FremantleMedia has taken the rights to Heather Lende’s memoirs, “Find the Good” and “If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name,” and will package and pitch them to U.S. and international channels as an accessible family drama.
Lende grew up on Long Island’s North Shore before moving to Alaska in the 1980s. The books, based on her life as a small-town obituary writer who investigates the lives of her recently deceased neighbors, will form the basis of the series. Brian Pines, producer of ABC comedy “The Real O’Neals,” is Lende’s manager and will work on the new series with FremantleMedia.
Former Sundance TV executive Christian Vesper, who joined FremantleMedia last May, says the acquisition followed the drama team’s having seen a BBC article about Lende.
“We’ll package and develop it together, and Brian and I will executive produce it,” Vesper said. He added that in a market full of high-concept serialized fare, the aim is to make a broader, more accessible show. “We want to create an accessible family drama – look at the success of ‘This Is Us’ – and I think there will be interest in that. The audience wants something dramatic and family-based, and which is optimistic without being saccharine.”
Lende says that her obituary work provides for some uplifting stories. “Some people may think that what I do is morbid, but compared to front-page news these days, obituaries are downright inspirational,” she said. “I don’t write about death; I write about life, one person at a time, and I do it while living in community that is like a family.”
Talks are underway with a showrunner and writer, and FremantleMedia plans to pitch the project in the U.S. first. “The first step is to take it out in the U.S.,” Vesper said. “We want to take it to networks so it could go into their pilot season.”