Pakula options Cullen’s ‘Story’

Sources said Tuesday that Alan J. Pakula’s Gotham-based production outfit has optioned the film rights for former overseas correspondent Robert Cullen’s debut novel “Cover Story.”

Though Pakula’s offices could not be reached late Tuesday, sources said the “Pelican Brief” helmer/producer — who has not yet announced his next feature — was excited enough about the thriller to consider bringing it to the screen as writer, producer and helmer.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, though sources pegged the transaction at $ 350,000 with a minimum $ 150,000 bonus for the writer when the pic goes into production. The deal is said to have closed around Jan. 15. “Cover Story” will be published by the Atheneum imprint in New York in June.

Incorporating several dramatic elements from Cullen’s stint as Newsweek’s Moscow correspondent, the post-Cold War story is about a reporter covering the Arab/Israeli peace talks who becomes involved with a female Mossad operative and learns that the U.S. spooks and diplomats may not be as neutral about the summit’s result as they seem.

Cullen will likely be attached to the pic in a key co-producing or advisory role, sources said.

Gotham-based Ana Maria Allessi of the Agency for the Performing Arts hammered out the deal for Cullen on the film side, while Bethesda, Md.-based agents Raphael Sagalyn and Jenny Bent of the Raphael Sagalyn Literary Agency repped the author’s book properties. Pakula topper Don Laventhall made the deal for the director.

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