YouTube’s ‘Sunshine Girl’ Comes to Print

in Books, Harvey Weinstein, New York Times, Paige McKenzie, Perseus, Sunshine Girl, Television, The Weinstein Company, tv, web series, YouTube

 Nearly five years ago, a chirpy, animated 16-year-old named Paige McKenzie uploaded a 68-second video to YouTube. “Hey everybody, so, I know this is a little strange,” she says, then confides that her house is haunted and she aims to capture the ghost on camera.
More than 130 million views later, Ms. McKenzie’s mockumentary web series, “The Haunting of Sunshine Girl,” has become a full-time job. Each week, Ms. McKenzie spends 80 hours shooting, acting in and editing the show, and frenetically trading messages with viewers.
“Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Tumblr, Google Plus, YouTube, Meerkat, the occasional smoke signals, you know,” she says when asked how she interacts with her audience. “The interaction is key. I’m accessible. My life is on YouTube.”
Now, there’s a nonvirtual place her fans can find her: bookstores. In an odd inversion of the usual page-to-screen adaptation process, Ms. McKenzie is extending her brand into print by turning her YouTube show into a series of young adult novels. The story follows the same arc as the early web episodes, as its teenage heroine and narrator, Sunshine Griffith, investigates the mystery behind a spirit haunting her house and tries to rescue her mother from demonic possession. The first book, “The Haunting of Sunshine Girl,” comes out this week from Weinstein Books, with endorsements from horror heavyweights like R. L. Stine and the filmmaker Wes Craven.

 Mercedes Rose, left, and her daughter, Paige McKenzie, star in the series “The Haunting of Sunshine Girl.” Credit Leah Nash for The New York Times
“Sunshine Girl,” written with a collaborator, is the latest literary adaptation to emerge from YouTube as publishers and agents trawl the site in a race to land the biggest web video stars. In the past few months, publishers have released a flurry of reverse engineered titles, including “The Pointless Book,” by Alfie Deyes; “Girl Online,” by Zoe Sugg; and “Grace’s Guide,” by Grace Helbig.
Some publishers are so bullish about leveraging online audiences into print sales that they have created entire imprints dedicated to YouTube, including Awesomeness Ink and Keywords Press, which is releasing nine books this year by web personalities like Connor Franta, Shane Dawson and Justine Ezarik.
The results have been spotty. “Epic Meal Time,” a cookbook based on a YouTube show with more than 6.7 million subscribers, has sold just 2,192 paperback copies since Gallery Books published it last spring, according to Nielsen, which tracks 85 percent of sales.
“I’m holding my breath,” said Jennifer Bergstrom, vice president and publisher of Gallery Books, which will publish a book by the YouTube comedian Miranda Sings this July. “The concept of people watching videos and wanting to buy the book, I question whether that’s going to be a natural progression.”
With “The Haunting of Sunshine Girl,” Ms. McKenzie and her publisher hope to avoid similar pitfalls. Rather than banking on a social media brush fire to ignite her fan base, Weinstein Books is running parallel marketing campaigns, one aimed at Ms. McKenzie’s YouTube audience, the other targeting potential readers who have not heard of her. Author and publisher have posted a book trailer on Ms. McKenzie’s YouTube channel and sent galleys to influential video bloggers, but they are also courting booksellers, librarians and readers of young adult and paranormal fiction. Ms. McKenzie sent letters written in the voice of Sunshine to book buyers at Barnes & Noble stores. Weinstein printed 2,000 galleys of the first book and made it available digitally for reviewers on the website Goodreads.
“While she has a tremendous fan base we can market to directly, we didn’t know if the people who love Sunshine and watched her grow up are readers and book buyers,” said Georgina Levitt, the publishing director of Weinstein Books. “We didn’t want people to feel like this was a derivative work of a successful YouTube channel.”
If everything goes according to Ms. McKenzie’s carefully drawn blueprint, the book will establish a multimedia franchise. A television show — based on the novel based on the YouTube show — is in production at the Weinstein Company, and Ms. McKenzie’s contract locks her in as the star.
Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of the Weinstein Company, said he is confident the company has a crossover hit, citing strong results from an informal focus group: “I have four daughters, and three of them are into ‘Sunshine Girl,’ ” Mr. Weinstein said, calling the story “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” for a new generation.
“Sunshine Girl” was never just a teenager messing around with a hand-held camera, despite the spontaneous, home video-feel of the show.
“None of this was by accident,” said Mercedes Rose, Ms. McKenzie’s mother, co-star and business partner. “We always thought the numbers would get so large that Hollywood would have to pay attention.”
The project started in 2010 when a film producer, Nick Hagen, contacted Ms. Rose, an actress and voice-over artist, about collaborating on a YouTube show. He chose the haunted house theme partly because the subject proved popular when he did a reverse keyword search to see what people were looking for on YouTube.
“At the time, the No. 2 search subject was ‘ghost,’ and No. 1 was ‘Lil Wayne,’ and you can’t do a whole channel on Lil Wayne,” Ms. McKenzie said.
Ms. Rose, her daughter and Mr. Hagen formed a production company, Coat Tale Productions. They quickly learned some tricks for luring in viewers, like posting warnings on the videos that say “Don’t Watch!” Rumors swirled, helpfully, that the ghostly apparitions were real. Nearly a year later, the videos passed five million views. The show now brings in around $6,000 a month in advertising.
Ms. McKenzie, who is now 20 and lives outside of Portland, Ore., says Sunshine’s character is “99.8 percent” based on her. She spent much of her adolescence in front of the camera. When she was harassed at school, she spoke about it on camera as Sunshine. She griped on the show about her wheat allergy and her frizzy hair. “I pretty much grew up on YouTube,” she said. “This is my full-time job. This is my life.”
In 2013, the literary agent Mollie Glick saw a feature on Ms. McKenzie in Seventeen magazine, and asked her if she was interested in writing a novel based on her show. Ms. Glick paired Ms. McKenzie with a young adult novelist, Alyssa B. Sheinmel, who wrote three sample chapters and an outline. A book deal quickly followed. Last spring, Weinstein bought a partial manuscript at auction — in a low-six-figure, two-book deal — and separately optioned screen rights. The company plans to expand the Sunshine series, and recently bought a third book.
“When we saw the enthusiasm building from booksellers, we reached out to the agent to get a third book going,” said David Steinberger, president and chief executive of the Perseus Books Group, which includes Weinstein Books.
As Ms. McKenzie prepares to meet many of her fans in the flesh for the first time on an 11-city book tour, she seems comfortable as the face of a new franchise. But she is also careful not to take too much credit. When asked about her writing process, she readily acknowledges that Ms. Sheinmel did the bulk of the writing.
“I can’t do this by myself, are you crazy?” Ms. McKenzie said. “I’ve never written a book. I don’t know how to do that.”

