New York Company Planning TV Series
Based on Local Author’s Oak Ridge Book
A Manhattan production company has optioned dramatic rights to Jay Searcy’s Oak Ridge book, The Last Reunion, with intentions of developing a television series. The company also optioned rights to Searcy’s Philadelphia Inquirer magazine story, “My Nuclear Childhood, which was the inspiration for the book.
Plans are to develop a pilot script for TV that will be offered to the major networks and to cable companies such as Home Box Office and Showtime. The option sale was negotiated by Sean Daily at Hotchkiss and Associates on behalf of Searcy.The Manhattan company that bought option to the book also optioned the rights to Searcy’s life story as it applies to the book.
Searcy wrote for five newspapers during a 44-year career in sports writing, starting at The Oak Ridger as a teenager. His other papers were The Kingsport Times-News, The Chattanooga Times, The New York Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer, where he was executive sports editor.
He was among the 11,000 children who lived in Oak Ridge during the secret years of World II while the atomic bomb was being developed. Both of his parents worked in the secret plants. His father lost his life there. His mother lost her health there.
In The Last Reunion, Searcy tells about the lifestyle in the secret city that attracted people from every state – 75,000 of them – all surrounded by fences and government agents and protected by the Army. Its code name was Site X, so secret hardly anyone outside the fences knew about it — not Governor Prentice Cooper, not Vice President Harry Truman, not even Congress. (For more about the book, go to jaysearcy.com.)
Searcy, 78, now lives in Loudon’s Tellico Village. He wrote the book there in retirement after collecting Oak Ridge stories most of his adult life.
“I am amazed that a major feature film or TV series hasn’t already been done about Oak Ridge,” he said. “It was the most significant story of the 20th Century and the most unusual town in world history. If this option fails to produce a pilot episode and TV series, someday, somewhere, someone will do it.”
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New Book Portrays Life Inside Secret City
Among Spies in a Military Dictatorship
“The Last Reunion,” by Jay Searcy, is a nostalgic account of growing
up in a hidden town that miraculously pulled off the greatest scientific
feat in history, the making of the atomic bomb
OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – Jay Searcy, author of the “The Last Reunion,” (ISBN 0692012338), grew up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the secret headquarters for the Manhattan Project in World War II. He was one of 11,000 children from all over America who were thrown together during the war while their parents worked secretly around the clock, not knowing that they were creating the most devastating weapon in history and ushering in the Atomic Age.
Today those children are in their mid-70s, the last living generation to have witnessed the Oak Ridge miracle. “The Last Reunion” is about those days and about the thousands upon thousands of patriotic Americans who joined hands as strangers and worked in a near classless society under military rule.
They lived inside fences guarded by machine gun emplacements, mounted sentries, gun boats, plant guards, city and military police and they were spied on by the FBI, Military Intelligence, the Secret Service and their neighbors. Official documents were falsified for security reasons, Searcy writes, and top physicists used code names.
Oak Ridge and its nuclear plants were purposely hidden in remote, hilly farmland of East Tennessee, so secret and heavily protected the governor of the state wasn’t aware of it until it had become the fifth largest city in the state. In 30 months the new town, code named Site X, grew from zero population to 75,000 with people from every state and 17 countries. They lived and worked under government orders and a bullying Army general, Leslie Groves, a virtual dictator who headed the Manhattan Project.
Searcy combines historical fact with stories of his classmates from the Oak Ridge High Class of 1952 to provide a coming-of-age account that so was strikingly differently from that of other Americans, yet could have happened only in the United States. Nowhere in history has there been a town quite like it.
Searcy includes previously unpublished conversations with Dr. Alvin Weinberg, the noted Oak Ridge physicist who revealed that Germany would have had the atomic bomb first had it not been for a calculating error by top German nuclear physicists. Searcy tells of John Rice Irwin, founder of the Museum of Appalachia, whose folks were among a thousand or so families forced off their farms by the War Department’s takeover in 1942 when he was 12.
“The Last Reunion: The Class of 1952 comes Home to the Secret City” is available online at Amazon.com and other channels.
About the Author: Jay Searcy, a journalist for more than four decades, first wrote for his local paper, The Oak Ridger, when he was in high school. That started a national award-winning writing career that took him to The Kingsport Times-News, The Chattanooga Times, The New York Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer, where he was executive sports editor. He was named Tennessee sportswriter of the year twice and is a member of the Chattanooga, Oak Ridge and Tennessee Sportswriters’ halls of fame. Searcy is retired and lives near Oak Ridge in Loudon, Tenn.
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