Walden exec helps put surfing pic in the pipeline


Walden Media has picked up an untitled treatment by Jim Meenaghan and Brandon Hooper for a feature that is set against the backdrop of Maverick's, home to one of the world's largest and most dangerous surf breaks.

Daniel Barnz and Ned Zeman have been hired to write the screenplay for the film, which will be produced by Meenaghan — an executive vp business and legal affairs at Walden — and Hooper.

The story is based on the true adventures of surfing wonderboy Jay Moriarity, who while still a teenager took on the waves at Northern California surfing jewel Maverick's, where the winter swells pull in waves five stories tall. He had prodded wise surfing elder Rick "Frosty" Hesson to prepare him; after relenting, the local legend put Moriarity through a program of intense physical training.

Moriarity died a day before his 23rd birthday in a free-diving accident.

Hooper is an independent writer-producer. Meenaghan, a surfer, met Moriarity 10 years ago in Santa Cruz, Calif., and became interested in his story, eventually bringing in buddy and fellow surfer Hooper. They spent a year chasing down the life rights to Moriarity, his wife and Hesson.

"I did it on my free time and brought it back to my company," Meenaghan said. "It's very cool that I work at a company where they encourage creativity in their employees."

Walden executive vp production Alex Schwartz will oversee the project on behalf of the company.

Barnz and Zeman wrote "Under and Alone" for Mel Gibson at Warners and "In the Kingdom of Big Sugar," which has Jodie Foster attached to direct. Barnz wrote and directed "Phoebe in Wonderland," which is in postproduction with Felicity Huffman, Patricia Clarkson and Elle Fanning starring. Zeman is a journalist for Vanity Fair.

Barnz and Zeman are repped by Endeavor and attorney Ben Feldman.