101 Studios Nabs Rights to True Story of Paradise Fire Tragedy

“Secretariat” producer Mark Ciardi will produce the film based on Bill Plaschke’s non-fiction book, “Paradise Found”

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

101 Studios has acquired the film and TV rights to “Paradise Found,” a non-fiction book written by Bill Plaschke about a group of survivors caught in the 2018 fire that ravaged Paradise, California, the studio announced Tuesday.

The book is the story of a high school football team and coach, Rich Prinz, who were caught in the blaze of the Camp Fire from last year and who then came together to help others in the community.

“Paradise Found” will be produced as a film by Mark Ciardi of Select Films and executive produced by 101’s David Glasser, David Hutkin and Bob Yari. Plaschke will also serve as a consultant on the film.

On Nov. 8, 2018, Prinz sent a text message to his football team saying, “the plan is to practice at 3:00 today. If it is too smoky, we will modify our activity. I will keep you informed if anything changes.” Eleven minutes later, they were running for their lives.

“These young men had faced the reality of death. They had lost everything, their possessions, their homes, their town. They were living with relatives, in hotels, trailers, and cars. Some were homeless,” Prinz said in a statement. “I could see the anguish and despair in their eyes. We didn’t have a school, we didn’t have a practice field, we didn’t have cleats, we didn’t even have a football. But we had each other.”

“Imagine a small-town-football-team story that begins with no town and no team. The rebirth of the Paradise High Bobcats in the wake of a fire that decimated their small mountain village is a tale of 39 displaced kids and their coaches fighting together to overcome tragedy, forge a family, dominate a season, and bond a broken community,” Plashcke continued.

“When they began spring practice, they didn’t even have a football. When they ended their incredible season, they owned the love of a nation. Uplifting and heartbreaking and ultimately triumphant, the 2019 Paradise Bobcats wrote a comeback story for the ages.”

“The Camp Fire in Paradise, California last year completely devastated the homes and lives of the people who lived there but we are honored to shine a light on the inspirational reporting and storytelling by Bill Plaschke of this remarkable community, and high school football team, rebuilding their lives,” Glasser said in a statement.

“I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a story with this much emotion in it. Nearly all of the players lost their homes. For these boys, football and each other, was all they had,” Ciardi added. “To have Bill Plaschke embedded within this community, and telling this story is a gift. No one is better.”

Ron Howard’s documentary about the Camp Fire that hit Paradise, titled “Rebuilding Paradise,” will make its debut at the Sundance Film Festival early next year.

Ciardi is the producer of several sports films including “The Rookie,” “Miracle,” “Invincible,” “The Game Plan,” “Secretariat” and “Million Dollar Arm,” having recently finished an overall first look deal with Disney that lasted 12 years.

The deal was negotiated by Glasser and James Allen and represented by Leif Cervantes de Reinstein of Sheppard Mullin. Mauro DiPreta at William Morrow represented by Susan Canavan and Ashley Lopez of Waxman Literary Agency.