Judy Blume is finally letting Hollywood have a crack at one of her most iconic works. Per Deadline, the author has given director Kelly Fremon Craig and producer James L. Brooks the green light to adapt Are You There God? Its Me, Margaret, her seminal 1970 novel about a young girl navigating puberty and the pains of growing up. Fremon Craig will write and direct the adaptation; Brooks will produce under his Gracie Films banner.
This is the first time Blume has ever granted the rights to the novel. The prolific writer has famously been opposed to screen adaptations of her works, with just two exceptions: the 1978 TV movie adaptation of Forever, and the 2012 adaptation of Tiger Eyes, both of which were largely forgettable. But in August, the author tweeted that she had had a change of heart, and that she was taking meetings in Los Angeles to see which of her books could potentially be made into films or TV series. “I think the time has come,” she wrote.
Fremon Craig is perfectly suited for the material, having made her feature directorial debut with the Y.A. dramedy The Edge of Seventeen. That film, which she wrote and directed, and which Brooks produced, is another coming-of-age tale starring Hailee Steinfeld as an acerbic high schooler dealing with the ripple effects of her fathers death.
In an interview with Deadline, Fremon Craig said she had actually just finished re-reading Are You There God? around the time that Blume tweeted about taking L.A. meetings, inspired by a friend whose daughter had just read it for the first time. “I was surprised when I read it, how much it took me back and that I hadnt forgotten those feelings,” the director said. “They live in me forever. And the strangest and most serendipitous thing happened with Judys tweet, that she was considering opening up her titles to be adapted. I read this at 3 A.M., and wrote my reps in the middle of the night: do whatever you can to get this. Then I wrote a long and passionate e-mail to her, telling her what her books meant to me, particularly Margaret, how it came along at a time when I needed it most.”
She then put in a call to Brooks, who was immediately on board. His granddaughter, he told Deadline, had also just read the book. (Its timeless, honey!) The pair flew to meet with Blume and her husband, George, in Key West, where the couple run a bookstore and movie theater that, in another serendipitous twist, is where Blume watched The Edge of Seventeen. The author apparently loved the film. “I got the greatest e-mail from Judy, where she said if someone were to make a film of one of her books, she hoped it would have the same tone and feeling that The Edge of Seventeen had,” Fremon Craig said. “Its maybe the greatest compliment Ive ever gotten, because she has always been a North Star for me as a writer.”
Fremon Craig has already begun working on the screenplay, and the production team will wait to secure a distributor until the script is complete, Brooks says.
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Yohana DestaYohana Desta is a Hollywood writer for VanityFair.com.