'Man's Search for Meaning' Author Viktor Frankl Getting Biopic Treatment (Exclusive)
Ben Silverman and Jay Weisleder of Fuego Films are producing the life story of the man who survived the Holocaust to become a celebrated psychiatrist.
The life of Viktor Frankl, the Holocaust survivor who wrote the best-seller Man’s Search for Meaning, is getting the biopic treatment.
Ben Silverman and Jay Weisleder of Fuego Films, who are behind the upcoming true-life boxing drama Hands of Stone, are developing the project, which is titled The Search and has a script by Adam Gibgot.
Heartwire Productions, a company created by Frankl’s grandson Alexander Vesely, screenwriter Adam Gibgot and Viktor Frankl Estate representative Mary Cimiluca also are involved, with Vesely and Gibgot on board as producers.
Frankl was a psychiatrist whose ideas of treatment were deeply shaped by his experiences surviving the Holocaust. He went on to write 39 books, with Man’s Search for Meaning becoming his seminal work with millions of copies sold, more than 24 translations and influence beyond the psychiatric field.
While Search will cover a wide span of Frankl’s life, the story will focus on the unique relationship the author developed with a young former baseball prodigy named Jerry Long. Frankl and Long began a correspondence in the early 1980s, commencing a nearly 20-year friendship that profoundly impacted both men at critical junctures in each of their lives.
The script is now out to directors.
“Doctor Viktor Frankl was a true visionary and pioneer in so many ways,” said Gibgot. “At a time when meaning in life is on everyone’s mind, it is an honor for us to work so closely with Alex and the Frankl estate to tell this story of extreme generosity and triumph of the human spirit. Viktor Frankl’s work has touched millions of lives, but our story is about how this transcendent man took the time to touch just one life.”
Said Silverman: "One of my primary agendas as a producer is to bring commercially viable content to the marketplace that spreads a message of hope. Adam's script is a check in every box for us.”
This is the second project revolving around Frankl that is now in development. In June, Straight Up Films picked up the rights to Man's Search for Meaning and is in advanced talks with a writer and director to adapt the book.
For Search, Cimiluca will serve as executive producer. Film financiers Allan, Ariel and Adrian Kader also will executive produce. Sammy Weisleder, who helped secure the financing, also will exec produce.
Michael Berenbaum, the founding director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and also a one-time president of the USC Shoah Foundation, will co-exec produce as well as consult.
As part of Search’s package, the producers have optioned the life rights of Eleonore Frankl, the author’s widow.
Hands of Stone stars Edgar Ramirez and Robert De Niro and tells the story of boxer Roberto Duran and his trainer. The Weinstein Co. is set to release the movie Aug. 26.
Gibgot first teamed with Silverman on The Accidental Genius, a mystery drama set up at Warner Bros. that has Team Downey as a producer as well as Silverman. He is repped by WME.
Read more: Hollywood's Last Holocaust Survivors