Focus Features is developing the 1969-set true story Taking Woodstock as the next project for Academy Award winner Ang Lee to direct. Focus Features CEO James Schamus confirmed the comedy’s active development today.
Mr. Schamus is writing the screenplay, which is an adaptation of Elliot Tiber’s memoir Taking Woodstock: A True Story of a Riot, A Concert, and A Life. The book, published last year by Square One Publishers, was written by Mr. Tiber with Tom Monte.
Mr. Tiber played an unexpected but pivotal role in making the 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Festival into the famed happening it was. Working as an interior designer in Greenwich Village during culturally and politically exciting times, Mr. Tiber felt empowered by the gay-rights movement. But he was also still staked to the family business – a Catskills motel. As its part-time manager, he had become the local town’s issuer of event permits, granting himself one annually for a small music festival. When he heard that the planned Woodstock concert had had its own permit denied by a neighboring town, he called to offer his own. Soon half a million people were on their way to Mr. Tiber’s neighbor’s farm in White Lake, New York, and Mr. Tiber found himself swept up in a generation-defining experience that would change his life, and American culture, forever.
Mr. Schamus commented, “Elliot’s exuberant and heartfelt story is a perfect window onto the Woodstock experience, exploring an inspiring historical moment when liberation and freedom were in the air.”
Mr. Tiber has written and produced numerous award-winning plays and musical comedies for the theater, television, and film. As a professor of comedy writing and performance, he has taught at the New School University and Hunter College in New York City. His first novel Rue Haute, was an instant bestseller in Europe, and was published in the U.S. under the title High Street.
Mr. Monte has written more than thirty books and hundreds of articles for such publications as Life, The Saturday Evening Post, and The Chicago Tribune. Among his many works are The Way of Hope, about the AIDS crisis in New York City; and Recalled by Life, which he co-authored with Dr. Anthony Sattilaro.