The List (Scholastic/PUSH, 2012), Siobhan Vivian’s YA novel about the fateful ranking of the ugliest and prettiest girl in each grade at Mount Washington High, has been optioned for television by MTV. Screenwriter Liz Maccie (Make It or Break It) will adapt the book for a TV series, and her husband, screenwriter/author/director Stephen Chbosky, has signed on as executive producer and will direct the series pilot if he is available.
For Chbosky, The List marks his first teen project since last year’s feature film version of his novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, for which he both wrote the screenplay and served as director. That film was shot in Pittsburgh, where Chbosky grew up, and coincidentally, where Vivian lives now.
“When I first got the call that Liz and Stephen were interested in adapting The List, I had to pinch myself,” said Vivian. “They are a dream team! I was already a fan of Liz’s work on Make It or Break It and, of course, Stephen is a legend. When we first got on the phone together, I was clutching my first edition copy of Perks the whole time!”
Chbosky and Maccie offered their thoughts on the strong appeal of this project for them. “What we were most drawn to in The List was Siobhan Vivian’s honest, realistic, truthful storytelling,” they said jointly, via e-mail. “These are real girls dealing with real issues. The story is compelling and heartwarming, funny and painful, and full of layers which felt personal yet universal. It is the perfect blend of heart and drama, making it ripe for a television adaptation. We also knew that its unique multi-POV perspective would give us a fresh exciting way to create television.”
Though these are early days, Vivian has been very pleased about being “kept in the loop” as things progress – an opportunity not always afforded authors. “I know it’s normal for the authors not to have any say, but Liz has sought my opinion multiple times as she worked on the pitch,” Vivian said.
Emily van Beek, senior v-p of Folio Jr./Folio Literary Management in New York, represented Vivian in the deal. “This is Siobhan’s most ambitious and successful to date,” van Beek noted. “The theme of beauty and identity, and how beauty influences sense of self have really touched a nerve.” Brandy Rivers, television literary agent with the Gersh Agency in Los Angeles, co-agented the deal. Fellow Gersh agent Lynn Fimberg represents Maccie. Chbosky is represented by William Morris Endeavor.
“If only I could go back in time and whisper in teenage Siobhan’s ear that, one day in the future, MTV would option her book for television!” Vivian mused. “Actually... better that can’t happen because I might just die of a heart attack.