Someone should find out what they're putting in the water over at Esquire. Just three weeks after Paramount snapped up the rights to A.J. Jacobs 's The Year of Living Biblically (S&S, 2007; see Hollywood Reader, Aug. 1), Universal preempted "My Outsourced Life," an article by Jacobs from the magazine's September issue. In what might be called "extreme outsourcing," Jacobs wonders, if corporate America can find 20-year-olds in Mumbai to do jobs for less, why can't he? For $1,400 he hires two "remote executive assistants" in India (Asha and the Bond Girl—sounding Honey Balani ) to tend to all of his personal and business responsibilities—from dealing with his cell phone carrier to fighting with his wife. Funny guy Jay Roach (Austin Powers) will produce from a script by Larry Stuckey . "Life" is the third substantial film deal ICM's Josie Freedman has scored for Jacobs. Sloan Harris reps Jacobs for lit.

Writers not trusting enough to outsource their prose should take their cue from L.A. screenwriter Karen McCullah Lutz . The Legally Blonde and 10 Things I Hate About You co-scribe has just optioned her chick-lit novel The Bachelorette Party (St. Martin's, Feb.) to Fox, Nicole Kidman to produce and star. Lutz will adapt the novel, about an out-of-control bachelorette party which forces a female guest to choose between her male best friend (the groom) and the uptight woman he's about to marry (the female guest's cousin). Lutz is hardly the first big-time screenwriter to double-dip. How to Lose a Guy's Kristen Buckley sold her novel, The Parker Grey Show (Berkley, 2004), to New Line and promptly signed on for adaptation duties. Stepmom's Gigi Levangie collected $1 million for film rights to her novel, Maneater (S&S, 2003), then wrote the script for Mandalay. If you're still worried Levangie might miss this month's mortgage payment, fear not—she's married to Imagine Entertainment co-founder Brian Grazer .

Briefs.... Summer 2005 will be remembered in Hollywood as the season audiences abandoned action. Execs hoping the April flop XXX: State of the Union was an anomaly soon saw moviegoers flee Michael Bay 's $124-million dud The Island and Sony's unmanned Stealth. Despite a killer cast and trailer for Stealth and reviews calling The Island a personal best for Bay (which may not be saying much for the director of Armageddon and Bad Boys II), these high-concept actioners will go down as two of the biggest money-losers of the year. With the French-made March of the Penguins, a documentary about penguins—penguins!—set to obliterate both films at the box office, some predict Hollywood may accelerate its robust book-buying spree. "Studios are looking for voices again, and the more complex, nuanced stories tend to come from books and articles," says one L.A. agent, who also points to a dismal spec market as another reason the industry is turning to publishing.