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There are so many times in our lives when we put aside something we’d like to do because "life gets in the way," never thinking that perhaps death could also get in the way. This revelation definitely occurred to former Miami high school teacher David Menasche, whose recent memoir The Priority List: A Teacher’s Final Quest to Discover Life’s Greatest Lessons was acquired by Warner Bros. and already has the leading man on board as Steve Carell is attached to star as well as produce via his shingle Carousel Productions. While the background subject matter may be dark and slightly depressing, the film itself should utilize Carell’s more natural acting talents accordingly.
The book, which was published through Touchstone Books in January, chronicles a unique cross-country trip that Menasche took in late 2012 through early 2013. Back in 2006, he was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer due to a large brain tumor, and was given only a few months to live. After multiple surgeries and years of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Menasche not only survived but was able to return to teaching for a short time until a vision-hampering seizure made his career impossible to continue.
So he decided to reconnect with those he’d met and taught during his 15 years at Coral Reef Senior High, communicating with many of them via Facebook and other social media. It culminated in the trip that the book chronicles, which took him out of Miami and on a 101-day road trip across 8,000 miles and 31 cities, where he visited over 70 of his former students. It was a trip that was meant to both reconnect him to those he’d inspired, and to see just how important that inspiration was so many years down the line, as well as trying to find that legendary deeper meaning of life that we all yearn for in our day to day existence.
THR reports this is the first move for Warner’s Andy Fischel, who was promoted to VP of creative development last month, and this could very well be his first big hit. A story as heartfelt as this is sure to be a critical darling, and Carell films, with the exception of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, tend to earn well against their budgets.
Most recently coming off a urn as Brick Tamland in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Carell will soon be seen in another all ages book adaptation for Miquel Arteta’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, followed by a darker performance as murderer John du Pont in Bennett Miller’s drama Foxcatcher. And then of course, there’s Minions.
For a better idea of who Menasche is, take a look at the video below, in which he explains his trials and motivations in bringing his book to life.