Witherspoon and Washington will both star in and executive produce the project, which has received an eight-episode order. Liz Tigelaar will serve as showrunner, and is also set to write the adaptation. The series is based on Celeste Ng’s 2017 bestseller of the same name. The book traces the fallout in a suburban Ohio community when a single mother and her daughter move into the town and a custody battle erupts over a Chinese-American baby.
“Celeste wove a beautiful, riveting story that spoke to all of us, and when we heard the vision Reese, Kerry and Liz have for the series, we knew immediately that we had to bring it to Hulu,” said Hulu’s chief content officer Joel Stillerman. “We’re honored to bring this powerful story to the screen with Hello Sunshine, in their first studio project. This is exactly the type of compelling and culturally relevant content that embodies our Hulu Originals brand.”
The project sparked a major bidding war across cable networks and streaming platforms. Witherspoon will produce under her Hello Sunshine banner, while Washington will produce via her Simpson Street banner. Hello Sunshine, in its first venture as a studio, and ABC Signature will serve as studio co-production partners on the project. Hello Sunshine is responsible for leading creative on the project. Pilar Savone of Simpson Street and Lauren Neustadter of Hello Sunshine will also executive produce. Ng will serve as producer.
Witherspoon and Neustadter became aware of the book prior to its publication. Witherspoon chose the book as her September 2017 book club pick and shortly thereafter it became a bestseller. Witherspoon then brought the book to Washington, and together they approached Tigelaar to adapt it as a series.
“At Hello Sunshine, we strive to shine a light on female-driven stories that are rooted in inspiration, emotion and truth – all of which form the bedrock of Celeste Ng’s ingenious work,” said Witherspoon. “Hulu has a rich history of transforming groundbreaking literature into groundbreaking television, and we are confident that their talented team will use this story to spur a long-overdue dialogue around race, class, and what it means to be a mother. With Kerry Washington, Liz Tigelaar and now Hulu, Hello Sunshine has brought together a dream lineup of creative collaborators, and we are privileged and humbled to have the opportunity to work with them to bring this important project to life.”
This is the latest in a string of television projects Witherspoon is set to produce. She and Jennifer Aniston will star in as-yet untitled morning show drama for Apple, and she will executive produce “Are You Sleeping,” co-produced by Chernin Entertainment with Octavia Spencer attached to star, also for Apple. She is also set to appear in the second season of the critically-acclaimed HBO series “Big Little Lies,” which she also executive produces.
Washington has also expanded into producing, with the “Scandal” star set to executive produce the current ABC comedy pilot “Man of the House” starring Alyson Hannigan. She is also an executive producer on the Facebook Watch series “Five Points,” both through her Simpson Street banner.
“As producers, we at Simpson Street are so proud to be part of this team to tell this extraordinary story inspired by Celeste Ng’s phenomenal novel and we are thrilled to be embarking on this journey with Hulu,” said Washington. “As an actress, I am floored to have the opportunity to work alongside Reese Witherspoon exploring the rich themes of this story playing these dynamic characters.”
Witherspoon is represented by CAA, LBI and Gretchen Rush at Hansen, Jacobson, while Hello Sunshine is represented by CAA and Gretchen Rush at Hansen, Jacobson.
Washington is repped by CAA, Washington Square Arts, and Gretchen Rush at Hansen, Jacobson, and Ng is repped by UTA and Julie Barer at The Book Group. Tigelaar is represented by UTA and Wendy Kirk at Ziffren, Brittenham.
“Were thrilled to be in business with these incredible women, each a powerhouse in her own right. This is another example of an exciting partnership for ABC Signature as we continue to build our production slate in the streaming space. We’re excited to have another project with our friends at Hulu, which is an ideal home for this project,” said Patrick Moran, president, ABC Studios/ABC Signature.