EXCLUSIVE: Judy Blume Adapting 'Tiger Eyes' for Big Screen
Tiger Eyes, the beloved Judy Blume young adult novel, is heading to the big screen, and the author has a hand in the adaptation. Blume wrote the screenplay with her son Lawrence Blume, who also is directing.
Eyes marks the first Judy Blume novel to be translated to a feature film, although there have been several TV incarnations of her works, notably a Fudge series and two ABC Weekend specials (one adapting Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great) in the 1990s. "Forever" was turned into TV movie in 1978.
The Blumes' production company, Tashmoo Prods., is partnering with Amber Entertainment to produce the film. Amber is run by three ex-New Line execs -- Mark Ordeski, Ileen Maisel and Jane Fleming -- and Lawrence Elman, a former documentary producer for the BBC in London.
U.K.-based Tesco, one of the world's largest retailers, is financing the film as part of a multipicture deal based on adaptations of best-selling novels.
Written in 1981, Eyes tells of a teenage girl whose family is forced to move in with relatives in New Mexico after her father is killed in a convenience story robbery. She meets an American Indian teen named Wolf, whose father is a terminally ill patient in the hospital at which the girl volunteers. Together they help overcome her fear and grief.
Blume revealed that when she first wrote the story, it was primarily about a family relocating to a new town -- as she did when she moved with her teenage children to Los Alamos, N.M. But it later occurred to her that the novel was her subconscious way of dealing with her memory of her father, who also died suddenly.
"I will swear to you, when I wrote this book, I didn't know it would have anything to do with my father's death. I can't even talk about it without choking up," Blume told The Hollywood Reporter. "When I was very young, my dad died suddenly. I was with him. You never get over that. It's always there, it's a big part of your life. It's a big hole."
Blume said she hasn't been star-struck by Hollywood despite being continually approached. She describes going on what she calls "Judy Sweetheart" lunches (where execs ask her, 'Judy, sweetheart, what do you want to do?") and being less than enthralled with the Fudge series.
"I know I have reputation for not selling my books. And now I'm glad," she said. "Because here I am, working with a director I trust, someone I know understands those characters."
Lawrence Blume said he's been itching to adapt Eyes since he was in film school.
"I first read it when I was a freshman," he said. "Of all of Judy's books, this and Summer Sisters has the most cinematic style and would be reasonable to adapt. It's always been a dream of mine and now, 30 years later ..."
Production begins in Santa Fe on Wednesday, and the production will try to use as many of the book's New Mexico locales as possible.
Gossip Girl actress Willa Holland is playing the teen girl, Davey, while newcomer Tatanka Means plays Wolf. Cynthia Stevenson, Amy Jo Johnson, Russell Means and Elise Eberle also are in the cast.
The production, budgeted at less than $5 million, will look for a U.S. distributor when done shooting.
The Blumes are excited about using New Mexican crew and talent, noting the state's art and film scene has changed much since they lived there in the 1970s.
"There's something exciting about coming back home," Judy Blume said.