What was on Hollywood's reading pile last week? A buried treasure that bypassed Tom Cruise, an uncorked novel from Sideways author Rex Picket. Plus, a new Bad Girl in town?

Sometimes even Tom Cruise has to wait to get what he wants. The actor-producer and his longtime partner Paula Wagner bid with Paramount for the rights to film author Michael Stadther's self-published kids' book A Treasure Trove—but their offer was refused. In A Treasure Trove, readers are led on a real-life treasure hunt for 12 tokens hidden across the country (Each token can be redeemed for a piece of one-of-a-kind jewelry; total worth: $1 million.) Paramount was far from the only interested party, and once word got out that the Firm's Alan Nevins had serious interest in the title, it wasn't exactly easy for producers to get their hands on the book, which has been almost completely sold out of L.A. and New York bookstores for weeks. Still, interest is high and some enthusiastic execs say the movie—when the rights are finally sold—could start a Potter-sized franchise.

You could call it a lateral move. When a first novel is made into a film that scoops up five Academy Award nominations and two Golden Globes, it's inevitable that the author's followup will shoot to the top of every scout's hot list. So when rumor spread that Rex Pickett, the author of Sideways, had delivered a brief summary of his new novel, The Road Back, it didn't take long for scouts to wrest it out of his option publisher, St. Martin's. But the story—another road trip, this time about a son driving his ailing mother cross-country and based on an old screenplay the author wrote—has received a chilly reception from some scouts. One New York scout who read it and is not recommending it to clients asked, "Didn't we just see this movie?" Perhaps, but isn't it a little premature to dismiss something based on a two-page synopsis? Sideways didn't attract much film interest until book-friendly director Alexander Payne (who also co-adapted Tom Perotta's Election and Louis Begley's About Schmidt) sparked to it. Sometimes manuscripts, like good wines, just need time to breathe.

By now, every aspiring writer knows that blogging can land you a book deal faster than two years at Iowa. But that doesn't necessarily translate to film. This week, 30-something blogger Jen Lancaster, a former dot-com high-flyer who squandered her six-figure salary on nothing important, has just sold her succinctly titled memoir, Bitter Is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal Smartass, or Why You Should Never Carry a Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office, to NAL for a tentative spring 2006 pub date. But film execs who've seen the proposal say it may be too similar in tone to UPN's upcoming Jenny McCarthy sitcom, The Bad Girl's Guide (which, considering McCarthy's 0 for 6 pilot track record, may not be such a good thing).

Briefs... One of the week's Hot Deals (click here to read the article) was WMA's Suzanne Gluck's sale to Holt of Jeremy Blachman's Anonymouslawyer.com, a dark, unsparing look at life inside a high-powered law firm. But the verdict among the filmies is a little different: good read, tough movie, they say. And then there's Amber Frey, convicted murderer Scott Peterson's onetime girlfriend and the author of the tell-all Witness: For the Prosecution of Scott Peterson. No sooner had her Regan Books title appeared than Frey's attorney, Gloria Allred, took it out to market. First stop: CBS, which scooped it up. Braun Entertainment will produce. Patricia Arquette as Amber?