Two of our Clients Make March 2015 Best YA Book List

in Books, Harvey Weinstein, Lauren Oliver, Paige McKenzie, Paper Lantern Lit, Sunshine Girl

March, with its celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, is known as the luckiest month of the year. And if you’re a young adult reader, you’re definitely going to feel lucky. This month is so chock full of exciting new young adult titles that it physically pained me to have to narrow it down to a hefty 17. (I know, my job is so hard.) Hope you invested in some speed reading classes, because you’re going to need them to tear through all of these books.

Titans in the YA space, such as Lauren Oliver, David Levithan, and Andrew Smith, all have new books for you, when really it would be a big month if even one of them did. Debut authors that killed it in 2014, such as Emery Lord and Sally Green, are back with hugely anticipated second novels, and let’s just say they aren’t suffering from the sophomore slump. There are sequels you desperately need to get your hands on because you’re still dying over a cliffhanger ending. And there are debut YA authors whose names are already echoing through the publishing world, like Tommy Wallach and David Arnold.

Whether you’re into ghost stories, magical realism, historical fiction, or the scripts to an epic musical production (seriously), you’re going to be lucky enough to find what you want, or desperately need, in March.

Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver (HarperCollins; Mar 10)

 After the success of Before I Fall, the Delirum trilogy, and last year’s Panic, any Lauren Oliver book is an event. And Vanishing Girls can stand up to the hype. And I couldn’t be happier to say the following sentence: In this book, the amazing author is focusing on the bond of sisterhood. Nick and Dara were tied at the hip before an accident pulled them apart. Dara’s supermodel-stunning face is scarred, and the two can barely speak to each other. Then, Dara disappears around the same time as young girl, and Nick makes it her mission to find out what happened to her. Rumor has it, if you loved We Were Liars, you’re going to love Vanishing Girls, so instead of clear words I’m going to say AHH!!

