Rights Available! Obama's Joke Writer's Coming-of-Age Memoir Up for Grabs

David_Litt_Andrea_Portes_Split - H 2016
Courtesy of The White House; Getty Images

David_Litt_Andrea_Portes_Split - H 2016

A version of this story first appeared in the March 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

A former presidential speechwriter and a hot novelist top this week's Rights Available.

First up is David Litt, a real-life Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe's character on The West Wing) who went from college graduate to White House speechwriter in three years. The Yale grad (class of 2008) joined Obama's speechwriting team in 2011. He was the lead joke writer and helped craft such funny bits as the president's "Luther the Anger Translator" routine with Keegan-Michael Key at the 2015 White House Correspondents Dinner. He left the White House in January and last week he was named the head writer for Funny or Die in D.C.

Attracting attention is That Hopey Changey Thing, Litt's forthcoming memoir about his White House years, which was acquired by Ecco Press on Feb. 24. It's pitched as "the sometimes funny and bizarre experiences of a twenty-something White House staffer, and looking back on our shared eight years of the Obama presidency."

Also getting buzz this week is a new middle-grade series from Andrea Portes, whose novel Hick was turned into the 2011 movie starring Chloe Moretz, Alec Baldwin, Eddie Redmanye, Juliette Lewis and Blake Lively. The Nebraska-raised, Bryn Mawr-educated, Los Angeles-residing Portes has also written Bury This, Super Rad and Anatomy of a Misfit. Her more recent book Liberty is set up at Fox 2000 with Temple HIll producing.

Orphans Henry and Eva are trying to solve their parents' murder while being forced to live with their uncle. They have a special skill though — they can talk to ghosts, including their dead parents. Both the book and the movie are being viewed as potential franchises.

This week's titles:

That Hopey Changey Thing (Ecco) by David Litt
Agency: UTA

The former Obama speechwriter — he was the go-to joke guy — and newly named Funny or Die D.C. head writer is attracting buzz for his forthcoming comedic coming-of-age memoir about being a 20-something working in the West Wing.

Henry & Eva (HarperCollins) by Andrea Portes
Agency: Original Artists

A 9-year-old genius and his 11-year-old sister (who can talk to ghosts) investigate their parents' deaths. The middle-grade book is the first in a planned series that Portes and screenwriter Joel Silverman seek to adapt as a potential film franchise (their Anatomy of a Misfit is in development at Paramount).