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  • FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
  • TRISTAR PICTURES ACQUIRES WORLDWIDE RIGHTS TO BIG BEACH'S YOU ARE MY FRIEND, BASED ON THE LIFE OF FRED ROGERS, WITH TOM HANKS TO STAR, AND MARIELLE HELLER TO DIRECT
  • Culver City CA – January 29, 2018 – TriStar Pictures announced today they have acquired worldwide rights to You Are My Friend, from Big Beach (Little Miss Sunshine, Loving). Tom Hanks is attached to star as Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, the pioneering children's television series from The Fred Rogers Company that is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Marielle Heller (Diary of a Teenage Girl) will direct from a screenplay by Micah Fitzerman-Blue & Noah Harpster (Transparent, Beautiful Ruins). Marc Turtletaub and Peter Saraf of Big Beach will produce alongside Youree Henley (The Beguiled, 20th Century Woman). Leah Holzer of Big Beach will executive produce, along with Fitzerman-Blue and Harpster. The project originated from a true story developed by Fitzerman-Blue and Harpster, first appearing on the Black List in 2013.

    You Are My Friend is inspired by a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and award-winning journalist Tom Junod. In the heart-warming story, a cynical journalist begrudgingly accepts an assignment to write a profile piece on the beloved icon and finds his perspective on life transformed.

    "This is the perfect alchemy of talent coming together at the perfect time to remind us all of the transformative power of kindness and respect to heal and to unite. We are proud to partner with Marielle, Tom and everyone at Big Beach to bring this inspirational true story to audiences all over the world," said Hannah Minghella, President of TriStar Pictures.

    Turtletaub and Saraf said, "Now more than ever, we all need a re-introduction to Fred Rogers' message of uncompromising love and kindness between all living things. Mari Heller is the perfect visionary filmmaker to bring Noah and Micah's script to life and because of her vision and this remarkable script, we have the quintessential actor to play Fred Rogers. "

    Director Marielle Heller said, "I'm thrilled to be making You Are My Friend. The script knocked me out with its message of kindness and its exploration of the human spirit. As a mother, I am so inspired by the teachings of Fred Rogers and as a human I am in awe of his life's work. I can't wait to bring his story to the public and be a part of such a thoughtful, smart group of people who are all coming together to make this film, which truly feels to me like an antidote to our very fractured culture."

    Hannah Minghella and Shary Shirazi will oversee the project for TriStar Pictures. Production is set to begin in the fall.

    Tom Hanks is represented by CAA. Marielle Heller is represented by UTA and Ziffren Law Firm, Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster are represented by UTA and managed byKaplan/Perrone Entertainment and James Feldman at Lichter, Grossman Law Firm. Tom Junod is represented by Lucy Stille of APA and David Black of the David Black Agency.

    ABOUT SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT
    Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Entertainment Inc., which is a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE's global operations encompass motion picture production, acquisition, and distribution; television production, acquisition, and distribution; television networks; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; and development of new entertainment products, services and technologies. SPE's Motion Picture Group includes film labels Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems, TriStar Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation, and Sony Pictures Classics. For additional information, visit http://www.sonypictures.com/corp/divisions.html .

    About Big Beach Films
    Founded in 2004 by Marc Turtletaub and Peter Saraf, Big Beach produces and finances independent films, television and theater. Since the company's founding Big Beach has produced over a dozen acclaimed independent films including Academy Award nominated LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED adapted from the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, Colin Trevorrow's SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED and Jordan Vogt-Roberts THE KINGS OF SUMMER. Most recently Big Beach produced the academy award nominated LOVING, directed by Jeff Nichols, starring Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga and the 2018 Sundance Film Festival premieres PUZZLE, directed by Marc Turtletaub, starring Kelly Macdonald and Irrfan Khan and the animated feature based on Jack London's beloved best-selling novel WHITE FANG, directed by Alexandre Espigares and voiced by Rashida Jones, Nick Offerman and Paul Giamatti. Big Beach recently launched a television division run by Robin Schwartz who is currently overseeing production of showrunner Tanya Saracho's half hour Latinx drama, VIDA, for Starz.