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Hot off the success of the faith-based hit Heaven Is for Real, producer T.D. Jakes has scooped up film rights to another inspirational tale, Carter Paysinger and Steve Fenton‘s Where a Man Stands: Two Different Worlds, an Impossible Situation, and the Unexpected Friendship That Changed Everything.
The memoir-style book centers on Paysinger, a black student from the wrong side of town who landed hard at the upscale, mostly white Beverly Hills High, and his friendship with Fenton, a Jewish kid with whom he had little in common. Years later, Paysinger became a coach, teacher and eventually the first African-American principal in the storied school’s 80-year history. That perch gave him the opportunity to team with Fenton to turn around the school and help the community that put him on the path to success.
Paysinger and Fenton collaborated on the book, which was published Nov. 4 by Howard Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.
The story, which sparked the interest of a number of production companies and studios, is playing well in the Hollywood orbit. In fact, Paysinger and Fenton started the Beverly Hills Athletic Alumni Association seven years ago and enlisted such industryites as Beverly Hills High alums Bob Gersh, Eric Tannenbaum (Two and a Half Men), Gary Newman (20th Century Fox Television), Alan Nierob (Rogers & Cowan) actor Corbin Bernsen, Brad Turell (Paradigm), entertainment attorneys David Weber and Darren Trattner, and manager Allen Fischer (Principato Young).
“When we announced the book deal, I received more inquiries on the movie rights than any other book I published,” Howard Books vp and publisher Jonathan Merkh said. “This is a story that is unique yet universal.”
Fenton and his wife, Leeza Gibbons, first connected with Jakes when they saw him give a sermon at the Potter’s House megachurch in Dallas. Jakes, whose recent producing credits include Black Nativity, enjoyed a breakout success with Heaven Is for Real, which was made for $12 million and earned $101 million worldwide.
“Where a Man Stands is about human connection, rising above seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and seeing beyond what lies beneath the surface,” Jakes said. “It’s an uplifting tale that demonstrates what is possible when we take a stand for what we believe in.”
Derrick Williams, executive vp at T.D. Jakes Films & Entertainment, is overseeing for the production company.
Lacy Lynch at Dupree/Miller brokered the book deal.
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