Parents may have trouble lulling their children to sleep after exposing them to Nightmare Academy, the first book of a planned trilogy by screenwriter/director Dean Lorey (Arrested Development; My Wife and Kids). The title, whose publishing rights will shortly be auctioned by William Morris's Rob Carlson, follows the adventures of a boy who discovers that his bad dreams are portals that allow monsters into the real world. Universal bought the story in a high six-figure deal on the strength of a completed manuscript for the first book and outlines for the second and third. Lorey is slated to write the adaptation, and Stephen Sommers (Van Helsing) and his partner Bob Ducsay will produce.
The Horse Investigator
When equestrian consultant Jan Neuharth, daughter of USA Today founder Al Neuharth, penned her first mystery, The Hunt (Paper Chase Farms Publishing Group, 2003), she set it in the world she knows best: the foxhunting community of Middleburg, Va. The thriller centers on Doug Cummings, an avid horseman and attorney who gets framed for the murder of his former lover and horse groom. Oberon Entertainment's Ron Dudley optioned the title in a low six-figure deal. Neuharth, who is also an attorney, represented herself in the deal.
Dormant since 2002's adultery drama Unfaithful, director Adrian Lyne has signed on to helm an adaptation of Chuck Hogan's Prince of Thieves (Scribner, 2004), a gritty crime drama about a quartet of hoods from Charlestown, Mass., who rip off a bank, only to see their leader fall for the female bank manager. The screenplay will be written by Sheldon Turner (The Longest Yard) and produced by Warner Bros.... Writer/ director James Gray (The Yards) has been tapped by Universal and Strike Entertainment to helm and rewrite an adaptation of Steven Knight's drama Alphabet City (Penguin, 1995). Knight—who co-created TV's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? — wrote the first adaptation of his own novel, about an undercover journalist who infiltrates a New York City gang. Strike's Marc Abraham and Eric Newman are producing with Matthew Irmas (Three of Hearts).