Laurie David And Katie Couric to Executive Produce Documentary “The Big Picture”
Atlas Films announced today the start of production for The Big Picture, a feature-length documentary that examines the causes and impact of the childhood obesity epidemic. Executive producers include award-winning journalist, cancer advocate, and bestselling author Katie Couric; author, producer, and environmental advocate Laurie David (Oscar winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth); and Atlas founders Michael and Michelle Walrath. Sarah Olson will serve as a producer. Stephanie Soechtig (award-winning documentary Tapped) will produce and direct the project.
The Big Picture will follow the evolution of the obesity epidemic and what it reveals about the practices of the food industry, the government, and how we consume food. A group of children will provide additional narration though personal video diaries, sharing their own stories of living with obesity.
The Big Picture examines how American children are suffering, in dangerously high numbers, from obesity and related health problems like Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart conditions. The film will also look at the epidemic’s financial toll on our economy. The direct medical cost of obesity to the U.S economy is $168 billion annually, and is expected to rise to $344 billion by 2018. The film will include tangible solutions to empower the audience to make immediate and life-altering changes to take back control of their health.
“I’ve been reporting about childhood obesity for years now,” says executive producer Katie Couric, “but despite increased attention, the problem has only gotten worse. This documentary will be a thorough examination of why it’s so out of control and what we can do to change things for future generations.
“The true tragedy of the childhood obesity epidemic is that this condition is entirely preventable,” says producer and director Stephanie Soechtig. “Children are really just victims of a food system run amuck. Even if you’ve never struggled with your weight, anyone who eats will want to see this film. You’ll be absolutely blown away by the things we discovered when we pulled back the curtain on the food we eat and the system that controls it.”
Executive producer Laurie David adds, “Not since An Inconvenient Truth have I been so moved by an issue as I am by the heartbreaking epidemic of childhood obesity. One in three American kids is considered overweight or obese. All issues cross the dinner plate; the quality of the food our kids are eating is downright criminal and our health statistics support that. We need a film that tells the truth and empowers the consumer to protect their children.
THE BIG PICTURE: PRODUCTION BIOS
Stephanie began her career twelve years ago producing documentaries for 20/20 and Primetime Live. She covered the 2000 presidential elections for Good Morning America and worked with ABC’s long-form unit to produce Planet Earth hosted by Leonardo DiCaprio. She then brought her documentary skills to Fox where she produced network specials for Bill O’Reilly before moving on to produce his daily show, The O’Reilly Factor. Stephanie graduated cum laude, from NYU, with a degree in Journalism where she also minored in Cinema Studies. Stephanie joined forces with Michael and Michelle Walrath in 2008 to start Atlas Films with the goal of creating films that educate and inspire.
MICHELLE AND MICHAEL WALRATH
Michelle and Michael Walrath co-founded Atlas Films in 2008 with Atlas President Stephanie Soechtig. Michelle is executive director of the Walrath Family Foundation and a member of the board of directors of Grassroots Environmental Education. The Walrath Family Foundation is deeply committed to issues related to the environment, environmental health, gender violence and genocide.
Michael Walrath was the founder and CEO of Right Media Inc. (acquired by Yahoo in 2007). Michael is also a co-founder and managing partner of WGI Group, a private equity firm in New York City. WGI has investments in dozens of digital media and Internet companies. Michael is a co-founder and chairman of Moat Inc., Fantuition.com and Yext Inc. Michael and Michelle live in Long Island with their four children.
Laurie David works on a variety of environmental, food and agricultural issues. Her most recent book, The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time, is an inspirational, practical and green guide to the vital family dinner ritual and how to accomplish it in today’s busy world. Laurie was a producer of the 2006 Academy Award winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, executive produced the HBO documentary Too Hot NOT to Handle, and the TBS comedy special Earth to America! She also authored the bestselling book Stop Global Warming: The Solution is You! and co-authored The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming, which has been published in over eight languages.
Laurie has received numerous awards and honors, including the Producers Guild of America’s Stanley Kramer Award, a Humanitas Prize Special Award and a Gracie Allen Award. Laurie has been honored with the Audubon Society’s Rachel Carson Award, the Feminist Majority’s Eleanor Roosevelt Award and the NRDC Forces for Nature award. Laurie, a regular blogger on the Huffington Post, has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, The Today Show, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. She was named a 2006 Glamour Woman of the Year and has been profiled in People, Glamour, Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, Vogue, Rolling Stone, Elle, Wired, House & Garden, The New York Times and Vanity Fair.
Katie Couric is an award-winning journalist and TV personality, well-known cancer advocate, and New York Times best-selling author of The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons From Extraordinary Lives and two children’s books, The Blue Ribbon Day and The Brand New Kid. Beginning in September 2012, she will host a new syndicated daytime daily talk show, Katie. Couric joined the Disney/ABC Television Group in summer 2011 and serves as special correspondent for ABC News, contributing to ABC World News, Nightline, 20/20, Good Morning America, This Week, and primetime news specials.
In September 2006, Couric joined CBS News and became the first female solo anchor of an evening news broadcast. On May 31, 2006, Couric completed a 15-year run as co-anchor of NBC News’ Today Show. Couric is a co-founder of Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), co-founder of the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance (NCCRA) with the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) and Lilly Tartikoff, and co-founder of the Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health. Born in Arlington, VA, Couric graduated with honors from the University of Virginia. She lives in New York with her two daughters.
Sarah Olson has been developing, producing, and managing documentary projects for television and film for the last ten years. Her work has aired on The Discovery Channel, The Travel Channel, and TLC. Sarah came to Atlas Films more than 3 years ago to work as the Line Producer on the award-winning documentary, Tapped. She expanded her role and tackled the role the emerging trend of self-distribution and ultimately social media outreach; Olson was the driving force in leading Tapped on a groundbreaking grass-roots tour to reach the masses.
Now, Sarah has taken on the role of Vice President of Development in growing Atlas Films viral films branch, as well as paving the way for the company’s next documentary feature. She has produced viral films for the Environmental Working Group, Food and Water Watch, and the Neuro-Immune Dysfunction Syndrome Coalition.
Prior to producing and managing for film and television, Sarah worked for UNICEF under the guidance of the United Nations. In addition, she currently works with FEMA in US disaster relief efforts.