'Little Pink House' could end up on the big screen

On the heels of the 10th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Kelo v. New London ruling comes some cinematic news related to the eminent domain drama in New London: "Little Pink House" looks like it might end up as a film after all.

After the Jeff Benedict book — which detailed the case and focused on homeowner Susette Kelo — was released in 2009, interest from movie producers and TV networks percolated.

Four years ago, it looked as though Lifetime was going to bring "Little Pink House" to life, with Brooke Shields starring. But, as is often the case in Hollywood, none of those resulted in an actual production.

Now, though, comes Korchula Productions. Producer Ted Balaker of Korchula just posted on Facebook that "the movie is fully funded and we're scheduled to begin filming this September!"

Casting is just starting — no choices to announce yet, Balaker and his wife and Korchula co-founder, Courtney Moorehead Balaker, said Tuesday. Courtney will direct "Little Pink House" from a script she wrote.

The shoot will be in Vancouver. The budget is under $5 million, and the plan is to give "Little Pink House" a theatrical release sometime next year.

"To me, it's long overdue for these people who lived in Fort Trumbull and lost their homes, lost their parents' homes," Benedict said. "From before I had a book contract, even when we were pitching this to publishing houses, I always thought this is a story that was made to be shown on a screen. So it's been a long time coming, but I think we're close."

Ted Balaker had always been intrigued with the New London eminent domain case and said he even remembers where he was when the Supreme Court decision came out.

Two years ago, someone from the Institute for Justice — Balaker had become familiar with the institute when he and Courtney worked at ABC News — brought to his attention the fact that the rights to "Little Pink House" were available.

The more the duo learned about the story, the more they fell in love with it. They travelled from California to Connecticut to meet Kelo, who was one of the homeowners who fought selling their houses to New London for redevelopment. They met Benedict, too.

"For me, this is like the third movie production company that I've worked with," Benedict said. "This is the first one that I felt like, from day one, that they would actually make the movie. Every step of the way so far has been a confirmation of that."

The Balakers founded Korchula Productions four years ago, with the goal "to make important ideas entertaining." They had previously produced for Dimension Films/The Weinstein Company, Universal Pictures, Drew Carey and PBS.

When discussing "Little Pink House" with people who don't know the story, the Balakers often reference "Erin Brockovich" — "that David and Goliath story where you see a strong woman at the center," Courtney said.

Of the filmmakers, Benedict said, "This is an issue they care a lot about. The scriptwriter, the producer, this is something that really matters to them. For them, they're not just making another movie."

As for the fact that Korchula could make the announcement that the project was moving forward around the 10th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld a state court's ruling in support of New London's use of eminent domain, Benedict said, "It's beautiful, actually. You can't plan this stuff ... It's great for these people who lived in Fort Trumbull. They haven't had a lot of great news since they first had notices tacked to their doors. Look, a movie doesn't make it all better. A book doesn't make it all better."

What those kinds of things do, though, is validate what was fought for, and they are permanent things that will outlive the author or the actors in the film, he said.



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