Telescene’s ‘Answer’

Canuck producer grabs Johansen thriller

Canadian-based film and TV producer Telescene has optioned the feature film rights to Roy Johansen’s upcoming debut novel, “The Answer Man,” as well as the screenplay he originally wrote more than 11 years ago.

The deal marks something of a second-coming of Johansen’s thriller. “Answer Man” was first sold to Warner Bros. in 1987 as a screenplay for producers Don Roos and Patricia Karlen. But after it languished in development, Johansen exercised his right to retain his first draft (but not rewrites) and focused on turning the script into his first novel.

Several years later, his Gotham lit agent at the Jane Rotrosen Agency sold the book to Bantam, which will publish it in hardcover next year. Joel Gotler of the Renaissance Agency brokered Johansen’s film deal on behalf of Rotrosen.

Story is about a down-on-his-luck polygraph expert who meets a beautiful attorney who persuades him to teach her client how to beat the lie-detector (for a hefty fee). But before the mancan pay up, he is brutally murdered; and now as a possible suspect, the polygraph expert is forced to seek out the murderer and the dead man’s missing loot.

Johansen, the son of bestselling novelist Iris Johansen (“The Ugly Duckling,” “Long After Midnight”), is at work on his second novel for Bantam.

As part of the deal, Montreal-based Telescene also acquired Johansen’s original screenplay.

Bruce Moccia, executive vice president in Telescene’s Los Angeles office, brought the project into the company. Telescene primarily has been involved in producing television shows and miniseries, including “Student Bodies” and “The Hunger.”

Telescene only recently began producing feature films. One of its first outings is the Finnish/Canadian co-production “Going to Kansas City.”

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