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie (Weinstein Books; Mar 24)

You’ve probably heard the names Paige McKenzie and The Haunting of Sunshine Girl before, so you’re giddy far before I can even explain this to you. You see, McKenzie has a YouTube series called “The Haunting of Sunshine Girl” (with more than 100 million views, thank you very much) about a teenage girl named Sunshine who finds that she is living in a haunted house. Moreover, she has to save her mother from the evil ghosts who haunt her. The story is super-entertaining, and it has the backing of horror icons R.L. Stine and Wes Craven, so it’s no slouch in the scary department either.

Congrats to our client Headline Pictures on the pick up of their Amazon Original series, Man in the High Castle.

in Amazon, Frank Spotnitz, Headline Pictures, Philip K. Dick, Ridley Scott, Scott Free, Television

Amazon Orders ‘Man In The High Castle’


During Amazon Studios’ latest pilot season, The Man In The High Castle became the most-watched since the original series development program began. Amazon has now greenlit a full season of the drama from Frank Spotnitz.

The Man In The High Castle is based on Philip K. Dick’s alternative history novel in which Nazi Germany and Japan were the victors of World War II. Almost 20 years later, much of the globe has been split between the two countries. But tension is mounting for the Axis powers, and the stress is playing out in the U.S. where fascism rules and the few surviving Jews hide under assumed names. (Check out a clip below.)

The drama pilot starred Alexa Davalos (Mob City), Luke Kleintank (Pretty Little Liars), Rupert Evans (The Village), Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat Legacy), Joel De La Fuente (Hemlock Grove), Rufus Sewell (Eleventh Hour) and DJ Qualls (Z Nation). David Semel directed and exec produced with X-Files alum Spotnitz. Ridley Scott and David W. Zucker are also exec producers with co-executive producer Jordan Sheehan of Scott Free. Executive Producers for Headline Pictures are Stewart Mackinnon and Christian Baute. Isa Dick Hackett will also executive produce and Kalen Egan will co-executive produce on behalf of Electric Shepherd (the production arm of Dick’s estate). Christopher Tricarico is also executive producer.

Our clients are set to be the next YA hit.

in Harvey Weinstein, Paige McKenzie, Perseus, Sunshine Girl, The Weinstein Company, YouTube

Harvey Weinstein thinks he’s found the latest young adult hit

Client Lauren Oliver to adapt screenplay.

in Film, Lauren Oliver, Panic, Universal

Universal Hires Author Lauren Oliver to Adapt Her Own Book ‘Panic’ universal-studios-logo-wallpaper

Sometimes the best screenwriter to adapt a novel is the novel’s author herself.

Universal has followed this logic, as it just hired Lauren Oliver to pen the screenplay of the studio’s adaptation of her YA novel Panic.

Universal picked up the rights in a bidding war in 2013 in advance of the book’s spring 2014 release from Harper Teen, an imprint of HarperCollins. The book was a hot property due to the success of Oliver’s previous novels, the New York Times best-selling Delirium trilogy and the 2010 hit Before I Fall, which was set up at Fox 2000.

Marc Platt and Adam Siegel are producing Panic.

The story takes place in a small town and features a cast of teens who are competing in fear trials for a chance to win a prize. Alliances are forged, secrets are revealed and first loves face tests of courage.

Having the author of the book also write the adaptation is one of the current hot Hollywood trends, especially following the success of Gillian Flynn in writing the script for Gone Girl, which proved to be a commercial and critical hit. Dennis Lehane adapted The Drop from his own short story Animal Rescue.

Oliver is, at 32 years old, published in 35 countries and the author of nine books since making her debut in 2010. She is also the co-founder of Paper Lantern Lit, an author-book packaging company that has sold 40 titles to major publishers to date. While YA is her main concern (her latest book Vanishing Girls will be published in March), last fall she released her first adult novel titled Rooms.

UTA negotiated the deal in conjunction with Oliver’s literary agent, Stephen Barbara at InkWell Management.

Universal’s vp production Maradith Frenkel and creative executive Chloe Yellin are overseeing the project for the studio.

Congratulations to our client Sean McFate on his book “Modern Mercenary”

in Books, Modern Mercenaries, Oxford University Press, Sean McFate, The Economist, Uncategorized

Return of the hired gun

How private armies will remake modern warfare

The Modern Mercenary: Private Armies and What They Mean for World Order. By Sean McFate.Oxford University Press; 248 pages; $29.95 and £19.99. Buy from;

IN THE pirate-infested waters off the coast of Somalia around 180 private military contractors from 35 countries work to protect international shipping. They cost as little as a tenth of the official protection provided by the governments of France, Holland and Spain. Yet they can deploy lethal force and have proved very effective; they have even formed an industry group, the Security Association for the Maritime Industry, to represent their interests.

