Touchstone nabs ‘Falasha’

NEW YORK — Touchstone Pictures and producer Jerry Bruckheimer won a fevered bidding battle for “Falasha,” a fact-based pitch about a Gotham stockbroker drafted by the Mossad to create a Club Med in the Sudan that was a front for a covert operation to liberate Ethiopian Jews.

The story has been called a contemporary “Schindler’s List,” and gained steam when Michael Douglas’ company, Douglas/Reuther, pursued it for Universal while “Speed” director Jan De Bont brought it to Fox. But Disney-based Bruckheimer, who was first to make a bid, emerged victorious, paying low against mid-six figures.

Agents Jimmy Vines and Gersh’s Ron Bernstein were hoping for a big money movie purchase before Vines takes it to publishers. The identity of the stockbroker — who pitched the story and will write the book under a pseudonym — is being kept a secret for fear of reprisals, but he was drafted by the Mossad during a vacation to Israel to set up the Club Med in the Sudan.

While they catered to tourists during the day, the workers saved their real duty for night — they were operatives who found ways into an internment camp and whisked away detainees. Over a 10-year period, they liberated more than 10,000 Ethiopian Jews, according to the pitch.

The deal was brokered by Bruckheimer exec VP Chad Oman and Disney exec veep Susan Lyne.

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