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Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington to bring Shaker Heights' 'Little Fires Everywhere' to TV
Washington will likely play Mia Warren ... The first chapters of the novel are peppered with vivid Shaker details: two-family homes built to look like one, employees at Heinen's who carry your groceries to your car, scooters that pick up your trash ...
By Emily Bamforth, cleveland.com
SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio -- Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington are bringing Celeste Ng's Shaker Heights novel, "Little Fires Everywhere," to TV.
Witherspoon and Washington, who both own production companies, will star in the adaptation of the 1990s-set novel, which has made the New York Times bestseller list and earned top book picks from Amazon, Goodreads and the New York Times.
There's no word yet on whether shooting will take place in Shaker Heights, where Ng grew upNg recently filled an auditorium at Shaker Heights Middle School for a talk and book signing.
"I think she conveyed a sense of a community that had traditions that were very strong," Mayor Earl Leiken said"I think it portrayed much of what Shaker's about, but not everythingI enjoyed the story very much, I thought the author was an excellent storyteller."
Shaker Heights isn't just the setting for "Little Fires Everywhere." The perfection of the planned community sets the structure for the entire plot, about the disarray created by an artist and her daughter who move to town.
We assume Witherspoon will play the character of Elena Richardson, the mother of four teenagers, who Ng writes, "had been brought up to follow rules, to believe that the proper functioning of the world depended upon her compliance." The fictional Richardson writes for the weekly Sun News, now an affiliate of cleveland.com.
Washington will likely play Mia Warren, the mother of Pearl, who befriends the entire Richardson clan; a transient photographer who throws Richardson's rules and beliefs into question.
Y'all! I'm so excited to tell you that @kerrywashington and I will be bringing Little Fires Everywhere to the screen together ! [?] [?] [?] I love this beautiful book about motherhood [?] and I can't wait to finally collaborate with one of my favorite actresses@hellosunshine Link in bio for details !
A post shared by Reese Witherspoon (@reesewitherspoon) on Mar 2, 2018 at 2:10pm PST
Ng told NPR last year the city is its own character in the book:
"'Writing about my hometown is a little bit like writing about a relative,' she says'You see all of the great things about them, you love them dearly, and yet you also know all of their quirks and their foibles.'"
Suzanne DeGaetano, owner of the independent bookstore Mac's Backs on Coventry -- mentioned in the novel -- said copies flew off shelves.
"When people can visualize the actual setting, it makes for a different kind of reading experience," she said"Celeste herself is a really nice, genuine, authentic person, I think she's a natural writer as wellI think it's a great local story, she deserves her success."
DeGaetano said the book makes readers extremely invested in the characters and makes you wonder what's next, perfect for a TV adaptation.
The first chapters of the novel are peppered with vivid Shaker details: two-family homes built to look like one, employees at Heinen's who carry your groceries to your car, scooters that pick up your trash so you don't leave an unsightly mess at the curb, the appropriate colors to paint your house
There are few wrong notes; Ng writes of a McMansion built in Lakewood, for exampleBut for the most part of the scenes of Shaker are spot-on, Shaker residents have said in Facebook discussions.
Monterey, California, starred in many scenes of the Emmy Award-winning "Big Little Lies" -- another novel-turned-show which Witherspoon produced and starred inThere were moody shots of waves crashing on the rocky shore, pans of glossy oceanfront mansions, an opening montage with a drive across the photogenic Bixby Creek bridge, scenes of coffee at Fishermen's WharfNow there are travel stories devoted to finding where Madeline, Celeste and Jane spent their days.
In Shaker, you can imagine scenes on the expansive lawn of the red-brick Shaker Heights High SchoolOr pans of the Georgian mansions that preside over South and North Park boulevards.
"I hope they film in Shaker!" said Kristen Deramo, a Shaker native who left home in 1992 and returned to raise her family in 2014"There must be homes on the market that a film crew could rent and use for filmingThe appearance of Shaker is very unique and it would make everything more realistic to do it here."
Deramo said the book is fairly accurate.
"My experience of Shaker growing up - and the reason I wanted to move back with my own kids - is that I did experience Shaker as a very friendly, progressive, unique and diverse place," she said.
Leiken, though, says the city was never as affluent as Ng portrays, he said.
According to the most recent census data, the median household income in Shaker Heights is $79,519About 8 percent of people in Shaker live below the poverty line.
Washington and Witherspoon are currently pitching the show to premium cable and streaming services.
"(This kind of exposure) helps our community from a even stronger national presence," Leiken said about the potential for filming"I think people are pleased about it and excited about it."
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