This week: A producer still has the Lovely touch and another film agent turns author. Plus, the entertainment industry's response to the Terri Schiavo case.
Lightning strikes twice for Aimee Peyronet and her Dreamworks-based production company, Wild Child Films. Shortly after setting up David Guterson's Our Lady of the Forest (Knopf, 2003) at the U.K.'s Film Four, Peyronet and Wild Child v-p Ian McGloin have landed acclaimed Irish playwright Conor McPherson (The Weir) to adapt, and a soon-to-be-named Oscar-winning director. Peyronet scored the deal of the century when she optioned Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones (Little, Brown, 2002) as a partial manuscript in a low five-figure deal. The project was originally envisioned as an artsy independent project to be written and directed by Lynn Ramsey (Ratcatcher), but now Peter Jackson—the auteur behind another low-budget venture, Lord of the Rings—is on board to direct (funny what more than four million books in print will do). Guterson's novel also made the Hollywood rounds, but never found a buyer. Perhaps Peyronet, who clearly has a gift for spotting potential in literary projects that others overlook, relates to the novel's heroine, a girl who claims to see an apparition of the Virgin Mary that others cannot. Ken Sherman of Ken Sherman Assoc. represented Guterson on the film deal.
Many people dream of leaving their day jobs to write the novel they've been carrying around inside them for years. Laurie Horowitz, the 10-year CAA veteran (clients included Elinor Lipman and Pagan Kennedy) who left agenting earlier this year, wasted no time launching her writing career. Graham King's International Entertainment Group (The Aviator; Gangs of New York) has just optioned Horowitz's first novel, The Family Fortune, a modern retelling of Persuasion in which the sensible daughter of a flighty Brahmin family finds love against all odds (or, as film agent Amy Schiffman put it, "Jane Austen in Boston"). Brandt & Hochman's Gail Hochman is on submission to publishers now.
Briefs... While protesters passed the days outside of Terri Schiavo's Florida hospice, bloggers and news Web sites across the country ripped into the announcement that CBS had rushed a television movie starring Keri Russell as Terri and Dean Cain as husband Michael into production for May broadcast. Only problem: the story was a total fabrication. (A tip for aspiring Matt Drudges out there: if you're going to rely on a gossip site as a primary source—in this case, www.defamer.com—at least check to see that the date isn't April 1.) While TV execs believe that a future Schiavo movie (and probably more than one—remember Amy Fisher? She got three) will be a ratings slam-dunk, some editors at both mainstream and Christian publishing houses are less excited about taking on the subject as a book project. "Americans don't want to read about death," said one. Another, the head of a respected religion imprint, feels that since the national debate was framed by legal arguments rather than faith-based ones, the project might be a better fit for a conservative house specializing in political issues, such as Regnery. But then they'd have to pin it on the Clintons.