821 Grows the Hollywood-Nashville Connection

821821 Entertainment, the Music City company headed by Pres. Anastasia Brown and CEO Eric Geadelmann, has optioned the film rights to one of John Grisham’s biggest bestsellers. That project, along with the company’s upcoming Roy Rogers trilogy, will offer many possibilities for the use of Nashville music, says 821 COO Graham Chalfant.

Grisham has been declining offers to make a movie of his novel The Testament—one of his personal favorites—since its release in 1999. But well-known producers Mark Johnson (Chronicles of Narnia, The Notebook, Donnie Brasco, Rain Man) and Hunt Lowry (Grisham’s A Time To Kill, Last of The Mohicans, Blue Collar Comedy Tour) convinced him otherwise. Johnson, an Academy Award winner, and Lowry partnered with 821 to co-produce The Testament and provide development financing.

The film, set in Washington DC and the Brazillian outback, is about a billionaire who leaves his fortune to an illegitimate daughter living in Brazil, and the lawyer who helps her fend off her father’s other relatives.

Chalfant, a former banker, says 821 is now focused on finding a screenwriter and adapting the novel in a way that Grisham sees fit. The company could finance the project but would prefer to co-finance with a studio. According to Variety, 821 is “in the throes of raising $250 million in equity and debt to finance productions with ‘heartland appeal.’”

With plans to work on 16 films in the next five years, 821 is also busy with its newly announced King of the Cowboys film trilogy based on Roy Rogers. Through a partnership with Rogers’ heirs, there will be a family fantasy adventure movie, as well as animated TV, interactive game and merchandising efforts.

Geadelmann and Chalfant recently sat down with Fox News to elaborate on the company’s effort to turn stories from America’s heartland into movies and television shows. Watch it at http://www.821entertainment.com/foxbusiness.cfm

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Sarah Skates has worked in the music business for more than a decade and is a longtime contributor to MusicRow.

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