Smart People is the darkly comic story of Lawrence Wetherhold, a widowed and unhappy English professor played by Dennis Quaid, who has alienated his son and turned his daughter into an overachieving, friendless teen. He falls for Janet (Sarah Jessica Parker), one of his former students, while at the same time his ne’er-do-well brother (Academy Award-nominee Thomas Haden Church) shows up at his door unexpectedly, triggering a series of comic crises and eventually growth in the family as they learn to reconnect.
Currently in post-production, the film marks the directorial debut of Noam Murro and also stars Ellen Page (Hard Candy) and Ashton Holmes (History of Violence). It is produced by Bridget Johnson and Michael Costigan along with Michael London and Bruna Papandrea from Groundswell. Novelist Mark Poirier wrote the screenplay.
The project was brought to Miramax by Keri Putnam, president of production and Kristin Jones, svp, production, international development & acquisitions. The Miramax sale is the first for London’s indie financing company Groundswell. Production president Bruna Papandrea brought the project to the company.
“We are thrilled to join forces with such a wonderful group of filmmakers on ‘Smart People,'” said Putnam. “Mark Poirier’s script, in the hands of director Noam Murro and this fantastic cast, offers characters in a story that surprises with an exciting and unusual combination of humanity and sharp wit.”
“Miramax is the perfect home for ‘Smart People’ and I’m thrilled that they saw the potential of the film at such an early stage,” remarked Groundswell CEO, Michael London. “It’s a great boost for Groundswell to have the Miramax team on board for what could be our first release.”
Groundswell was founded in February 2006 by London, whose credits include Sideways, The Illusionist, The Family Stone, and thirteen. The company is in post production on two other films: The Mysteries Of Pittsburgh, starring Sienna Miller, Peter Saarsgard, Nick Nolte, Jon Foster and Mena Suvari and Tom McCarthy’s The Visitor starring Richard Jenkins which it co-financed with Participant Productions.