Helmer to develop Grisham bestseller

This article was corrected on Mar. 7, 2002.

New Regency has hired helmer Gary Fleder to develop “Runaway Jury,” its adaptation of the John Grisham bestseller, while concurrently inking an overall, first-look deal with his Mojo Films banner.

Fleder most recently directed the hit thriller “Don’t Say a Word” for New Regency. He’d previously spent the last four years hanging the Mojo shingle at New Line Cinema.

Courtroom drama “Jury” will be produced by Christopher Mankiewicz and overseen by president of production Sanford Panitch and senior VP Peter Cramer. Fleder’s attachment revives the costly project, which had been on track to go into production this month until Will Smith and Mike Newell lost interest (Daily Variety, Dec. 19).

New Regency originally paid a whopping $8 million for rights to the novel, which revolves around a jury foreman steering a precedent-setting verdict in a tobacco liability case. The project was subsequently revised to substitute gun makers for cigarette makers, leaving the principal characters and the thrust of the story intact.

Meanwhile, Fleder is interviewing candidates in his search for a producing partner, a hire he’s expected to make in the next month or two.

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