EXCLUSIVE: Daniel Schulman’s bestselling nonfiction book Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty is in the works for the small screen. Stephen Robert Morse’s (Amanda Knox, Eurotrump) Observatory and Max Peltz’s Cavendish Pictures have optioned the rights to the book to develop both fiction and non-fiction projects. The plan is likely for a limited series as well as a documentary, they say. The deal comes just days after the passing of billionaire industrialist David Koch.
SmithDehn LLP (Knock Down The House, Who Is America?, Citizenfour), is backing the project as production counsel.
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With strong positions on issues like climate change denial and small government, the Koch brothers have been a political tour de force for decades. The Libertarian and Republican- supporting Koch brothers have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to right wing causes.
“This is the most definitive story of a true American dynasty, and with so many potent political issues at the forefront, it is as relevant today as ever before,” said Morse, adding “I worked with Daniel Schulman over a decade ago at Mother Jones magazine. I knew he was talented then, and I’d read his book a while ago. I asked my trusted partner Max Peltz to read it, as the Koch brothers were on my mind again and again. Max was absolutely floored.”
“We learned that the rights were set to expire from the hands of an A-list director who has five Oscar nominations,” Peltz explained. “We quietly waited in the wings for months to option the material as soon as the rights became available.”
Schulman is Mother Jones‘ deputy Washington, DC bureau chief.
Morse was nominated for a 2017 Primetime Emmy Award for producing the Netflix hit documentary Amanda Knox. He went on to write, direct and produce the critically acclaimed Eurotrump, and also executive produced Freedom for the Wolf about the global threats to liberal democracy, winner of the 2018 Audience Award at the SlamdanceFilm Festival. He is now directing and producing Southern Gothic, a documentary about the 1983 murder of Timothy Coggins in Spalding County, Georgia.
Peltz has worked across production and development for the last seven years, with films he has been involved with airing on BBC’s flagship Storyville strand, Netflix, SVT, Sky Italia, DR, TVO, NRT, Yes! and other international broadcasters. He previously worked at A24 Films and Amber Television, heading up their documentary slate.
This is the third collaboration for Morse and Peltz. They have a soon-to-be announced sports project slated for release in 2020. They are also wrapping a documentary alongside RadicalMedia, Southern Gothic, about the 1983 murder of Timothy Coggins in Spalding County, Georgia. Morse and Peltz are repped by CAA.