While her husband (Spike Lee) hustles to raise $1.25 million to produce his next indie feature film, Tonya Lewis Lee is already on to the next one - or I should say, on to the next five!
Via her production company, Tonik Productions (with partner Nikki Silver), Tonya Lewis Lee already has The Watsons Go to Birmingham, starring Anika Noni Rose, David Alan Grier, Skai Jackson and Wood Harris, made and scheduled to debut both in theaters and on the Hallmark Channel this fall.
And, announced today, Tonik Productions has optioned film rights to the YA Gallagher Girls book series, with the goal being to produce a big-screen franchise based on the novels.
Written by Sarah Leigh Fogleman under the pen name Ally Carter, Gallagher Girls centers on the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women in Roseville, Va., which fronts as an institution for geniuses, but is actually a training facility for the CIA.
"It’s important for us to have things that are about diversity and empowerment -- and it’s kick-ass and fun," said Tonya Lewis Lee in a press statement. “Nikki and I like to have provocative, interesting conversations that push us to grow and evolve. I think in our work our desire is to make people think, to make people feel and to push the envelop a little bit. Even in something like Gallagher Girls that might seem so initially mainstream, I think the themes of girl empowerment and global inclusion are what really draw us to the work.”
Currently, a writer is being sought to adapt the novels.
And secondly, Tonik Productions is also prepping an adaptation of another YA novel - this one by Lois Lowry, titled The Giver.
The project is apparently all-set for production, with shooting scheduled to begin next month, with Phillip Noyce directing and Jeff Bridges starring.
Walden Media and The Weinstein Co. are partnering to produce.
Says Silver of the book: “It’s the mother of all dystopian fiction. It’s the story of a boy in a futuristic utopian society, who is given the job of holding all the memories of the past. He starts to understand what the world has given up in order to attain this sameness and how emotions are really what make us human beings.”
But that's not all!
Tonik’s slate also includes an adaptation of yet another YA novel - this one by Walter Dean Myer, titled Monster, which is about a 16-year-old African American boy jailed for murder, which Radha Blank (go Radha!) is adapting and which they hope to film next spring.
And then there's an adaptation of Tonya Lewis Lee’s own satirical novel Gotham Diaries, which she co-authored with Crystal McCrary Anthony; and there's also an adaptation of Mary V. Dearborn’s Mistress of Modernism: The Life of Peggy Guggenheim, a biography of the celebrated art collector, which Tonya Lewis Lee is adapting with Dan Friedman.
So, as you can see, busy, busy, busy... she's certainly getting things done! Clearly, it's all about novels (mostly YA novels). Sorry, writers of original screenplays...