Kitchen Confidential

Did a 14-year-old boy witness the gruesome slaying of the Russian royal family by the Bolsheviks? That's just one of many mysteries explored in The Kitchen Boy (Viking, 2003), Robert Alexander'sNew York Times bestseller about the bloody July 1918 evening that ended the Romanov dynasty and ushered in seven decades of Communist hegemony. Glenn Williamson, who counts Hollywoodland and The Omen among his credits, has optioned Kitchen Boy for his four-year-old Back Lot Pictures. Alexander got the idea for the novel from a tantalizing actual entry in Empress Alexandra's diary penned hours before the family's execution. Alexandra writes that the revolutionaries have abruptly whisked their kitchen boy, Leonid Sednyov, to safety without explanation. In the author's imagination, Sednyov, now a frail immigrant living in Chicago, holds the answer to two real-life puzzles surrounding the Romanov murders. Judi Farkas of Judi Farkas Management negotiated the film deal for lit agent Marly Rusoff.

Lost in Space

The February 19 Hollywood Reader reported major interest in TV rights to Out There: The Inside Story of the Astronaut Love Triangle Case That Stunned America (St. Martin's), Diane Fanning's November book about pampered astronaut Lisa Nowak. No surprise there. The story of NASA employees behaving badly seems tailor made for movie-of-the-week treatment. Granada, apparently, has bigger plans. The U.K. powerhouse that brought The Queen to these shores optioned Out There with an eye toward turning the space-age love story into a feature in the satirical vein of To Die For (also inspired by a true story.) Jane Dystel of Dystel & Goderich and Hotchkiss & Associates'Jody Hotchkiss rep Fanning.

Tatum Sparks Deal

New Line won't be receiving a "Dear John" letter from Nicholas Sparks anytime soon. As reported in Variety, the studio has optioned Sparks's most recent bestseller, Dear John (Warner, Oct. 2006). New Line jumped after Temple Hill partners Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey attached rapidly rising young actor Channing Tatum to play the lead, a soldier who is torn between his love for a hometown college girl and his duty to serve his country after the 9/11 attacks. Tatum (HR, Dec. 18, 2006) appeared in last summer's frothy hit Step Up and stars in the upcoming highly anticipated Scott Rudin—produced Iraq war drama Stop Loss. Sparks's longtime agents, Theresa Park and UTA's Howie Sanders, did the deal.