TriStar Nabs Military Memoir 'Shoot Like a Girl' (Exclusive)

Mary Jennings Hegar - S 2015
Courtesy of Mary Jennings Hegar

Mary Jennings Hegar - S 2015

Author Mary Jennings Hegar served three tours in Afghanistan and fought against the Combat Exclusion Policy.

A version of this story first appeared in the July 3 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Beating out multiple suitors, TriStar Pictures as nabbed film rights to Shoot Like a Girl: How One Woman’s War Against the Taliban Led to Her Victory Over the Department of Defense, an upcoming memoir by Air Force Major Mary Jennings Hegar.

Hegar's amazing true story centers on her journey serving three tours in Afghanistan as a rescue helicopter pilot where she Medevac'd hundreds of men and women off of the battlefield. At one point, her helicopter was shot down during a rescue mission and she was shot by the Taliban. She fought through her injuries to save the three Americans that were the target of the rescue mission, and her own team. Their ordeal culminated in a daring escape hanging onto the skids of a Kiowa helicopter.

But it's not only her brave work in the field that makes Hegar's story so impressive. She also sued the secretary of defense asserting that the Combat Exclusion Policy (which prevented women from entering direct combat) was unconstitutional, and she won. In 2013, the secretary of defense repealed the policy.

Maj. Hegar is a Purple Heart recipient, the sixth woman to ever receive the Distinguished Flying Cross and only the second woman ever to receive it with the Valor Device.

Berkley Caliber, an imprint of Penguin Random House, is publishing the book in 2016.

Ellen Goldsmith-Vein and Shari Smiley of the Gotham Group are producing the film, which is described as "Top Gun meets Erin Brockovich." Nicole Brown will oversee the project for TriStar. Gersh repped Hegar and the book in the deal.

This is the third women-in-war book to spark a bidding war in as many months. In March, multiple studios set their sights on Gayle Tzemach Lemmon's book Ashley’s War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield. Fox 2000 and Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea's Pacific Standard, which focuses on female stories and meaty roles for women, eventually won out.

One week earlier, Warner Bros. bought war photographer Lynsey Addario's memoir It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War, attaching Steven Spielberg to direct and Jennifer Lawrence to star. The story follows Addario's journey as a war photographer covering the American invasion of Afghanistan and traveling to some of the most dangerous places in the world in order to capture the truth. Sources say Lawrence is a voracious reader and was immediately interested in the story.

In April, TriStar nabbed another female-centered war story when it preemptively optioned the hot best-selling novel The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, which centers on two sisters living in France during WWII. TriStar's other recent book deals include getting the rights to Melanie Raabe’s debut novel The Trap, which was one of the hottest titles at last month’s London Book Fair; and The Longings of Jende Jonga, an immigrant tale by first-time author Imbolo Mbue.