Paramount-based John Goldwyn has optioned “City of Water,” David Grann’s New Yorker magazine story about the massive system of underground tunnels that deliver New York City’s water.
The former Par prexy, who segued into an exclusive production deal with the studio in January, has tapped Eric Singer to pen the project with an eye to developing a high-stakes drama set in an unknown, idiosyncratic world far beneath New York.
Grann’s story, published last September, focused on construction of the city’s $6 billion Third Water Tunnel, a 60-mile project that launched in 1970 with a completion date of 2020. Paramount production prexy Karen Rosenfelt oversees “City of Water” for the studio.
Script will focus on the enormous complications involved in the construction of the new tunnel along with deterioration of existing century-old tunnels. Key characters will be a union leader — part of a long line of “sand hogs” who devote their lives to building and repairing the system — and his engineer son, the first in his family employed above ground.
Goldwyn said Singer, who had attempted to option Grann’s piece, approached him with the notion of focusing the story on mythic figures engaged in anonymous acts of heroism. He and Singer are conducting research with Gotham’s Dept. of Environmental Protection and other primary sources.
“We see this as a cautionary tale and a exploration of how a father and son resolve extremely complex problems,” Goldwyn told Daily Variety. “But this is not going to be another New York disaster movie.”
Singer’s written actioner “The International” for Sony and Western “The Pretenders” for Universal.
Goldwyn’s involved in developing Alexandra Robbins’ “Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities” and Sabin Willett’s “Present Value,” along with Lorne Michaels projects “Sebastian Knight” and “Mall Cops.” He’s teamed with director brother Tony Goldwyn on an untitled thriller and is developing a remake, with father Samuel Goldwyn Jr., of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”