EXCLUSIVE: The Billion Dollar Spy screenwriter Ben August has just been tapped to adapt the story of Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, the only recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, as a feature film for Walden Media and Oscar nominated producer David Permut.
August will adapt from the book A Woman of Honor: Dr. Mary E. Walker and the Civil War written by Mercedes Graf. The stage play Independence: The True Story of Dr. Mary Walker written by Lloyd J. Schwartz was also acquired.
The project follows Walker’s journey during the Civil War as she struggled to be accepted and compensated in the same manner as her male counterparts in the medical field and ultimately became the first and only female recipient to receive the Congressional Medal Of Honor. Even after receiving her medical degree at Syracuse Medical College, Walker was considered unfit for the Union Army Examining Board and initially was only allowed to serve voluntarily as a surgeon.
While serving in the war, Dr. Walker was captured by Confederate soldiers after boldly crossing enemy lines to treat wounded civilians and was arrested as a spy – eventually being released in a prisoner exchange.
Walker’s story reteams Permut with Walden Media. That studio was originally going to produce Hacksaw Ridge but didn’t proceed given its R-rating, and their commitment to family fare. The Mel Gibson directed movie grossed over $175M WW, and racked up six Oscar noms including Best Director and Best Picture. Naia Cucukov will be overseeing the Dr. Walker project for Walden Media. She will executive produce with Walden Media, CEO, Frank Smith.
The project will also be produced by Jimmy Hawkins, with whom Permut had worked previously on Love Leads the Way, which had the distinction of being the first Disney Channel Original film. Alex Astrachan, Director of Development for Permut Presentations, will also serve as a co-producer on the project.
August’s adaptation of the David E. Hoffman book Billion Dollar Spy has Amma Assante attached to direct.
Permut has a busy year ahead producing a number of high profile projects including Craig Gillespie’s next film Chippendales with Dev Patel attached to star, Sheela for Barry Levinson to direct with Priyanka Chopra attached to star for Amazon, and the sequel to Face/Off with Adam Wingard to direct for Paramount.
August is represented by Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment, Gersh and attorney Rob Szymanski. Permut is represented by John Tishbi of Pearlman & Tishbi, LLP.