Deadline article by Peter White, November 13, 2019
Judy & Liza & Robert & Freddie & David & Sue & Me, the memoir written by Judy Garland’s manager and female power agent Stevie Phillips, is being adapted into a ‘Mad Men’-style television series.
Athena Pictures, the new banner set up by Andra Gordon and Sarena Khan, and American Entertainment Investors, which has backed feature films including Hotel Mumbai, are developing the project.
Stevie, written by Gordon, who worked on Tatiana Maslany-fronted feature The Other Half, will tell the story of Phillips’ rise from secretary to tour manager to agent to producer in a pre-MeToo era.
Having started as a secretary, working for MCA’s Freddie Fields and David Begelman, under the glare of Lew Wasserman, she moved with the pair to Creative Management Associates, where she became Judy Garland’s “shadow”. Phillips went on to manage Garland’s daughter Liza Minnelli as well as Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Henry Fonda, George Roy Hill, Bob Fosse, Cat Stevens, and David Bowie. Sue Mengers, who worked with Stevie at CMA, will also be featured.
The series is being exec produced by Gordon and Khan and Zak Kilberg of Social Construct Films as well as Scott Winant, the Good Girls Revolt and Californication exec producer who won an Emmy for his work on Thirtysomething. Winant will direct the pilot episode. Jon Levin of Fourward produces and Phillips will be a consulting producer.
Gordon said, “Stevie is a true inspiration who paved the way for women in the entertainment industry. She is an unapologetic, strategic force of nature who in her own words ‘learned to play her cards close to her chest and never fold.’ I’m honored to be able to tell her story, which reflects many other women’s stories coming up in the business, including my own.”
Winant added, “I’m thrilled to be a part of this compelling project that brings to light the life of an extraordinary woman. Stevie Phillips broke gender barriers and became a true pioneer in the industry. I’m especially excited to collaborate with Andra and Sarena, who represent the next generation of female powerhouses.”
Winant is represented by UTA and Fourward. Athena Pictures is represented by CAA. Elsa Ramo of Ramo Law PC and Chris Matson of SmithDehn LLP negotiated the book deal.