A Desert Express

Set to be re-released November 23, Warner Bros.' 2004 CGI adaptation of Chris Van Allsburg's The Polar Express (Houghton, 1985) is proof that a children's holiday film has theatrical (not to mention DVD) longevity. Could the next holiday-tinged perennial be Susan Fletcher's Alphabet of Dreams (S&S, 2006)? Set in ancient Persia, the historical YA novel follows the clairvoyant Babak and his sister, Mitra—who disguises herself as a boy—as they traverse the desert with a caravan in hopes of being reunited with their royal family after a coup. And their unusual caravan companions? The Three Wise Men. Currently on submission by Curtis Brown's Holly Frederick, the epic adventure is being eyed by two different studios. Emilie Jacobson, also of Curtis Brown, reps Fletcher for lit.

Waiting to Wed

Move over, Terry McMillan. The newest entry in African-American women's fiction destined for romantic comedy-filmdom may well be The Vow by Angela Burt-Murray, Mitzi Miller and Denene Millner, just out this month from Amistad. The story stars three 30-something Hollywood types, each of whom pledges to have a husband on her arm within a year. The showbiz tale no doubt gets some of its juice from Burt-Murray and Miller's day jobs as editors at Essence and Jane, respectively; the novel is currently on submission by co-agents Jennifer Konawal and Victoria Sanders of the Gersh Agency. Konowal also reps Miller for lit, and Sanders reps Burt-Murray and Millner.

A Gotham Mystic River?

In 2003, Clint Eastwood's powerful adaptation of Dennis Lehane's Mystic River caused a stir at the Oscars, including scoring acting statuettes for stars Sean Penn and Tim Robbins and nominations for Eastwood as director and Brian Helgeland as screenwriter. Currently being pitched in the same deeply layered vein is Daniel Judson's The Darkest Place. Bought on preempt by St. Martin's this past March, the heavy-duty drama will be published in spring 2006 and is just out to producers. Part crime-procedural, part character-study, the story traces the uneasy alliance among three New Yorkers—a wannabe detective, a college instructor and a burned-out PI—as they collaborate to unmask a serial killer. Judson is repped by Scott Miller of the Trident Group.