DiPego to pen ‘Message’

Screenwriter Gerald DiPego, who wrote “Phenomenon,” will adapt the sweeping love story “Message in a Bottle” for Warner Bros.-based Denise Di Novi pictures.

The studio purchased the new Nicholas Sparks novel in February for a reported $1.5 million. DiPego will receive mid-six figures against high six figures for his script, according to sources.

The book is about a female journalist who, while walking on the beach, finds a bottle in the sand that contains a love letter from a man to his wife. She falls in love with the letter-writer and sets out in search of him.**sbCareer rebound

Career rebound

“Message” furthers what has been a resurgence in the feature world for DiPego, 56. “Phenomenon,” which grossed $110 million domestically, marked his first produced feature screenplay since “Sharky’s Machine” in 1981. In the intervening years, he had a steady stream of work writing novels and in TV, including longforms for cable.

“Writers are afraid of ageism and do talk about it,” DiPego said. “But I think that mostly they are pinpointing series television. The thing that writers have is we can simply put the proof of our work on the producer’s desk. We get judged by the page.”

DiPego’s most recent script, “Instinct,” based on the novel “Ishmael,” is set up at Disney. And he is currently writing “Mutant Message Down Under,” about a woman’s journey across the Australian outback with a tribe of Aborigines. His novel “Cheevey,” the story of a young man growing up in a family out of control, was published last year by Little, Brown.

And while “Message” and his other work cover different genres, DiPego says that each is grounded in the general theme of “the search for something larger than ourselves.”

In fact, he said that “Phenomenon” and “Cheevey” marked career milestones, allowing him to pull away from “pure entertainment and pure psychological thrillers.”

Writing bravely

“I think as I become older as a writer, I become braver as a writer,” DiPego said. “I just do that work that comes from my heart and don’t worry about the marketplace. That sounds like a cliche, but it can be a tough concept to live by.”

Other projects DiPego has written include “Whispers,” an adaptation for Disney of the Irwin Shaw short story “Whispers in Bedlam,” and “The Protector,” a detective thriller at Universal.

DiPego is repped by Gayla Nethercott of Broder Kurland Webb Uffner Agency.

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