Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington Starrer 'Little Fires Everywhere' Lands at Hulu

The streamer has handed out a straight-to-series order for the drama, which sparked a bidding war among multiple outlets.
Left, Jesse Grant, right, Jon Kopaloff, both Getty Images
Reese Witherspoon (left), Kerry Washington

Hulu has landed Little Fires Everywhere.

Following a multiple-outlet bidding war, the streaming service has handed out a straight-to-series order for the adaptation of Celeste Ng's book, with Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington attached to star and executive produce. A premiere date for the eight-episode drama has not yet been determined.

Witherspoon's company Hello Sunshine snatched up the rights to Little Fires Everywhere before its publication last year and brought it to Washington. Together, the actresses brought it to writer Liz Tigelaar (Casual, Life Unexpected) to adapt it and serve as showrunner. Hello Sunshine and Simpson Street then brought in ABC Signature Studios' Tracy Underwood. The cable-focused arm of ABC Studios will exec produce the series alongside Hello Sunshine and Simpson Street. The package ignited a bidding war among those who heard the pitch. Sources note that several outlets attempted to take the package off the table, but Witherspoon and those involved insisted on letting everyone hear the pitch as they mulled the right home for the project. (In a rare move, network execs went to the Hello Sunshine offices rather than producers hopping from network to network.) Little Fires Everywhere will be a co-production between ABC Signature and Hello Sunshine. It is the first project on which the latter has served as the studio.

Little Fires Everywhere follows the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and an enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. The story explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, the ferocious pull of motherhood — and the danger in believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

Tigelaar will pen the script, exec produce and serve as showrunner. Washington and her ABC Studios-based Simpson Street banner topper Pilar Savone will exec produce. Witherspoon will also exec produce via her ABC Studios-based shingle alongside Hello Sunshine topper Lauren Neustadter, who optioned the book with Witherspoon for Hello Sunshine. Author Ng will serve as a producer. The book was a September pick of Witherspoon's book club and an instant best-seller, appearing on many year-end best-of lists.

"Celeste wove a beautiful, riveting story that spoke to all of us, and when we heard the vision Reese, Kerry and Liz have for the series, we knew immediately that we had to bring it to Hulu,” Hulu chief content officer Joel Stillerman said Monday in a statement. “We’re honored to bring this powerful story to the screen with Hello Sunshine, in their first studio project. This is exactly the type of compelling and culturally relevant content that embodies our Hulu Originals brand.”

Little Fires Everywhere is the latest TV venture for Witherspoon. The actress and prolific producer also has the upcoming second season of HBO's Emmy-winning Big Little Lies due in 2019, and is set to star opposite Jennifer Aniston and exec produce an untitled morning-show drama that landed at Apple with a two-season order. The Oscar winner and Emmy nominee's Hello Sunshine is also exec producing Apple's Kristen Wiig's straight-to-series comedy and developing Octavia Spencer starrer Are You Sleeping for the tech giant. Witherspoon is repped by CAA, LBI Entertainment and Hansen Jacobson. Hello Sunshine is repped by CAA and Hansen Jacobson.

“At Hello Sunshine, we strive to shine a light on female-driven stories that are rooted in inspiration, emotion and truth — all of which form the bedrock of Celeste Ng's ingenious work,” said Witherspoon. “Hulu has a rich history of transforming groundbreaking literature into groundbreaking television, and we are confident that their talented team will use this story to spur a long-overdue dialogue around race, class, and what it means to be a mother. With Kerry Washington, Liz Tigelaar and now Hulu, Hello Sunshine has brought together a dream lineup of creative collaborators, and we are privileged and humbled to have the opportunity to work with them to bring this important project to life.”

For Washington, meanwhile, Little Fires Everywhere will be her follow-up to her role as Olivia Pope on ABC's Shonda Rhimes-produced Scandal. The drama will wrap its seven-season run on April 19. Washington earned an Emmy nomination in 2013 for the role, marking the first time an African-American was nominated for best drama actress in the past 18 years. Washington also starred and exec produced HBO's Emmy-nominated telepic Confirmation, for which she earned an Emmy nomination for her role as Anita Hill. She also exec produces the ABC comedy pilot Man of the House and the Facebook Watch show Five Points. The actress is repped by CAA, Washington Square Films and Hansen Jacobson. 

“As producers, we at Simpson Street are so proud to be part of this team to tell this extraordinary story inspired by Celeste Ng’s phenomenal novel and we are thrilled to be embarking on this journey with Hulu,” Washington said. “As an actress, I am floored to have the opportunity to work alongside Reese Witherspoon exploring the rich themes of this story playing these dynamic characters.”

Washington becomes the latest Scandal star to book her follow-up role. Bellamy Young and Scott Foley will both stay at ABC with leads in the pilots False Profits and Whiskey Cavalier, respectively; and Emmy winner Joe Morton will co-star in CBS' God Friended Me.

Tigelaar, currently a co-exec producer on Apple's Witherspoon-Aniston morning-show drama, counts Hulu's Casual, A&E's Bates Motel and ABC's The Astronaut Wives Club, Nashville, Revenge and Once Upon a Time, as well as creating The CW's Life Unexpected, among her credits. She is repped by UTA and Ziffren Brittenham.

Ng is with UTA and The Book Group.

Little Fires Everywhere is a big sell for ABC Signature Studios. Its credits include Freeform's Marvel drama Cloak and Dagger, FXX's animated Deadpool comedy, Hulu's Runaways, Showtime's SMILF and HBO's Confirmation, among others.

“We’re thrilled to be in business with these incredible women, each a powerhouse in her own right. This is another example of an exciting partnership for ABC Signature as we continue to build our production slate in the streaming space. We’re excited to have another project with our friends at Hulu, which is an ideal home for this project,” said ABC Studios/ABC Signature president Patrick Moran.

Little Fires Everywhere joins a roster of originals at Hulu that also includes the upcoming George Clooney-starring limited series Catch-22, Emmy winner The Handmaid's Tale, Castle Rock, The Looming Tower, The First and more.


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