In a competitive situation, Lionsgate has landed rights to bestselling author Steven Rowley’s new novel The Guncle, published published last week (buy at Amazon) by the Putnam imprint of Penguin Random House.
Rowley will adapt his novel and executive produce the movie. Kristin Burr will produce through her Burr! Productions.
By turns hilarious and profound, Rowley’s new novel follows a reclusive, once-famous gay television star who takes his young niece and nephew into his Palm Springs home after their mother dies suddenly, introducing them to his outsized life and unique wisdom and bringing about healing for all three.
Rob Weisbach will also produce. Jessica Friedman from Burr! Productions will co-produce.
“We’re always drawn to stories about people finding connection or growth where they least expect it,” said Erin Westerman, president of Production for the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group.
“This is a fresh, unexpected and heartwarming story of healing grief – a poignant look at family that feels of this moment. We’re thrilled to be partnering with Kristin and Steven and Rob on this wonderful story that will have everyone wishing they had a Guncle too.”
Burr added: “For anyone who’s ever had a guncle – or any uncle they love deeply but can’t imagine as a parent – this movie is for you.
“Steven’s novel is equally laugh-out-loud funny as it is insightful, and he has great ideas about how to adapt it for the screen.”
More about the novel: “Patrick O’Hara, or Gay Uncle Patrick (GUP, for short), has always loved his niece, Maisie, and nephew, Grant—from a comfortable distance. But in terms of caretaking and relating to two children, no matter how adorable, Patrick is, honestly, out of his league.
“So when tragedy strikes and Maisie and Grant lose their mother, Patrick finds himself suddenly taking on the role of primary guardian—and taking them into his Palm Springs home.
“Despite having a set of “Guncle Rules” ready to go, Patrick has no idea what to expect, having spent years barely holding on after the loss of his great love, a stalled acting career, and a life not-so-suited to a six- and a nine-year-old. Quickly realizing that parenting–even if temporary–isn’t solved with treats and jokes, Patrick’s eyes are opened to a new sense of responsibility, and the realization that, sometimes, even being larger than life means you’re unfailingly human.
The project will be overseen at Lionsgate by James Myers and Scott O’Brien. Rowley is repped by CAA and Rob Weisbach Creative Management.
Burr recently produced Disney’s Cruella and is a producer on Lionsgate’s upcoming The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, starring Nicolas Cage. Her projects in development include an adaptation of the novel The Kiss Quotient. She also produced Dora and the Lost City of Gold and Christopher Robin.