EXCLUSIVE: Amid the glut of supernatural sagas littering the young adult book-to-screen market, two former studio execs are looking to a lit source with no vampires, werewolves, or otherworldly shenanigans for inspiration. Ex-Miramax colleagues Timothy Schmidt and Steve Hutensky (most recently of Relativity Media) have jointly optioned film rights to the upcoming YA novel series Personal Statement by Emmy-nominated writer Jason Odell Williams. The book is the first in a series entitled The Personals to be released next month by In This Together Media and follows high school overachiever Emily as she heads, BFF in tow, to a town rocked by a natural disaster to score the volunteering credit she needs for Ivy League college admissions.
Schmidt’s Elm Tree Entertainment and Hutensky’s Walk the Walk Entertainment banners struck a three-picture deal with the lit outfit for a potential screen trilogy. The pair of studio vets and college pals teamed up after doing time together at Miramax in the early 2000s. After that Schmidt dove into the theater biz with a stint at Madison Square Garden Entertainment; he recently produced the off-Broadway production Rated P for Parenthood. Schmidt’s theater work put him in touch with author and playwright Williams (Baltimore In Black And White, Handle With Care), who recently earned an Emmy nod for his work on National Geographic’s Brain Games. Williams’ manuscript struck a chord with Schmidt’s target demo kid. “When your teenage daughter reacts to the galley with ‘Dad, this is my life!’ you pick up the phone and make the deal,” says Schmidt. Wright will co-adapt his satirical novel with Charlotte Cohn.
Meanwhile Hutensky departed his post as SEVP and Head of Business Affairs at Relativity almost two years ago and struck out own his own. His credits include exec producing The Human Stain at Miramax and overseeing The Fighter and Limitless at Relativity. Walk The Walk Entertainment’s portfolio includes docu Wake Up and upcoming features 2:22 and the Dustin Lance Black-penned The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight.