Tim Blake Nelson has signed on to join Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski , and Kristen Bell in Ken Kwapis‘ (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, He’s Just Not That Into You) big screen adaptation of Whales. Based on Tom Rose’s nonfiction book “Freeing the Whales: How the Media Created the World’s Greatest Non-Event” about three California Gray whales who were discovered imprisoned in the Arctic ice in 1988, and media madness that spawned around the rescue which “captured the imaginations of hundreds of millions of people.” The project was formerly titled “Everybody Loves Whales”. THR reports that Nelson will play a wildlife expert who works in the wildlife-management office.
Here is how THR describes the film’s plot:
Set in Cold War-era 1988, “Whales” tells the true story of a small-town news reporter (Krasinski) and a Greenpeace volunteer (Barrymore) who enlist the help of rival superpowers to save three majestic gray whales trapped under the ice of the Arctic Circle. Bell will play a reporter from Los Angeles aiming for the big time who thinks her greatest assets are her looks.
Working Title/Universal is hoping to get the film in production later this year. More on the book the movie will be based on:
From the front cover of the book:
…This is the real story behind the remarkable, bizarre and often times uproarious event that for a fortnight mesmerized an anxious world.
On October 7, 1988, an Eskimo hunter found three California Gray whales imprisoned in the Arctic ice. In the past as was nature’s way, trapped whales always died.
But this time incredible things began to happen:
- * More than 150 journalists from four continents representing at least 26 TV networks converged on the tiny Eskimo outpost of Barrow, Alaska, where on a chilly day the wind- whipped temperature can drop to 150 degrees below zero. Total cost of the media coverage and rescue – more than $5,795,000.
- * Millions of people watched while the President of the United States and the General Secretary of the Soviet Union joined in the rescue of the three imprisoned whales.
- * All because the struggle of the three trapped whales could be shown on global television, a democratic government a half a world away nearly collapsed.
- * The media paid up to $200 to Eskimo entrepreneurs for a one-way 5-mile dog sled ride to the whale site, and if they didn’t have enough cash for the return trip, they would have to wait until they were saved by rescue helicopters.
- * The most remarkable bond produced by the rescue connected a decorated combat Colonel in the Alaska National Guard and a lovely White House aide 7000 miles away. The two met, over the phone, fell in love and married – all because of three hapless whales.
- * Until recently the Russians operated the largest commercial whaling industry in the world. Then, as the result of just one phone call the Soviet Union sent two huge icebreakers to free the whales. Overnight the Soviets became instant environmentalists. Today, the Russians remain the world’s largest killers of Gray whales.
Yet, through the miracle of modern technology, the rescue of three whales caught in the Arctic ice captured the imaginations of hundreds of millions of people who for a brief moment in time felt that the world had become a better place for ourselves and the creatures who share it with us.