A star-studded adaptation of Celeste Ng’s best-seller Little Fires Everywhere has sparked a frenzy among TV buyers.
Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon are set to star and executive produce the limited series with multiple premium cable and streaming networks bidding. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that a parade of network execs took meetings at Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine offices this week in a bid to land the series.
Witherspoon’s company snatched up the rights to Little Fires Everywhere shortly after its publication last year and brought it to ABC Signature Studios topper Tracy Underwood. The cable-focused arm of ABC Studios will exec produce the potential series, which has ignited a bidding war among those who have heard the pitch. Sources note that several outlets attempted to take the package off the table, but Witherspoon and those involved insisted on letting everyone hear the pitch as they mull the right home for the project. (In a rare move, network execs went to the Hello Sunshine offices rather than producers hopping from network to network.)
The book follows the events that transpire after the controversial adoption of a Chinese-American baby divides wealthy Shaker Heights, Ohio — and specifically a landlord and her mysterious tenant, single mother Mia. Liz Tigelaar (Casual, Life Unexpected) will pen the script, exec produce and serve as showrunner. Washington and her ABC Studios-based Simpson Street banner-topper Pilar Savone will exec produce. Witherspoon will also exec produce via her ABC Studios-based shingle alongside Hello Sunshine topper Lauren Neustadter. Author Ng will serve as a producer. The book was a September pick of Witherspoon’s book club and an instant best-seller, appearing on many year-end best-of lists.
Little Fires Everywhere is the latest TV venture for Witherspoon. The actress and prolific producer also has the upcoming second season of HBO’s Emmy-winning Big Little Lies due in 2019, and is set to star opposite Jennifer Aniston and exec produce an untitled morning show drama that landed at Apple with a two-season order. The Oscar winner and Emmy nominee’s Hello Sunshine is also exec producing Apple’s Kristen Wiig’s straight-to-series comedy and developing Octavia Spencer starrer Are You Sleeping for the tech giant. Witherspoon is repped by CAA, LBI Entertainment and Hansen Jacobson. Hello Sunshine is repped by CAA and Hansen Jacobson.
For Washington, meanwhile, Little Fires Everywhere will be her follow-up to her role as Olivia Pope on ABC’s Shonda Rhimes-produced Scandal. The drama will wrap its seven-season run on April 19. Washington earned an Emmy nomination in 2013 for the role, marking the first time an African-American was nominated for best drama actress in the past 18 years. Washington also starred and exec produced HBO’s Emmy-nominated telepic Confirmation, for which she earned an Emmy nomination for her role as Anita Hill. She also exec produces the ABC comedy pilot Man of the House and the Facebook Watch show Five Points. The actress is repped by CAA, Washington Square Films and Hansen Jacobson.
Washington becomes the latest Scandal star to book her follow-up role. Bellamy Young and Scott Foley will both stay at ABC with leads in the pilots False Profits and Whiskey Cavalier, respectively; and Emmy winner Joe Morton will co-star in CBS’ God Friended Me.
Tigelaar, currently a co-exec producer on Apple’s Witherspoon-Aniston morning show drama, counts Hulu’s Casual, ABC’s The Astronaut Wives Club, A&E’s Bates Motel, ABC’s Nashville, Revenge and Once Upon a Time and creating The CW’s Life Unexpected among her credits. She is repped by UTA and Ziffren Brittenham.
Ng is with UTA and The Book Group.
Little Fires Everywhere is a big sell for ABC Signature Studios, the cable-focused arm of Disney’s ABC Studios. ABC Signature’s credits include Freeform’s Marvel drama Cloak and Dagger, FXX’s animated Deadpool comedy, Hulu’s Runaways, Showtime’s SMILF and Confirmation, among others.