As Sean McFate shows in a fascinating and disturbing book, “The Modern Mercenary”, the provision of private armies to the world’s conflict zones has boomed in the past 25 years. The market for these firms could evolve from a monopsony, in which the dominant buyer has been the American government, into something more open and competitive. As it does so, he argues, these armies may turn from a force that is mostly for peace into a threat.

The end of the cold war provided the opening for private armies. In 1994 Executive Outcomes, founded by a group drawn from various South African special forces units, offered to help stop the genocide in Rwanda. The United Nations turned the company down. Although it later found work in Angola, Kenya and elsewhere, it closed after the South African government outlawed mercenaries in 1998. The market really took off when America, under George W. Bush, wanted support for its occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. One firm, Blackwater, stood out, but the work gained a unfavourable reputation and the company has since changed its name twice, first to Xe and now Academi.

The growing faith in free markets and privatisation, ushered in by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, and the increasing political need to hide the human cost of war by reducing deaths in the standing army, have encouraged the use of private soldiers. So did the belief that they were often more effective and efficient. (Erik Prince, Blackwater’s founder, liked to describe his firm as the FedEx of the American national security apparatus.)

Mr McFate writes with an insider’s knowledge, having worked for DynCorp, another private military company, on assignments that he says included foiling a plot to assassinate the president of Burundi. On another occasion, he says, he was approached by a famous actress turned humanitarian who, with various human- rights groups, wanted to hire Blackwater to set up safe havens in Sudan to protect civilians fleeing the janjaweed militia. In the end, though, they decided that the risks of an illegal action of this kind outweighed the benefits.

With American demand for private military operators falling as it scales back its overseas operations, Mr McFate expects demand to grow from other customers, including humanitarian organisations and less idealistic groups. He is alarmed by the prospect, not least because he feels that in a truly free market mercenary armies might be encouraged to seek profits by starting new wars.

The author fears that the world is entering an era of “neomedievalism” in which the state loses its monopoly of legal force and instead other wealthy groups or individuals fund private military adventures. Africa, in particular, looks ripe for this, he says. He believes America has missed the opportunity to regulate this market properly, but thinks there is still a chance for the United Nations to do so by making private military companies an important part of its peacekeeping operations, something it so far declines to do.

In the end, though, Mr McFate tends to overstate his case. Private armies may indeed play a role in failed and failing states, but it is unlikely that modern mercenaries will become more important than the standing armies of NATO or China soon. The author’s conclusion that “international relations in the 21st century will have more in common with the 12th century than with the 20th” sounds like an exaggeration. Yet the worrying trends he describes make this book a powerful call to arms to those who do not want a world awash with mercenaries.

Congratulations to our client Beth Macy

in Beth Macy, Factory Man, HBO, John Bassett, New York Times, Playtone, Pulitzer Price, Tom Hanks, Uncategorized

 Credit Illustrations by Jon McNaught


AMERICAN MIRROR: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell. By Deborah Solomon. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28.) Solomon pays honest respect to Rockwell for his dedication through periods of self-doubt, depression and marital tumult.

BEING MORTAL: Medicine and What Matters in the End. By Atul Gawande. (Metropolitan/Holt, $26.) A meditation on living better with age-related frailty, serious illness and approaching death.

BUILDING A BETTER TEACHER: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach It to Everyone). By Elizabeth Green. (Norton, $

27.95.) What emerges here is the gaping chasm between what the best teachers do and how they are evaluated.

CAN’T WE TALK ABOUT SOMETHING MORE PLEASANT? Written and illustrated by Roz Chast. (Bloomsbury, $28.) This scorchingly honest, achingly wistful graphic memoir looks at the last years of Chast’s nonagenarian parents.

CHINA’S SECOND CONTINENT: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in ­Africa. By Howard W. French. (Knopf, $27.95.) French delves into the actual lives of the Chinese who have uprooted themselves to live and work in Africa.

CUBED: A Secret History of the Workplace. By Nikil Saval. (Doubleday, $26.95.) This account of office design and technology since the Civil War offers insights into the changing nature of work.

DEEP DOWN DARK: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free. By Héctor Tobar. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26.) Tobar graphically recounts the quandaries faced by the victims of Chile’s 2010 mine disaster.

DEMON CAMP: A Soldier’s Exorcism. By Jennifer Percy. (Scribner, $26.) Percy’s first book follows an anguished Army veteran who searches for salvation in a Christian exorcism camp.

