This week: Nicholas Sparks goes South (again), Tom Cruise finds the Reich stuff and a book editor takes his authors to the movies.
Nicholas Sparks, publishing's reigning king of sticky sentiment, stays true to form with his latest tale, True Believer, to be published by Warner Books in April and currently on submission from UTA's Howie Sanders. The novel stars a science writer who travels to (where else?) a small Southern town to investigate a religious miracle and instead discovers (what else?) true love. While the story might not be much of a departure for the megabestselling author, seasoned execs say that's not really the point. "You either want to be in the Nick Sparks business or you don't," said one scout. "You know if you option one of his books, there's a pretty good chance it'll get made." Indeed, Sparks has an impressive batting average getting his books to the screen. Of his eight published novels, three—The Notebook, Message in a Bottle and A Walk to Remember—have been turned into major studio movies.
A tale of two thrillers. Financial thrillers may be a notoriously tough sell in Hollywood, but Tom Cruise isn't one to let conventional wisdom stand in his way. Two months ago, the producer-star of Mission: Impossible and Vanilla Sky optioned Christopher Reich's bestselling novel The Devil's Banker. Apparently not content to own just one Reich bestseller, Cruise's company invested another six figures in the banker-cum-novelist, optioning his The Patriots' Club, due out from Delacorte in July. CAA's Brian Sibberell did the deal.
Studio readers are poring over Conspiracy of Fools, Kurt Eichenwald's 700-plus—page account of the Enron collapse. As PW reported (Book News, Feb. 7), Broadway Books is marketing the true-crime tale as a financial thriller. Those skeptical of the commercial prospects for a feature film about dodgy accounting practices might consider the Hollywood fate of Eichenwald's last book, the justly praised The Informant. This book about the scandal behind one multinational company's attempt to fix the prices of food additives worldwide seems at first to lack a certain sex appeal (so what if we all pay a little more for Jell-O?), but the movie—to be directed by Ocean's TwelveSteven Soderbergh and to star Matt Damon as the unhinged executive of the title—promises to be one of the more cerebral studio releases of 2006.
Briefs ... Authors looking to sweeten their advances with Hollywood movie money could do a lot worse than selling their books to HarperCollins's Dan Conaway. The former Polygram film scout—turned—book editor has just set up his third book, Richard Rayner's The Devil's Wind, with Front Street Productions' Jonas Goodman. The two hit it off at a routine office meeting when Conaway was just starting at Harper and shared, in Conaway's words, "an amazing kismet in terms of our taste." The editor regularly sent Goodman galleys of his upcoming books, including Peter Duffy's heroic Holocaust account, The Bielski Brothers, and Dick Lehr and Mitchell Zuckoff's Judgment Ridge, about the murders of two Dartmouth faculty members. Goodman, who also produced the Mark Ruffalo—Naomi Watts indie We Don't Live Here Anymore (based on two stories by Andre Dubus), responded by optioning both. Marjorie David, writer on television's Law &Order, will adapt the Rayner novel.