The Scoop On P-Dub’s Movie Deal

by anna on March 18, 2010

pioneer woman movie

Folks, I’ve got a little bit more information on the Pioneer Woman Movie deal for your reading pleasure.

Interestingly enough, Ree told me that the deal was not something she actively pursued or that an agent ever had to shop around. That’s right, the people from Sony pictures came to her about a movie possibility after they had read an article in the LA Times about the blog last year prior to the release of The Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook. Ree had several conversations with them, and determined that a partnership would fit, since the executives really seemed to understand the love story and all of its elements, i.e. “the humor, the adventure, the conflict, my developmentally disabled brother Mike, my divorcing parents, and a couple of other circumstances that will come to light in the book” and so she decided “it would be nothing but fun to move forward with them.”

[By the way, that crashing sound you just heard was the sound of the skulls of all the failed screenwriters at the Starbucks at the corner of Franklin and Highland in Hollywood cracking against their Mac laptops in unison as they realized that there is a faster way to get an unsolicited movie deal than drinking $5 coffee, wearing clean jeans that are made to look dirty, and going to AA meetings at the Lodge in West Hollywood. And now, they're all rushing out to get fitted for chaps, and trying to track down someone who can set up their WordPress installs. Call me, guys, mmkay? I digress.]

The source I cited this morning claimed that the option signed was a deal for the story behind the entirety of ThePioneerWoman.Com, and this is not true. It is actually only for the love story, “Black Heels To Tractor Wheels,” which will be published in a book next February. I decided to ask Ree a couple other questions, and she was kind enough to humor my rudeness, lack of manners, and insatiable curiosity. Below are my questions and her answers; I’m sure this story will continue to be updated as the project progresses, but below is a better idea of the deal thusfar.

Did you ever think Reese Witherspoon would be playing you?
Reese is interested in the project, but has not committed to it. I think a screenplay would have to come first, then she’d decide whether or not to move forward. (Actually, the book would have to come first. Which means I have to finish the book first.) I think she’d do a wonderful job, and I hope she does it.

Do you have any say in any of the creative choices of the movie?
I don’t think I would have any official up or down vote, but judging from the interaction I’ve had with Laura Ziskin and Pam Williams (producers), if I had a strong objection or preference I’m sure they would consider my feedback.

Does this deal give you a piece of the backend, or was it a flat fee upfront sold along with your book rights?
Through my literary agent, I enlisted the help of a film agent to do the negotiation since I obviously knew zilch about it. I wound up with a good, standard deal in which I would receive a fee up front, then be compensated based on the movie’s budget, not based on box office receipts. The whole thing definitely has a ceiling, which is fine with me since I won’t be the one doing the bulk of the work.

Who are you going to get to make your dress for the premiere? Can I offer suggestions for great LA hairstylists?
Can I not wear jeans? Because that’s all I wear. Will that be a problem?

I’m guessing that it won’t be a problem, actually, Ree. I think you’ve already showed us you’re going to make your own rules in this game. Congrats!

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Heather March 18, 2010 at 9:08 pm

Wow, so many people in cyberspace could take a lesson in grace from this woman.

anna March 18, 2010 at 9:11 pm

I agree. I am a real fangirl of hers, particularly when it comes to handling her business.

Kerry March 19, 2010 at 5:38 am

A-freakin-men to that.

I’m not particularly a fan of her blog (I’m just not a cattle ranch type of person), but I am increasingly a big fan of her. She has class. You can’t help but root for her.

LC March 18, 2010 at 9:28 pm

So the only problem I have with all of this is that it’s probably years off from completion. Go Ree!

anna March 19, 2010 at 7:06 am

Oh, absolutely. Reese Witherspoon hasn’t signed on it yet, only expressed interest. And only a tiny amount of movies ever actually get made. But I think that it sounds like there’s a good chance this one will, because the producers are so motivated, and with interest from a big star, that’s a good sign. But since Ree’s book doesn’t come out until next February, it probably will be a while.

adrienne March 18, 2010 at 9:33 pm

How exciting. I read and loved the story on her blog.

Eliz March 19, 2010 at 5:56 am

Totally a class act. I don’t read her regularly, either, but she has obviously done it right, every step of the way. And I know in the end it doesn’t matter how well the movie captures her life or what her fans think of the movie. She’s the one who gets to cash that check.

anna March 19, 2010 at 7:08 am

Yeah, I think that they will always say, “they didn’t get this right” or whatever, but you know Ree’s fanbase is different from, say, Dooce’s. They might notice that stuff, but so many of them just genuinely LOVE her, I think they will just be thrilled to see her make it to the big screen.

anna March 19, 2010 at 7:09 am

. . . which is why I think this movie would be absurdly successful — it’s got a huge built-in audience already, and then it has mass appeal, too, because it’s just a classic love story, which always sells well at the box office. They’d be silly not to make it.

jonniker March 19, 2010 at 9:58 am

Dude, Anna, I’m stoked for you that she talked to you and handled it so gracefully. This is awesome — for her AND for you. I think this is a huge coup for you, and a big lesson for others.

Ree is something to behold, that’s for sure. I think she’s a person who WAS, to some degree, surprised that her blog became such a successful business (who could have predicted THIS?), but once it started to keel that way, instead of being “Aww, shucks!” about it, she embraced it and channeled her inner businesswoman and kicked ass.

anna March 19, 2010 at 10:27 am

Pioneer Woman has always been ultra professional with me, and is very generous with the information she’ll share. I think it just shows that you can still answer these sort of questions without totally giving up everything — we don’t know how much she got for the movie, for example, but we know something about the structure of the deal and that’s more than enough, as far as I’m concerned.

I think she’s very graceful anyway, but it also helps that she’s not threatened, she knows that press (in all of its forms, even if it’s just another blog) is part of her business.

beth aka confusedhomemaker March 19, 2010 at 10:34 am

I really like her already, she’s got a way about her that is smart & yet very endearing. (I also have ranch fantasies). But the more I see how she handles herself as a business woman the more I like her & think more people should look to how she is able to be a powerful woman in business with grace & style (something lacking among a lot of men & women).

monkey March 19, 2010 at 11:43 am

Congrats to her on the movie…and to you on the scoop!

Rechelle March 19, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Hey Ya’ll! I have a much more interesting, funny and honest article up about PW’s movie up over at my site! Since appghthiidhhit (whatev) is always trying to suck off my traffic, I thought I would suck off hers for once. C’mon over and visit

anna March 20, 2010 at 7:33 am

Thanks for stopping by Rechelle. I actually went to your site because somebody linked me up in your comments, not because I was trying to steal your traffic. In any case, I assure you that this article is 100% honest — I’m not a regular reader of Ree’s website, and I’m not really in her demographic, but I can assure you that I have nothing but respect for her as a businesswoman and how she handles herself in the blogosphere. I’ll tolerate a lot of things, but calling me a liar is not one of them.

-R- March 21, 2010 at 8:05 pm

I don’t read PW, but this is really interesting. She seems like a good person and a really smart businesswoman.

Deana Birks March 21, 2010 at 9:45 pm

If anyone’s blog/soon-to-be-book deserves to be a movie, it’s hers. I mean, it really does have the “feel” of a romance novel or chick flick. Though I would have definitely thought it was more of a Sandra Bullock role than a Reese Witherspoon.

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