Secrets & Lies

Actress Frances McDormand (Friends with Money; North Country), in an acquisition that seems in sync with the tastes of her husband—Fargo and Blood Simple director Joel Coen—has just optioned the rights to Laura Lippman's chiller Every Secret Thing (Morrow, 2003). The story picks up seven years after two 11-year-old children—"good girl" Alice Manning and "bad girl" Ronnie Fuller—inadvertently "steal" and cause the death of an unattended baby. Released from jail after they turn 18, the girls become suspects when children begin disappearing from their Baltimore town. Justin Manask of IPG negotiated the deal on behalf of Vicky Bijur of the Vicky Bijur Literary Agency.

Monkey Business

Move over, King Kong, there's a new ape in town. Big Max—also known as the ape in the cape, the mammal of might and the primate who lowers the crime rate—is the newest superhero from comics creator Dan Slott (She-Hulk), and currently being taken out for film rights by Michael Shlain at Shapiro-Lichtman. Published by Mr. Comics, the series debuted on April 5 and certainly feeds into the continuing celluloid superhero craze (witness this summer's Superman Returns and second X-Men sequel), but with a heavy rotation of clever puns and sendups.


Screenwriter Jim Hecht is having a good week. Not only did Ice Age: The Meltdown, which he co-wrote, open at a better-than-predicted $68 million last week, but he has also been hired to adapt Jarrett J. Krosoczka's picture book Punk Farm (Knopf, 2005). Just optioned by DreamWorks Animation, the rock 'n' roll tale follows Cow, Goat, Pig, Sheep and Chicken as they transform themselves into the titular band after Farmer Joe goes to bed.... Special delivery, indeed: in Joe Hill's debut novel, Heart-Shaped Box (to be published by Morrow in winter 2007), recently optioned by Warner Bros., aging rock star Jude Coyne decides to buy a ghost online, and the specter wreaks havoc upon its arrival via UPS.

Correction: The second half of the writing team Land of the Living is Nicci Gerrard (Hollywood Reader, Apr. 3); the book was represented by Gerrard and Sean French's longtime film agents, CAA, in coordination with Peters, Fraser & Dunlop in the U.K.