Little, Brown's Big Deal

Leave it to an agent 6,000 miles away from L.A.'s Kodak Theater to stir things up during the traditionally quiet days before the Academy Awards. But that's exactly what Curtis Brown U.K.'s Elizabeth Sheinkman did with Horse Boy, a 35-page proposal by human rights activist Rupert Isaacson. The week before the Oscars, Sheinkman submitted the proposal, a moving account of how Isaacson gained entrée into his young autistic son's world through a neighbor's horse and the subsequent journey they will be taking on horseback through Mongolia. By Tuesday, with Sheinkman running a heated auction with six U.S. publishers vying for what one foreign scout says has the potential to be a "real life Horse Whisperer," filmies were working furiously to get their hands on the proposal. Before Sheinkman could close a seven-figure deal from Little, Brown's Michael Pietsch and Judy Clain, the calls from producers started coming in. Sheinkman reports interest from three studios. This one won't go cheap: at press time, eight U.K. publishers had offers on the table. Little, Brown will publish Horse Boy. Curtis Brown's Nick Marston is handling film rights.

Sword Fight

"The spawn of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Cormier" is how PW reviewed Justin Gattis's martial arts bloodbath Kung Fu High School (Harvest, 2005). With that description, is it any wonder that Bob and Harvey Weinstein, the brotherly force behind Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Jackie Brown and every other Tarantino spectacle, snapped up film rights to Gattis's YA novel? With Holding Down Shadows, out now from IPG's Justin Manask, Gattis leaves behind dystopian high school hallways for a supernatural thriller set in Japan: when the grandson of an American soldier returns an ancient sword to Japan, he unleashes the soul of a murdered shogun. And, yes, the "Tarantino-esque" label still applies. Manask describes Shadows as "Spirited Away meets Kill Bill." Lizzy Kremer of David Higham Associates reps Gattis in the U.K.

For the Files

Lolita Files celebrates her second film deal: Carolyn Folks's option of Sex, Lies, Murder, Fame (Amistad paperback). Hip-hop VIP Kanye West has Files's 2001 Southern potboiler Children of God (Simon & Schuster) in development. Folks optioned Sex on behalf of Entertainment Studios. The Firm's Alan Nevins did the deal.