive performing arts high school struggle and thrive in a rarified bubble. When they eventually reconnect as adults, their world is upended and we realize that what we believe happened to them is not entirely true―though it’s not false, either.

FilmNation’s Hannah Getts brought Choi’s book in to the company. Getts will oversee the series with Stefanie Berk, FilmNation Entertainment EVP, Television. FilmNation Entertainment will serve as the studio.

Published April 9 by Macmillan, Trust Exercise has been listed on The New York Times Critics’ Top Books of 2019, Time Magazine’s 10 Best Fiction Books of 2019, and the New Yorker’s Best Books of 2019.

“The minute we read Trust Exercise we were blown away by Susan’s bold, inventive structure and her exquisite writing,” said Berk. “The book explores how we use the process of storytelling to come to terms with the traumas of the past in order to control how our own narratives unfold. The book is a revelation, and FilmNation is excited to be working with Susan to adapt it into a limited series for television.”

“I am thrilled to adapt Trust Exercise into a television series with FilmNation – a company that has a great history of empowering artists to create distinctive and award-winning content,” said Choi. “It’s been incredibly exciting to explore my book anew with such great partners. They have expanded the way I see this story, the characters and its form.”

Trust Exercise is Choi’s fifth novel. Her first novel, The Foreign Student, won the Asian-American Literary Award for fiction. Her second novel, American Woman, was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize and was adapted into a film. Her third novel, A Person of Interest, was a finalist for the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award. In 2010 she was named the inaugural recipient of the PEN/W.G. Sebald Award. Her fourth novel, My Education, received a 2014 Lammy Award. Her first book for children, Camp Tiger, came out earlier this year.

Trust Exercise adds to a growing slate of television for FilmNation which includes Mark Ruffalo starrer I Know This Much Is True with HBO, an upcoming adaptation of Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits, and John Updike’s Rabbit, Run. FilmNation Entertainment is the independent entertainment company behind Oscar-winning Arrival and breakout box office hit The Big Sick.

Choi is repped by Jin Auh at The Wylie Agency.

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