Fox, journo Lewis ink deal for thriller

Twentieth Century Fox has struck a deal with author-journalist Michael Lewis to pen a screenplay based upon his original idea for a Silicon Valley-based thriller.

Neither the studio, Lewis nor his reps would divulge specific details of the story, other than to describe the pitch as a dramatic thriller set in Silicon Valley.

“It is an attempt to capture all of the psychodrama, paranoia — which is a signature psychological disorder here — and a business premised on something taking the place of something else,” Lewis told Daily Variety. “And all of this is unconnected to the rest of society.”

Fox senior veepee Peter Rice brought in Lewis’ pitch and will oversee it for Tom Rothman’s Fox film division.

Lewis, who is living in Palo Alto while his wife attends Stanford U. under a fellowship program, has been researching the local high-tech industry and its social structure for a series of cover stories for the New York Times magazine. The scribe says he also intends to turn his research into a non-fiction account of his time in the area.

“The place has the same center-of-the-universe feel to it that Wall Street did in the 1980s,” Lewis told Daily Variety. “It has a value system that goes with it, its own culture or subculture in which the young eat the old. It’s speeded up like some study in economic Darwinism.”

While screenwriting is a new endeavor for Lewis, he is accustomed to focusing a great deal of attention on the foibles and effects of industry or politics on current society. Lewis’ previous works include the book “Liar’s Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage of Wall Street,” in which he described his rise from trainee to bond salesman during the ’80s heyday on Wall Street.

Last year, Knopf published Lewis’ book “Trail Fever: Spin Doctors, Rented Strangers, Thumb Wrestlers, Toe Suckers, Grizzly Bears and Other Creatures on the Road to the White House,” which grew out of his coverage of the 1996 presidential campaign for the New Republic.

ICM’s Robert Newman and Jacqueline Fuchs brokered the deal on Lewis’ behalf.

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