DUTY: Memoirs of a Secretary at War. By Robert M. Gates. (Knopf, $35.) One of the few Obama administration members who come off well in this frank account — probably one of the best Washington memoirs ever — is Hillary Clinton.

DYING EVERY DAY: Seneca at the Court of Nero. By James Romm. (Knopf, $27.95.) A classicist tries to unravel the enigma of the Stoic philosopher who was the Roman emperor Nero’s adviser.

EICHMANN BEFORE JERUSALEM: The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer. By Bettina Stangneth. Translated by Ruth Martin. (Knopf, $35.) The Eichmann of this study is a much more motivated Nazi than in Arendt’s version.

ELEPHANT COMPANY: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II. By Vicki Constantine Croke. (Random House, $28.) A rich portrait of a fascinating Englishman in extraordinary times.

EMBATTLED REBEL: Jefferson Davis as Commander in Chief. By James M. McPherson. (Penguin Press, $32.95.) The Confederate president as “a product of his time and circumstances.”

THE EMPATHY EXAMS: Essays. By Leslie Jamison. (Graywolf, $15.) Considerations of pain, physical and emotional, and how it affects our relationships with one another and with ourselves.

FACTORY MAN: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local — and Helped Save an American Town. By Beth Macy. (Little, Brown, $28.) Macy’s folksy concentration on her local hero makes complex global issues ­understandable.

Congratulations to our client, Pulitzer Prize winner Rod Nordland, on the sale of his book “The Lovers”

in Afghanistan, Ecco, Harper Collins, New York Times, Pulitzer Price, Rod Nordland, Romeo and Juliet, The Lovers, The Observer

Rod Nordland

By   The New York Times‘ Kabul bureau chief Rod Nordland has signed what is known in industry parlance as a “major deal,” with HarperCollins imprint Ecco to expand on a series of stories he wrote last year.

The book, tentatively titled The Lovers and slated for publication next October, grew out his coverage of a Romeo and Juliet-type tale of a young Afghan couple from different ethnic sects, struggling to stay together despite the danger and threat of death that their union poses.

“She is his Juliet and he is her Romeo, and her family has threatened to kill them both,” Mr. Nordland wrote in one of his stories about star-crossed lovers Zakia, 18, and Mohammad Ali, 21.

A veteran foreign correspondent, Mr. Nordland won a Pulitzer Prize in 1983 for his worked covering the impact of war on Cambodia, Vietnam and East Timor for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He joined the Times in 2009 from Newsweek, where he was the chief foreign correspondent and was named the paper’s Kabul bureau chief in 2013.

Mr. Nordland’s agent, David Patterson of Foundry Literary + Media, announced the deal earlier this week in Publisher’s Marketplace, the subscription-based newsletter and industry database.

“It’s a spectacularly big book; the kind of riveting, elemental human narrative on which a number of weighty topics can ride,” Mr. Patterson told the Observer via email. “Readers of the paper have been tremendously moved by Rod’s stories about Zakia and Mohammad Ali, and I am certain that they will react similarly to the complete story that they’ll get in the book.”

Davoli Law Client, Headline Pictures, reveals their TV slate

in Baltasar Kormakur, Cybercrime, Film, Headline Pictures, Michael Douglas, Microsoft, Miniseries, Peter Pan, Philip K. Dick, Reykjavik, Ridley Scott, Ronald Reagan, Scott Free, Television, Tony Marchant, tv

1205573_The-Man-in-the-High-CastleLondon-based Headline Pictures, the outfit behind Quartet and The Invisible Woman, has revealed further details of its slate of high end TV dramas. 

One of the company’s long gestating projects, Philip K Dick adaptation The Man In The High Castle, is now shooting in Seattle.

Headline has partnered with Amazon Studios, which is wholly funding the project, and is being filmed in the first instance as a pilot.

This will be broadcast in December and a decision will be taken as to whether a 10-part series will follow.

The drama, set in an alternate future in which Germany and Japan won the Second World War, is scripted by Frank Spotnitz and is being directed by David Semel.

The Man In The High Castle has been put together as a production between Scott Free, Headline Pictures and Electric Shepherd, the production arm of the Philip K. Dick estate.

“Headline created this show, secured the rights, financed the original scripts and then, with Scott Free and Electric Shepherd financed the Spotnitz scripts,” said Headline co-founder Stewart Mackinnon.

He declined to reveal the budget of the project but said “it was on a scale no-one in Europe would spend”.

