The nuclear option for the big screen? Lydia Millet's fifth novel, Oh Pure and Radiant Heart—this time a novel about the atomic bomb—may lack a Hollywood happy ending (hint: start stockpiling the Spam), but the book's wild premise has caught the attention of the town. Helped by rave reviews in Entertainment Weekly and Vanity Fair (the industry's required reading), agent Maria Massie of Lippincott Massie McQuilkin came back from the holiday weekend to an in-box clogged with inquiries from L.A. The project is admittedly not typical popcorn fare (a librarian and her husband spot the three long-dead scientists responsible for the atomic bomb and give them refuge; the time-traveling trio, horrified by their legacy, journey cross-country in an effort to rid the world of nukes), but the original concept and brainy topicality may attract high-brow producers like Section 8, the production company founded by George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh.
The novel's success would seem to vindicate Soft Skull's unorthodox two-for-one strategy. Publisher Richard Nash acquired the novel along with Everyone's Pretty, an early unsold manuscript by Millet, and published both novels just four months apart—Pretty in February, Radiant last month. Harcourt's Harvest recently picked up reprint rights to Radiant for a July 2006 pub date.
Satire may have a pretty dismal record at the box office, but at least one studio won't be dissuaded. Paramount has made an offer for Company (Doubleday, Jan. 2006) the latest corporate satire from former ad man Max Barry (né Maxx Barry). In the novel, a new employee at a faceless conglomerate can't figure out what the company actually produces. Since he has very little to do all day, he makes it his mission to find out. He discovers that he and his co-workers are all lab rats in an experiment being run by another company studying human behavior in a corporate environment—The Truman Show set in an office park. Perhaps Paramount is mindful of another send-up of cubicle culture, 1999's Office Space. That cult favorite by Beavis and Butt-head creator Mike Judge flopped in its initial theatrical release, but went on to become a huge earner in its DVD afterlife. It still ranks as one of Fox's bestselling DVD titles of all time. Luke Janklow of Janklow & Nesbit and CAA's Brian Siberell represent Barry.
Ira Levin meets Dan Brown? That's how UTA's Howie Sanders is pitching The Scar Collector, a first novel by Dallas-based screenwriter David Norman. The above description might be the only economical way to describe a thriller involving the Catholic Church, fugitive Nazis, a mysterious Japanese bodyguard, the Holy Grail, Nordic mythology, Israeli Mossad agents, and a pagan relic buried inside an ancient cavern. Somehow—perhaps miraculously—Norman pulls it off. Said one producer who read a leaked copy, "It's a unique spin on the search for the Holy Grail told from the perspective of an everyman." When he's not penning screenplays, the multitasking Texan owns and operates a wild game—processing facility (sausages, to you and me). Jenny Bent of Trident Media Group is on submission to publishers now.