'The Help' Director Tate Taylor Circling Period Drama 'Peace Like a River' (Exclusive)

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DreamWorks and Warner Bros. would team to adapt the 2002 novel about an asthmatic 11-year-old who lives with his eccentric family in 1962 Minnesota.

Tate Taylor, currently riding high off the critical and financial success of The Help, is in early talks to direct Peace Like a River, an adaptation of a Leif Enger novel that would see DreamWorks team up with Warner Bros. to bring it to the screen.

Brad Pitt and Plan B are producing with David Brown and Kit Golden.

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The 2002 novel is narrated by an asthmatic 11-year-old named Reuben Land, who lives with his eccentric family in 1962 Minnesota. When two young troublemakers break into the family home, Reuben’s 16-year-old brother guns them down and is convicted in the ensuing trial. When the brother escapes, Reuben, his sister and his widowed father criss-cross the Midwest to find him.

The book, which won an award for best adult novel for teens as well an Independent Publisher Book Award, dealt with themes of forgiveness and miracles.

Warners and Plan B have long been working on adapting the novel. Back in the mid-2000s, the studio commissioned a screenplay by Kathy McWorter, and in 2005 it even had Billy Bob Thornton attached to star as the father. But a director who could juggle a tough-to-sell period setting and a large cast eluded them.

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Enter Taylor, who couldn’t be hotter in light of The Help, which did exactly that. The movie is generating awards buzz and exceeding expectations at the box office, grossing over $40 million so far.

If  the WME-repped Taylor takes on the gig, DreamWorks would come on-board as production partner alongside Warners. DreamWorks has an option on Taylor’s next pic as part of its deal to develop The Help, and it certainly wants to be in the Taylor business.

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Sources caution that Peace, however, is not necessarily Taylor’s next picture. He is said to be sifting though several projects.

DreamWorks and Warners had no comment.

Email: Borys.Kit@thr.com