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The story of Laura Vikmanis, who at 42 is the oldest cheerleader in NFL history, is getting the big-screen treatment.
New Line has picked up the story of Vikmanis, acquiring her life rights as well as a pitch by scribes Emily Cook and Kathy Greenberg, whose credits include Gnomeo & Juliet and Ratatouille.
Richard and Lauren Shuler Donner are producing, as is Donners’ Co. president Jack Leslie.
Vikmanis, a mother with two teenage daughters, was shaken after her husband left her. At a Cincinnati Bengals game, her sister suggested she find something to make her happy, and Vikmanis, who had been a dancer, looked to the field and said being a cheerleader looked like fun.
At age 39, she tried out for the Ben-Gals squad but failed. Vikmanis, however, spent a year improving her fitness and working on routines and returned to tryouts the following year. She made the squad, thus serving as an inspiration to her daughters and as a big sister to the cheerleaders, many of them 20 years her junior.
Leslie introduced Laura Vikmanis to Joseph Veltre, head of Gersh’s book department. Gersh used synergy beyond just books for this project and the tale made its way to Gersh-repped Cook and Greenberg, who saw the video. A brief phone conversation with Vikmanis convinced them that a movie was possible.
“In her real life, it was easy to find a way into the story,” Cook said. “She is a 42-year-old in a sea of 20-year-olds; she’s definitely a fish in out of water. It’s a great contrast. And she proved you can reinvent yourself at any age.”
“It’s really a feel good populist story in the vein of Blind Side. It’s got more comedy to be sure, but it’s an earnest story,” Greenberg added.
Cook and Greenberg honed Vikmanis’ story into a pitch and circled back with Leslie, who brought the Donners on board. They took it to New Line, where the pair was beginning to write Gaggle, an adaptation based on a dating book set up at the company.
Michele Weiss and Merideth Finn will oversee for New Line.
Cook and Greenberg are additionally repped by Kaplan/Perrone.
Gersh also repped the Donners’ Co. in the deal.
Gersh will be shopping the book rights.
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