Pioneer Woman: Home on the range (and the silver screen)
I stumbled across the thepioneerwoman.com blog about two years ago. I was looking for old soapmaking tricks. I went to google, and used the words “pioneer ways” in my search. PW didn’t post about soap, but I became enthralled by her real-life soap opera, the life she writes about on her blog and the life she chronicles in excerpts from her soon-to-be-released book, “From Black Heels to Tractor Wheels.”
I was drawn in, never to part. The recipes, the humor, the photos, the romance… I was smitten. Only after a few months of obsessive reading did I realize, ‘Wait a second, is her last name Drummond?’ … ‘Wait, a second, is that the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in her photos?’ … ‘Wait a second, that’s OSAGE COUNTY!’
I spilled the not-so-secret secret to the women at work and we all stood amazed. Wow. That Internet celebri-blogger lives just a few miles away. We should totally stalk her. (kidding. Um, sortofbutnotreally.)
As Oklahomans, we, like any other state-dwellers, are incredibly proud people. Any time anyone from our neck of the woods has any kind of success, we all feel it in unison. Like in a maniacal way. After it leaked Ree was indeed a native Oklahoman, we all started saying to each other, “…our girl, Ree,” like she was a distant cousin or something.
We applauded. We beamed. We broke out into a chorus of “Oklahoma!”
We read and re-read her biographical sketch… Ree, a 1987 graduate of Bartlesville High School, left Oklahoma for the University of Southern California, and when she returned to her home state after graduation, she met another lifelong Oklahoman. Ladd Drummond, ranching heir, swept her off her feet and convinced her to live the rural life forever.
So we beamed some more. Then came the really, really big news:
As made public late last week, the love story of Ladd and Ree (aka Marlboro Man and Pioneer Woman) is in development by Columbia Pictures, and is set to release in 2012. The sale of the movie rights was confirmed by Ree via Twitter and Facebook when she wrote, “Confirmed: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels (the book, not the blog) was optioned by Sony/Columbia Pictures. Think Green Acres meets Harlequin Romance meets Forest Gump. My only demand was that my brother Mike play himself! I’m still waiting to hear back on that one…”
IMBD lists none other than the legendary Laura Ziskin as executive producer of the project. If the name doesn’t sound familiar to you, maybe these films, all of which she produced, will: Pretty Woman, Murphy’s Romance, As Good As It Gets, Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3… the list is forever long, but you get the idea.
(Ziskin is also one of the founders of SU2C, Stand Up to Cancer, along with Katie Couric and others.)
Ziskin? Think that’s star power? I mean, a Hollywood producer who formed a production company with an Oscar winner (Sally Field) and directed Oscar winners (Jack Nicholson, Nicole Kidman, Helen Hunt)?
Try adding another Oscar winner into the mix: Reese Witherspoon. Yep, the screenplay is being adapted now, and it has been confirmed the role is being catered to Witherspoon.
My adoration for The Pioneer Woman is well documented here. My love for Reese Witherspoon is well documented by the 19,473 times I saw Man in the Moon, Pleasantville and Walk the Line. Each. So please excuse me while I squeal for a few hours. (I also think Lauren Graham would be a good second choice. Not as much fame, but the personality is perfect.)
Let’s get one thing straight: This movie won’t be another “Christmas in Connecticut.” (You know, the Barbara Stanwyck movie where a food writer pens newspaper columns about her “real” farm life, that of a dutiful wife and mother, but in reality she is a single New Yorker who steals recipes from her friend?)
Drummond Ranch, which is about 25 minutes from my home, IS real. Complete with 120,000-plus acres, thousands of head of cattle, thousands of government-protected wild mustangs, cattle hands, beautiful homes and a long ranching, banking, lawyering history – is all very real and deeply entrenched in our state’s history.
The Drummonds are Oklahoma royalty, and collectively, the family is the largest landowner in the state, edging media mogul Ted Turner and energy magnate Aubrey McClendon. The Drummonds may be wealthy land barons, but they are also true land conservationists. They take great pride in caring for soil and grasses that once belonged to the Osage tribe. They seem to have a reverence for their family’s historical significance, and they haven’t lost sight of the work ethic instilled in them by the family patriarch, Fred Drummond. This article about Fred’s grandson Frederick — MM’s grandfather, who has been dubbed by many “The Intellectual Cowboy,” — shines a light on the family legacy.
Here’s to hoping that legacy stretches to include another movie filmed in our great state. Ree has done a lot to bring attention to her homeland, but the filming could go a long way in bringing it revenue. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if scenes were shot at the Drummond Homestead, which is now a museum? What about scenes of Marlboro Man and Pesky Tim being tailed by Charlie the basset hound as they roam the land, driving cattle past the family cemetery?
I must admit, of the real-life cast Ree blogs about, I do have a penchant for Cowboy Josh. Yes, me and a million other women my age. So I don’t have a shot with him, but maybe… just maybe… if the film shoots scenes under the Osage County stars, Witherspoon will run into Cowboy Josh and decide to give up on Tinsel Town goons forever. I could definitely live with that. I’d totally be jealous. But I’d live. Maybe.
And, really, if I must, I’ll drop my super busy life to play a waitress at the bar where Marlboro Man and the Pioneer Woman meet. If I have to. Just an idea. If it helps, and if there is an agent reading this, I have perfected my Golden Globes acceptance speech. Oh, and I can cry on cue. No joke. Except sometimes it takes a prompt like this from a police officer: “Ma’am, do you know how fast you were going?”
On her blog, Ree says she channels Lucille Ball, but make no bones about it, Ree Drummond is one little redhead who isn’t quite so little anymore. Oklahoma is proud of its girl, and proud to share her with the Internet, and now, Hollywood.
But like before, let’s hope she remains fond of the trail back home.