Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are putting “The Reagans” behind them and “Going the Other Way.”
Storyline duo are teaming with helmer-producer Alan Poul (“More Tales From the City”) and Sony Pictures Television for a Showtime telepic based on the life story of gay ex-Major League Baseball player Billy Bean.
Two-hour pic, in the early stages of development, will be based on Bean’s 2003 autobiography “Going the Other Way: Lessons From a Life in and Out of Major League Baseball,” co-written by Chris Bull. Producers are currently searching for a writer to adapt the book for the screen.
Storyline TV topper Dave Mace will be a co-exec producer, with Sony longform topper Helen Verno supervising for the studio.
Showtime entertainment prexy Robert Greenblatt, who most recently worked with Zadan and Meron on “The Reagans,” said there is “a universality” to Bean’s tale.
Bean was an outfielder for several teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, from 1987 to 1995. He married his high school sweetheart, yet all the time kept hidden his homosexuality. He finally came out in 1999 following the death of his longtime lover and a mental breakdown. He left the game in 1996.
“It’s a great story of somebody who had to hide who he was and ultimately find the strength to reveal that in environment that was very dangerous,” Greenblatt said. “It’s a story of strength and conviction and becoming who you are.”
Poul first met Bean through Jeff Yarbrough, a news producer and Bean friend who will serve as a co-producer on the project. Even before Bean’s book was a reality, there was talk of a pic.
Bean said he was “contacted by quite a few people” about turning his story into a movie but said his relationship with Poul, Zadan and Meron made it easy to pact with the trio. “The idea that Craig, Alan and Neil are attached to this gives me great confidence in (the finished product),” he said. “They don’t need to make my book as a movie; there are a million other projects they could do.”
Bean also believes setting up the pic at Showtime will allow it to portray his story as honestly as possible. “Whatever the subject matter of the book, there won’t be any obstacles,” he said.
“It’s just a very compelling story that’s also true,” Greenblatt said. “He’s a very courageous and charismatic man, and it’s always great to tell these kinds of stories no matter how far we think we’ve come.”
Meron said WMA-repped Storyline was looking forward to telling Bean’s “enlightening, dramatic and emotional story,” while Zadan said the pic could be groundbreaking in the same way as another landmark pic the duo produced.
“A decade ago Storyline and Sony (along with Barbra Streisand and Glenn Close) produced ‘Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story,’ and it was a life-changing experience for all of us,” he said. “We look forward to… breaking new social ground by dramatizing this compelling and highly personal piece.”
Poul exec produced both “More Tales of the City” and “Further Tales of the City” for Showtime, with both projects snagging multiple Emmy noms.