In some of our most desperate waking moments, we’ve all praised Starbucks’ life-giving powers—that overpriced Tiramisu Latte that kept us conscious during our dry morning meeting, that Teavana Oprah Chai Tea that convinced us to leave our corporate shells behind and pursue our best lives, that Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino Blended Beverage that kept us focused during our afternoon bank-robbing spree, that straight liquid-chocolate thing that we chugged to keep us cheerful before surrendering to police. But Michael Gates Gill genuinely believes that Starbucks, the entity, is responsible for saving his life. He says it right there in the title of his 2007 memoir, How Starbucks Saved My Life, which the Weinstein Company picked up the rights to in 2013 and which, as of today, will be directed by Ned Benson.
The Tracking Board bills the adaptation as a “riches-to-rags story,” and its source material does sound very fable-y: According to a 2009 CNN story, back in the early aughts, Gill was a 60-something, Yale-educated, “high-flying, six-figure-earning advertising exec” who created campaigns for the likes of Dior and Ford and “lived an even bigger life, with luxury automobiles, lavish vacations, and fabulous clothes.” But one day, he was fired for “making too much money,” and soon found himself destitute, divorced, and diagnosed with a (slow-growing, operable) brain tumor to boot. One morning, as he sat in a Starbucks, a manager approached him and asked if he’d like a job. Gill said yes “without thinking,” which is understandable, as that is how almost everyone responds when somebody asks them a question inside Starbucks.
Gill now says accepting the position was the best thing that ever happened to him, imbuing him with a sense of perspective and a new appreciation for the smaller, sweeter things in life, like a Tall Teavana Shaken Iced Passion Tango Tea Lemonade. These days, he takes great pride in “making toilets shine like Ferraris” and cooking up crazy-fun riffs on coffee for the deeply tired American workforce. Oh, and traveling around the country giving inspirational talks based on his best-selling memoir, which will soon become a movie.
The Weinsteins’ adaptation of How Starbucks Saved My Life has been in the works since 2013, though Universal originally picked up the rights in 2006, with Gus Van Sant attached to direct and Tom Hanks set to star. The current iteration has no star yet, but does have a script penned by Benson, who’s also working on an adaptation of Steve Martin’s 2010 book An Object of Beauty and who wrote and directed last year’s The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby, a movie about a woman who similarly flees her familiar life and finds solace at the bottom of a Very Berry Hibiscus Starbucks Refreshers Beverage.