This week: Family and friends come to the fore—another Zappa takes his turn, a third Ephron sister takes hers, and a buddy brightens a Black Monday.
With siblings named Moon Unit and Dweezil and a late rock-icon father known for records with titles like Uncle Meat and Weasels Ripped My Flesh, any creative undertaking by 31-year-old Ahmet Zappa was bound to be original and slightly off-kilter. That's the word from film execs who read Zappa's illustrated YA manuscript, Monstrous Memoirs of Mighty McFearless (Random, 2006). Zappa's first novel sparked an all-out feeding frenzy with his tale of a brother and sister who discover they are descended from a long line of monster hunters. The siblings put aside their differences to fight evil creatures that are determined to see that the two never reach the Clearasil years. Four studios jumped on the book, with three bids topping $1 million. Disney vanquished rival suitors with a $1.5-million offer for producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Fighting baddies runs in the Zappa household: he is married to actress Selma Blair, currently seen in Sony's fright flick The Fog. Helen Breitwieser of Cornerstone Literary Agency reps Zappa. Hotchkiss & Associates'Jody Hotchkiss negotiated the film deal.
It's been a good run for Hotchkiss and things that go bump in the night. The film agent has just closed a deal for Here Be Monsters (S&S, 2006), a first YA novel by animator and illustrator Alan Snow. The story follows assorted illustrated creatures as they try to save their town from the dastardly Snatcher. Portland, Ore.-based Laica Studios (né Vinton Studios, creators of the California Raisins) beat out Aardman Animations, home of Wallace & Gromit. Oxford University Press published Monsters in the U.K. PFD's RosemaryCanter reps Snow for lit. —J.A.
All That Jazz
Jazz Age enthusiasts, rejoice! The Baldwin Entertainment Group has acquired the rights to Amy Ephron's One Sunday Morning (Morrow, May) for a pilot for a one-hour weekly TV series. Set in 1920s New York and Paris, the novel revolves around a quartet of young society women and the gents and cads who weave through their lives—think Sex & the City meets Edith Wharton. Ephron, who will serve as an executive producer alongside BEG's Howard and Karen Baldwin, has also been tapped to write the pilot. The adaptation gig should be nothing new for the showbiz scion; Ephron is, of course, the sister of Nora and Delia, who co-wrote this summer's Bewitched reimagining. (Busy bee Delia also co-adapted Ann Brashares's The Sisterhoodof the Traveling Pants [Random, 2001] for the big screen this summer with Elizabeth Chandler.) Ephron is repped by ICM's Amanda Urban for lit; her TV agent is Tanya Lopez, also of ICM. —M.K.
Friendship Has Its Privileges
Just ask Paramount's Patricia Burke and veteran author Bob Reiss (his last five under the nom de pulp Ethan Black). Reiss befriended the long-time VP of literary affairs back in the early 1990s when the studio optioned The Last Spy for Tom Clancy producer Mace Neufeld. The movie never got made, but the two became fast friends—so much so that Reiss asked ICM's Josie Freedman to give his latest novel, Black Monday, to Burke on an exclusive. Clearly, the apocalyptic thriller, about a mutant virus that contaminates the global oil supplies and plunges the world into deep chaos, sent chills up Burke's spine—five days later the studio optioned the book for producer Tom Jacobson. ICM's Esther Newberg is on submission to publishers now. —J.A.