Octavia Spencer
Octavia Spencer

That’s Wonderful Productions announced today that Octavia Spencer will join Jim Parsons and Claire Danes in the drama “A Kid Like Jake.” Priyanka Chopra, Ann Dowd and Michaela Watkins are in negotiations to join the film as well.

Based on Daniel Pearle’s celebrated Lincoln Center play, “A Kid Like Jake” was adapted for the big screen by Daniel Pearle and will be directed by Silas Howard.

The story: On the eve of the admissions cycle for New York City kindergartens, Alex (Danes) and Greg Wheeler (Parsons) have high hopes for their son Jake, a bright and precocious four-year-old who happens to prefer Cinderella to GI Joe. Aware they can’t afford private school tuition, Judy (Spencer), the director of Jake’s preschool, encourages them to accentuate Jake’s ‘gender variant’ expression to help him stand out and try and get a scholarship. As Alex and Greg navigate their roles as parents, a rift grows between them, one that forces them to confront their own concerns about what’s best for Jake, and each other. Priyanka Chopra will portray “Amal,” their friend and a newly single mom who is also trying to navigate the school system, as well as her own dating world; Ann Dowd will portray “Catherine,” Alex’s mother; and Michaela Watkins will portray “Sandra,” Greg’s patient.

Jim Parsons, Todd Spiewak and Eric Norsoph will produce for That’s Wonderful Productions, alongside Paul Bernon for Burn Later and Rachel Song for XS Media.

Sam Slater, David Bernon and Jackie Bernon will executive produce for Burn Later alongside Jenette Kahn and Adam Richman for Double Nickel Entertainment, Hilary Davis, Stephen Kelliher and Patrick Howson for Bankside Films, and Phil Hunt and Compton Ross for Head Gear Films.

Co-producers are Rowan Riley of Burn Later and Veronica Nickel. CAA, which arranged financing for the film, is handling domestic sales with Bankside Films handling foreign. Film will shoot this summer in New York.

“We live in a world that cherishes a child’s uniqueness while paradoxically punishing difference,” said director Silas Howard. “I’m interested in the ways that, even when acting out of love, people can do harm when confronted with the fear of the uncontrollable. How does a parent balance those intense pressures? These tensions fascinate me both as a filmmaker and as someone with intimate knowledge of our culture’s fixation on policing gender.”

Star and producer Jim Parsons added, “That’s Wonderful Productions was founded to tell stories just like this one. From the moment we read Daniel Pearle’s beautiful play, A Kid Like Jake, we knew that this would be our first project for the big screen. To see it come together with this incredible cast, and such wonderful partners in Silas Howard, Paul Bernon at Burn Later, Double Nickel, Bankside Films and all of our partners, is a dream come true for us.”

Producer Paul Bernon of Burn Later chimed in with, “Jim, Todd and Eric at That’s Wonderful Productions have put together an amazing team on both sides of the camera and we are thrilled to be working with them to bring this film to fruition.”

Octavia Spencer can currently be seen on the big screen in “Gifted,” and most recently in “Hidden Figures,” for which she received her second Academy Award nomination, and “The Shack.” She is represented by WME and Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein.