Rich Cohen Nonfiction Book ‘The Fish That Ate the Whale’ Lands at Passage Pictures

Uri Singer’s Passage Pictures has acquired the rights to the Rich Cohen nonfiction book The Fish that Ate the Whale about America’s “banana king” and the implications that his reign had on multiple Latin American countries.

Cohen’s book, which was published in 2013 via Macmillan imprint Picador, tells the story of Samuel Zemurray who, according to the book’s synopsis, “rises through the banana trade to become America’s Banana King and the president of United Fruit. As a businessman and power broker, Zemurray’s story led to the origin of the phrase ‘Banana Republic’ and influenced the political future of several Latin American countries, including working with the CIA to lead the 1954 coup in Guatemala.”

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Passage previously worked on an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s White Noise, directed by Noah Baumbach for Netflix. Singer is also set to produce the DeLillo adaptation Underworld, with Ted Melfi attached the direct for Netflix. The plan is to adapt The Fish that Ate the Whale as a limited series.

“My sons first told me about the story of the 1954 coup in Guatemala and the banana king behind it,” said Singer in a statement. “Especially after hearing their interest and seeing the way young people were responding to this untold history — they showed me a Youtube video on the topic with 700,000 views — I knew this was an incredible true story that needed to be seen on the screen. Rich’s book turns Zemurray’s life into a thoroughly entertaining and fundamentally American story that is perfect for adaptation.”

Cohen, who most recently released 2023’s When the Game Was a War, about the 1987 NBA season, is repped by CAA and by Todd Rubenstein at Yorn Levine. Singer is repped by Knol Hanly P.C.

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