Grosso Jacobson Entertainment has inked a deal with mystery novelist Mary Higgins Clark to produce three movies based on one of her books for NBC’s “Friday Night Mystery” wheel, in association with NBC Prods.

Grosso Jacobson and NBCP will adapt Higgins’ novel, “While My Pretty One Sleeps,” as one movie, and develop two additional original stories using characters from the book.

The commitment is for two movies and a third script.

The goal, according to GJE principal Larry Jacobson, is to create a recurring movie franchise that could lead to a one-hour light mystery series. Producer Gloria Monty (“General Hospital”) will produce along with Jacobson and partner Sonny Grosso, whose credits include “Top Cops” and “Secret Service.”

David Kinghorn is scripting the first movie, which could go into production as early as January. Grosso sees the franchise as having the potential of “a younger version of ‘Murder, She Wrote.’ ”

Clark, whose bestsellers include “The Cradle Will Fall,””Where Are the Children?” and “A Stranger Is Watching,” recently signed a major deal with publisher Simon & Schuster and will outline stories for the subsequent movies.

NBC has been scrambling to program the “Mystery Movie” slot since the death of Raymond Burr, who starred in the “Perry Mason” franchise, and the loss of the “Janek” movies after CBS exercised an option on the property. The other two elements star Larry Hagman and Kenny Rogers.

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