Marchant commits to Cybercrime

Headline has signed up award winning writer Tony Marchant (Holding On, The Mark Of Cain, Recovery) to write its new drama, Cybercrime.

Marchant has already been researching the drama with Microsoft, which has given him access to the company’s huge cybercrime unit.

“Microsoft, over a period of three years of discussion, finally agreed to allow us access to their key people and to the unit itself,” said Mackinnon.

The Microsoft cybercrime united was set up to protect the IP of the company. “Over the past few years, this unit has grown and has given them an insight into criminality which I think is quite unique,” added Mackinnon.

The Headline boss suggested that Microsoft’s interest in supporting the drama was “to show the world that those involved in cybercrime are not the odd individual living in a back room in Birmingham, hacking into this company or that company…the major crime syndicates in the world see this as an opportunity.”

Governments, Mackinnon added, were also intimately involved in the nefarious world of cybercrime.

Marchant is working on a pilot for a 10-part series. Headline is partnering on the project with Munich-based Odeon Film, led by Mischa Hofmann. Odeon recently launched an international division.

The aim is to go into production by late 2015. The “modern spy thriller,” described by Mackinnon as “a global initiative,” will be based in Europe, Russia and the US.

Other Headline projects

The company has also developed Last Man Standing, written by Alan Whiting and to be directed by Ciaran Donnelly. This is a series set in the world of the international drugs trade.

Meanwhile, Adrian Hodges has completed his adaptation of Three Stations, the first of the TV films to be based Martin Cruz Smith’s Renko cop novels, for Headline.

The Renko dramas will be shot in Russia next year. The idea is to follow the Wallander formula. Hodges also scripted Headline’s new TV version of Peter Pan, due to shoot next year for delivery Christmas 2015.

Another Headline project, mini-series The Heavy Water War, is in post-production.

Made for Norwegian broadcaster NRK, this is based on the true story of the Allied Forces’ 1943 commando raid on a Norwegian factory plant to stop production of heavy water for Nazi Germany’s atomic bomb. Svensk is handling sales.


Alongside its TV endeavours, Headline will continue to develop feature films.

“We want to make one feature a year,” commented Headline’s production executive Christian Baute.

Reykjavik, the new Headline film about the Reagan/Gorbachev summit in Iceland in 1986, will shoot in the spring of 2015. Baltasar Kormakur is now on board as director. Michael Douglas is playing President Reagan.

Kormakur is currently finishing Everest for Working Title and will then move on to tackle Reykjavik. The Icelandic director was reportedly attracted to the project by his own childhood memories of the summit, credited with hastening the end of the Cold War.

HBO & Playtone Take On Battle Against Offshoring With ‘Factory Man’ Miniseries

in Beth Macy, Factory Man, HBO, John Bassett, Miniseries, Playtone, Television, Tom Hanks
Factory Man Tom Hanks

EXCLUSIVE: One of U.S.’ biggest economic stories of the 21st century, how to save American jobs in the face of outsourcing, is getting a personal treatments in Factory Man, a miniseries in development at HBO. The project, produced by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman’s Playtone, is based on Beth Macy’s nonfiction book Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local – And Helped Save An American Town. It tells the story of the Bassett family: Throughout much of the 20th century, generations of the family oversaw the rise of their furniture manufacturing company, Bassett Furniture, the biggest employer in their Virginia hometown. HBO blue logoBut with the onset of the 21st century, global capitalism threatened the future of the company, and the family scion, John Bassett III, was forced to take on China — as well as his own industry — in order to keep his family’s legacy alive. Hanks and Goetzman will executive produce the miniseries, with Steven Shareshian serving as co-executive producer and Peter McGuigan as co-producer.

Factory Man marks the first book for prize-winning journalist Macy. Since its July 15 release, it has garnered strong reviews and sales, debuting on the New York Times bestseller list at No. 10 and staying on it for seven weeks and counting. Macy received the J. Anthony Lukas Award for work-in-progress while writing Factory Man.

CAA-repped Playtone is the go-to miniseries producer for HBO. The company was behind Band Of Brothers, The Pacific and John Adams, all Emmy winners for best miniseries. It also is producing HBO’s upcoming Olive Kitteridge miniseries; the Lewis And Clark mini, which is moving towards production with the recent casting of Casey Affleck; as well as the long-gestating followup to Band Of Brothers and The Pacific. The deal for Factory Man was negotiated by David Davoli of Davoli Law Firm and Peter McGuigan of Foundry Literary + Media.

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