Fox Searchlight sets up ‘Thousand Words’

'Easy A' scribe Bert Royal in talks to direct comedy

Fox Searchlight has optioned “A Thousand Words or Less,” a comedy spec from “Easy A” scribe Bert Royal. Royal is also attached to make his directorial debut.

Searchlight is eyeing Shailene Woodley, who stars in the banner’s “The Descendants,” to star.

Michelle Manning will produce with her MM Prods. banner along with Royal’s manager, Dana Jackson.

Story revolves around a national essay competition that sends three ambitious teenagers into a sexy game of one-upmanship.

Manning, a longtime production prexy at Paramount under Sherry Lansing, co-produced “The Breakfast Club” and served as associate producer on “Sixteen Candles.”

Last year’s “Easy A,” helmed by “Friends With Benefits” director Will Gluck, grossed $75 million worldwide.

Royal and Woodley, who also leads ABC Family’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” are repped by Paradigm. Woodley is also repped by the Savage Agency and managed by Principato-Young.

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