EXCLUSIVE: Lesli Linka Glatter will direct Universal Pictures’ Ashley’s War, based on The New York Times bestseller written by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon.
Molly Smith Metzler wrote the script. Reese Witherspoon, Bruna Papandrea and Natalie Krinsky will produce. Lemmon will executive produce.
The book tells the story of the creation by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command of a pilot program that allowed elite women soldiers on the battlefield with Green Berets and Army Rangers in Afghanistan in 2010. The unit, CST-2, brought together a hand-picked group of women from the Army, and that included 1st Lt. Ashley White, who would become the first CST member killed in action.
The project was originally set up at Fox 2000 following a heated bidding war in 2015 but after the studio shuttered following the Fox/Disney merger, the rights were put back on the market. Universal was in the mix in 2015 and when studio head Donna Langley got wind the rights were back on the market, she moved quickly to acquire them before another studio could swoop in.
The project also marks another opportunity for Langley to hire a female filmmaker as director, something she has pushed for over the past several years. Some of those other rising female filmmaker stars include Rachel Morrison directing the sports drama Flint Strong and Stella Meghie on the recently released The Photograph.
Universal’s Senior Executive Vice President of Production Erik Baiers and Creative Executive Christine Sun will oversee the project on behalf of the studio.
Glatter has spent the last decade cutting helping turn the Showtime series Homeland into a Emmy-winning global hit. She was involved with some of the shows biggest episodes and in recent years has been on the radar of several studios who see her as someone that could easily transition from television to feature films.
Lemmon’s next big book Daughters of Kobani is set to be published in February and follows a group of Kurdish women that went on the frontlines and helped take down ISIS in their country.
Metzler’s adaptation of Stephanie Land’s award-winning novel Maid is currently in production at Netflix; she is both creator and showrunner, as well as Executive Producer alongside Margot Robbie and John Wells.
Glatter is represented by CAA, Anonymous Content and Lichter, Grossman, Nichols, Adler, Feldman & Clark. Metzler is represented by Grandview and McKuin Frankel Whitehead. Lemmon is repped by Anonymous Content.