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Trustman nabs Casey’s ‘Spartina’

Producer Kathy Trustman has closed a deal for the rights to John Casey’s “Spartina”– a character-driven piece reminiscent of “A River Runs Through It,” sources confirmed Friday.

An independent producer, Trustman out-jockeyed studios for the movie rights to “Spartina,” beating bids from Paramount Pictures on behalf of producer David Picker and Universal Pictures on behalf of producer Rob Cohen.

Terms of the “Spartina” acquisition were $ 150,000 up front against $ 150,000 on first day of principal photography, $ 100,000 if the budget escalates beyond the $ 15 million marker and a $ 30,000 consulting fee for author Casey during production.

Trustman was represented in “Spartina” negotiations by Debbie Von Arx of the Weissmann, Wolff, Bergman, Coleman & Silverman law firm. Trustman is a commercial and film producer in Massachusetts, who is backed by two silent partners at Boston-based Chelsea Films.

“Spartina” is about a blue-collar worker who attempts to quell his inner turmoil by building a 50-foot boat. Winner of the National Book Award in 1989, the project was unsold for more than a year because offers were so low that it would have been like “selling ‘Moby Dick’ for $ 10,000,” according to William Morris literary agent Amy M. Schiffman.

Schiffman said the intense treatment of character in “Spartina” was initially a hard sell in Hollywood.

She said the majority of producers in Hollywood say they want properties in the “River Runs Through It” vein, “but in reality what they want is ahigh-concept property they can sell to a studio in a one-line pitch.”

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