Brooke Shields To Star In Movie Based On New London Eminent Domain Case
BY: Susanne Dunne
"Little Pink House: A True Story of Defiance and Courage," a book written in 2009 by Jeff Benedict about the Fort Trumbull eminent domain decision in New London, is being made into a Lifetime TV movie starring Brooke Shields as the decision's most prominent opponent, Susette Kelo, according to an announcement made Friday on the author's blog, http://www.jeffbenedict.com.
Rick Woolf, Benedict's editor at Grand Central Publishing, confirmed the report. "We're thrilled that this is going to be a movie on Lifetime," Woolf said. "Susette is a folk hero and Jeff has done a tremendous job telling the story."
Lifetime has not yet released information about the film project.
Kelo, a nurse, was the last holdout when the city tried to get homeowners in the Fort Trumbull area to leave their properties in order to turn about 95 acres over to Pfizer, Inc., which would build a large facility and pay the city more in property taxes than the homeowners did.
The United States Supreme Court, in 2005, decided 5-4 in Kelo v. New London that the city could take the properties. Kelo eventually made a deal. Her house was sold and moved to another location.
Benedict, a former Connecticut resident who now lives in Virginia and teaches writing at Southern Virginia University, said in a phone interview on Monday that he started thinking about the story's possibilities as a movie even before the book was written.
"The first time I visited the Fort Trumbull neighborhood was after the Supreme Court issued its decision. Many of the houses had been knocked down. I actually felt the hair stand up on my arms as I walked around that neighborhood," he said. "This story hits home with anyone who ever owned property or had a house.
"The conflict was so raw," he said. "There's nothing like a local fight that becomes a federal case."
Benedict said he especially appreciates the story's "O. Henry" ending. (In the surprising aftermath of the case, Pfizer merged with Wyeth and vacated its Fort Trumbull location.)
"It's been years and nothing has been built in the neighborhood. It's a 90-acre swath of nothingness," he said. "But there has been a movement triggered across the country to turn back these eminent domain laws because of that decision."