If you didn't know who Caroline Calloway was before last week, that is likely no longer the case. The Instagram influencer-turned-failed-memoirist began trending after her ex-friend and sometime ghost writer, Natalie Beach, published an essay on The Cut detailing their toxic relationship and bizarre collaboration. The article, which has gone viral, is now making the rounds in Hollywood. And some insiders claim producers are clamoring to option it.
Beach is now represented by CAA and, despite the heavy interest in the piece--a number of scouts who spoke to PW on the condition of anonymity confirmed it is hotly contested--questions are lingering about what kind of project it can ultimately yield.
One scout said the article was "the thing" people were talking about last week. She elaborated that the article has "that 'trainwreck you can't look away from' quality."
Beach's article has sparked attention, in part, for the way it exposes a number of hot-button topics, from the nature of internet fame to the line between commercial branding and confessional storytelling in a post-truth, social media-obsessed culture. In the article, Beach details how she befriended Calloway as an undergrad at NYU, enamored, in part, by Calloway's seeming confidence and effortless beauty.
The friendship took on a more complex nature when Calloway began emerging as a popular figure on Instagram. After Beach offered to write some captions for Calloway (an early adopter of the platform's "stories" feature), their "collaboration" became muddier. Beach goes on to detail how Calloway, long obsessed with becoming a famous writer, sold a memoir to Flatiron Books for over $300,000. With a handshake deal to help her write the book, Beach became increasingly frustrated with Calloway, as well as concerned. Calloway, Beach realized, was actually struggling with mental health issues and an Adderall addiction. Ultimately, Calloway was unable to work on the book, Beach became disenfranchised and walked away, and the manuscript has yet to be delivered.
Flatiron did not respond to inquiries about the project, but Beach claimed Calloway still owes the publisher money. Calloway, asked about the status of the project via her representative, said "no comment."
Part of what has fascinated readers is the fact that Calloway, via Instagram, has been responding to the article in real time. At one point, shortly after the article appeared, Calloway announced that her father had died. That news, insiders said, put a brief pause on the submission of the article in Hollywood as, presumably, space was given to let Calloway grieve.
Amid all of the attention on both women, their motives have been questioned in some circles. Beach has demurred at the notion she's trying to profit off of Calloway's story. In an interview with the New York Times, when asked if she'd been approached by agents, Beach said she had been, but is "trying to take it really slow." She added that, when it comes to memoir, she's tried the form but "came to this realization that you have to sell off parts of yourself and you have to sell out your friends and your loved ones if you want to make a career off of that. I think that this isn’t the end for me in memoir writing, but I don’t want to build my life around having to dissect myself on a daily basis."
Others have questioned if the whole affair is a stunt engineered by the two women to reap a payoff, with pieces like the New York Post's recent one: "Caroline Calloway’s ex-BFF Natalie Beach denies they’re colluding for fame."
One scout said they felt the article was a stunt. Others simply confirmed that interest in Beach's story (which is, to an extent, Calloway's story), is quite high.
"I had a bunch of producers call and ask about it," said another scout, referring to a flurry of inquests last week. "I guess it has just enough gossipy-ness, a little social-media-envy spiked with a little literary revenge."
Another scout said CAA has been receiving "a ton of incoming interest" and is guessing the project will sell for adaptation soon. She then added: "People are going nuts for it."