EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has put together a monstrous package around the satirical Simon Rich New Yorker short story “Everyday Parenting Tips” that has Rich scripting for Ryan Reynolds to star and Paddington‘s Paul King to direct. Lord Miller’s Phil Lord, Chris Miller and Aditya Sood will produce along with Maximum Effort Productions’ Reynolds and George Dewey, and Rich.
Now, a fairly short essay guide to dispensing parenting tips seems banal, but not this one: A father offers advice on what to say when their child says they believe a monster lurks under the bed — at a time when an ongoing Monster Uprising is actually happening in the world. The creature pandemic has unleashed the likes of Gorgog the Annihilator, Ctharga the Eater of Souls and a “giant, swirling portal in the sky that looks like a screaming mouth” that is simply called Drain of Ga.
Rich will write the script. A short story is also the way he hatched An American Pickle, which HBO Max releases tomorrow with Seth Rogen playing an immigrant who falls into a vat of pickle brine and emerges perfectly preserved a century later. Rich has written an array of humorous New Yorker essays that include one in which the Messiah re-emerges for a press conference to announce he’s returned to bring salvation to humanity and end hunger and hardship. When he mistakenly calls on Al Sharpton to ask a question but calls him Al Roker, he winds up at the center of a media maelstrom the likes of which Ellen DeGeneres is experiencing right now, not even helped when he resurrects a reluctant Martin Luther King Jr to vouch for him.
Rich, whose credits include Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out and the Steve Buscemi-Daniel Radcliffe series Miracle Workers, is a terrific high-concept essayist. Universal and its filmmakers embraced Everyday Parenting Tips (timely in a pandemic) as a potential four-quadrant big-scale family action comedy. It hooked King, who — after the Paddington films — is offered everything and is hard to get.
Lord Miller, which has a first-look deal with Universal, brought the project to the studio shortly after hearing Rich’s pitch based on his article, led by LM president Aditya Sood. The studio moved quickly to lock in the rights, and Rich sold the rights to the story in a pre-emptive deal. Universal’s SVP Production Sara Scott will oversee the project on behalf of the studio.
Rich is repped by UTA and Eastman & Eastman; Reynolds is WME and Sloane, Offer; Lord Miller is represented by UTA and Ziffren Brittenham; and King is WME, Independent Talent Group and Nelson Davis.