Witt, Langley, Harris to o'see project

New Line has beaten out several U.K. offers for film rights to “Being Alexander,” a first novel by British author Nancy Sparling.

Novel depicts an amiable London man whose life suddenly comes unhinged: He catches his girlfriend cheating on him, loses his job, gets kicked out of his house and gets mugged. Reinventing himself as a mean-spirited predator, he finds materialistic success only to discover that it doesn’t make him happy.

The high level of U.K. interest in the book is characteristic of a gradual shift in the lit market.

The appetite for books in Hollywood remains cooler than it was a few years back, when high-concept romantic dramedies like “Alexander” generated significant heat — a trend accelerated by fear of a work stoppage this summer. But U.K. production entities, including Film Four, Renaissance and BBC Films, have taken steps to ramp up their developments slates lately, creating a lucrative market for lit agents.

William Morris, which reps Sparling, was shopping the book at the London Book Fair. U.K. publisher Hodder Stoughton picked up publishing rights just prior to the fair. It’s currently on submission to U.S. houses.

New Line veep of production Renee Witt, senior VP of production Donna Langley and exec VP of production Lynn Harris will oversee the project under New Line prexy Toby Emmerich.

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