Scribe, producer to make Cesar Chavez biopic

THR EXCLUSIVE

Screenwriter Keir Pearson and Larry Meli have optioned life rights to make a biopic about civil-rights activist and labor organizer Cesar Chavez.

Pearson, who will write the feature screenplay, is producing with Meli for Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna's Mexico-based Canana Films. The rights were controlled and granted by the Cesar Chavez Foundation; negotiations were handled by Chavez's son, Paul.

From the 1950s through 1993, when he died, Chavez worked as a community organizer and fought for improved working conditions for California farm workers. The Mexican-American co-founded the National Farm Workers Assn., which later became the United Farm Workers union, and campaigned to prevent illegal immigration from undermining unionization efforts.

Chavez's birthday, March 31, is celebrated as a state holiday in several states, including California and Texas, and he was awarded the U.S. Medal of Freedom posthumously in 1994. In 2006, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger inducted him into the state's hall of fame.

Pearson, repped by Benderspink, was nominated for an original screenplay Oscar in 2005 for co-writing "Hotel Rwanda" with the film's director Terry George. He also has an adaptation of Jim Wooten's "We Are All the Same: A Story of a Boy's Courage and a Mother's Love" in development with producer Marty Adelstein, and he is writing a biopic about Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Roberto Clemente for HBO and Playtone.
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