Drew Barrymore has signed to direct When the Street Lights Go On, a coming-of-age suburban murder mystery written by newcomers Eddie O’Keefe and Chris Hutton.
The Tracking-Board learned exclusively that Barrymore has signed and the project is being fast-tracked by producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer via their Imagine Entertainment company. Imagine acquired the spec script in July, and it recently placed third on TB’s “2011 Hit List” and second on this year’s prestigious “Black List,” annual compilations of Hollywood’s most-liked unproduced screenplays.
It’s unclear if Street Lights will be Barrymore’s next film, or one of a multitude of others she is reportedly involved with, like New Line’s How to Be Single based on Liz Tuccillo’s novel. It’s about a series of New Yorkers navigating relationship curves, and a potential structural follow-up to the studio’s other marketing monsters (Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, and the upcoming What to Expect When You’re Expecting). Maybe they will rethink the strategy after NYE’s record-breaking low weekend. In June, Shauna Cross, who wrote the adapted screenplay for Barrymore’s Whip It, was scripting Heist Society. According to THR, Warner Bros won a bidding war for the young adult thriller about a cat burglar girl who is pulled back into the illicit trade when her father is in trouble. Then there’s the long-gestating Wizard of Oz prequel titled Surrender Dorothy, according to Pajiba. (Is that even still happening?)
Meanwhile, Barrymore topped Forbes’ “Most Overpaid Stars” list this year after her underrated rom-com Going the Distance bombed at the box office in September 2010. That may have had more to do with Justin Long, her former beau and co-star. Whatever. I liked it.
Set in 1983, When the Street Lights Go On has an establishing narrator and tone similar to Rob Reiner’s Stand By Me or The Sandlot. The story is recounted by Charlie, 15 and the “young Steven Spielberg” who comes across the dead bodies of 17-year-old Chrissy Monroe, the town hottie, and Mr. Pulaski, the English teacher she was having an affair with.
Charlie’s narration about the murders and the Monroes focuses on two suspected classmates, Chrissy’s jock boyfriend Ben and a legendary bad boy named Casper Tatum, and how all three fell for Chrissy’s younger sister Becky.
Update for clarification: Charlie’s “young Steven Spielberg” trait refers to his look, not a passion for filmmaking.