Reese Witherspoon is set to produce and possible star in “Barbie and Ruth,” which follows Ruth Handler, the creator of the beloved doll that has brought joy to generations of children.
Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea will produce under their Pacific Standard banner along with Bold Films, which will also finance the project. The two companies optioned the rights to Robin Gerber’s book “Barbie and Ruth: The Story of the World’s Most Famous Doll and the Woman Who Created Her.”
Bold Films’ chairman Michel Litvak will produce the movie, which will be developed as a potential starring vehicle for Witherspoon. Bold Films CEO Gary Michael Walters and Jon Oakes will executive produce alongside Gerber and Grace Ledding. Oakes will oversee the film for Bold Films, and Papandrea will oversee for Pacific Standard.
“Ruth Handler’s inspiring true story reveals the triumphs and struggles of the genius businesswoman behind the creation of Barbie, the most iconic doll in the world,” said Litvak.
“We are thrilled to be in business with Reese and Bruna. They are truly extraordinary producers who are perfect to bring this exceptional story to the screen,” added Walters.
First published in 2010, the book details the remarkable true story of the world’s most famous toy and the woman who created her, Ruth Handler, who was inspired to create the now-famous Barbie doll after seeing her daughter, Barbara, playing with paper dolls modeled after infants. Wanting her daughter to aspire to be a woman with choices, Handler found an adult novelty toy abroad and modified it to work as a toy for children, along with a separate line of accessories, which she then manufactured with her husband via their company, Mattel. The original Barbie premiered at the American International Toy Fair in 1959.
A regular contributor to USA Today, Gerber is the author of several books in addition to “Barbie and Ruth,” including “Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way,” “Katharine Graham” and “Eleanor vs. Ike.” A senior scholar at the Academy of Leadership at the University of Maryland, Gerber has trained women in leadership organizations, including the Democratic National Committee, the United Nations and the State of New York, for more than 20 years.
Bold Films’ Karen Barna handled the negotiations for Bold Films. Gretchen Rush and Barry Littman of Hansen, Jacobson handled negotiations on behalf of Witherspoon, while Steve Hutensky handled negotiations on behalf of Papandrea.