Karenna Gore and former Obama Administration advisor Barry Johnson are executive producing a movie based on Jarid Manos’ memoir “Ghetto Plainsman,” Variety has learned exclusively.
Jordan Walker-Pearlman (“The Visit”) is directing from a script he co-wrote with Carlton Jordan and Manos, along with Elizabeth Hunter. Walker-Pearlman and Jordan (“Love Handles”) are also producing.
Johnson arranged the film’s financing. He’s a business executive who has worked for the Obama Administration, Sony Music, Disney, the Staubach Company, and the joint venture of Microsoft and BET.
“Ghetto Plainsman,” published in 2007, covers a man’s journey to find himself from his abusive rural Ohio childhood to the violent streets of 1990s New York, where he’s a drug dealer and self-loathing hustler, to America’s Great Plains — where he comes face to face with similar violence caused by man’s inhumanity towards nature. He sees his connection to all forms of life and transforms himself into the leader of a new ecological health movement.
“This movie is vital, refreshing, and timely for the enlightenment it seeds and the stereotypes it uproots about human relations, sexual identity, ecological activism, and the connectedness of it all,” Johnson said.
Walker-Pearlman said, “This story, Jarid’s experience as relayed in the book, is three decades of an American life. It’s difficult to describe the breath of emotions of it in a few words, but I passionately believe we’ll be able to do it on screen.”
Principal photography will commence this fall in New York and the Great Plains.
Jordan said “Ghetto Plainsman” is unique due to its stories of redemption thorough environmental activism and characters of color. “I hope while following Jarid’s evolution from hustler to activist, it can inspire audiences to be woken to the state of the planet and all living things,” he added.
Gore is director of the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary. She previously worked as a lawyer and as director of community affairs for the Association to Benefit Children and is the author of “Lighting the Way: Nine Women Who Changed Modern America.”
“Ghetto Plainsman” marks Karenna Gore’s first involvement in a feature film. She and her father’s Harvard roommate, Tommy Lee Jones, officially nominated Al Gore as the presidential candidate during the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles.
Her father was the subject of 2006’s Oscar-winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”
Walker-Pearlman is a nephew of Gene Wilder, who helped raise him and introduce him to the world of arts and entertainment, while actor Sidney Poitier served as an early mentor.
Jordan’s film “The Visit,” starring Hill Harper, Phylicia Rashad, and Billy Dee Williams, was nominated for four Independent Spirit awards and won the National Board of Review Freedom of Expression Award. He is a producer on the upcoming “The Simian Line,” directed by Linda Yellen, and made his feature film acting debut in Chris Cherot’s “Sex and Violence! Or: A Brief Review of Simple Physics.”