October 19, 2010 / 2:59 AM / 9 years ago

Judy Blume adapting "Tiger Eyes" for big screen

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The Judy Blume young-adult novel “Tiger Eyes” is heading to the big screen, and the author has a hand in the adaptation. Blume wrote the screenplay with her son Lawrence Blume, who also is directing.

“Tiger Eyes” marks her first novel to be translated to a feature film, although there have been several TV incarnations, notably a Fudge series and two ABC Weekend specials (one adapting “Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great”) in the 1990s. “Forever” was turned into TV movie in 1978.

U.K.-based retail giant Tesco is financing the film as part of a multipicture deal based on adaptations of best-selling novels. The production, budgeted at less than $5 million, will look for a U.S. distributor when done shooting.

Written in 1981, “Tiger Eyes” tells of a teenage girl whose family is forced to move in with relatives in New Mexico after her father is killed in a convenience story robbery. She meets an American Indian teen named Wolf, whose father is a terminally ill patient in the hospital at which the girl volunteers. Together they help overcome her fear and grief.

Blume revealed that when she first wrote the story, it was primarily about a family relocating to a new town — as she did when she moved with her teenage children to Los Alamos, N.M. But it later occurred to her that the novel was her subconscious way of dealing with her memory of her father, who also died suddenly.

“I will swear to you, when I wrote this book, I didn’t know it would have anything to do with my father’s death. I can’t even talk about it without choking up,” Blume told The Hollywood Reporter. “When I was very young, my dad died suddenly. I was with him. You never get over that. It’s always there, it’s a big part of your life. It’s a big hole.”

Blume said she hasn’t been star-struck by Hollywood despite being continually approached. She describes going on what she calls “Judy Sweetheart” lunches (where execs ask her, ‘Judy, sweetheart, what do you want to do?”) and being less than enthralled with the Fudge series.

“I know I have reputation for not selling my books (to Hollywood). And now I’m glad,” she said. “Because here I am, working with a director I trust, someone I know understands those characters.”

Lawrence Blume said he’s been itching to adapt “Tiger Eyes” since he was in film school.

“I first read it when I was a freshman,” he said. “Of all of Judy’s books, this and ‘Summer Sisters’ has the most cinematic style and would be reasonable to adapt. It’s always been a dream of mine and now, 30 years later ...”

Production begins in Santa Fe on Wednesday, and the production will try to use as many of the book’s New Mexico locales as possible.

“Gossip Girl” actress Willa Holland is playing the teen girl, Davey, while newcomer Tatanka Means plays Wolf. Cynthia Stevenson, Amy Jo Johnson, Russell Means and Elise Eberle also are in the cast.

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