No if’s: Burns ‘Big’ to pen Col pic

Pic described as 'MASH' in the Secret Service world

Columbia Pictures has optioned Mark Costello’s new novel, “Big If,” for Magnet Entertainment producers Ed Saxon and Peter Saraf (“The Truth About Charlie”). Scott Burns will write the screenplay.

Described as “MASH” in the world of the Secret Service, it’s a freewheeling story about a secret agent assigned to protect the vice president, and the agent’s dysfunctional New Hampshire family, which includes a brother who writes code for a sinister computer conglom called Big If.

The book is just out from W.W. Norton

Burns, repped by UTA, is writing “The Informant,” an adaptation of Kurt Eichenwald’s book about the Archer Daniels Midland price-fixing scandal, for Steven Soderbergh’s Warner-based shingle, Section Eight.

A commercials director and former ad copywriter who helped devise the “Got Milk?” campaign, Burns is writing a number of projects around town, including “PU239” at Working Title.

“Big If” is Costello’s second novel. His first, “Bag Men,” appeared under the name John Flood. He’s repped by Sterling Lord Literistic.

Col exec VP of production Amy Baer and creative exec Shannon Gaulding are overseeing the project.

Saxon and Saraf are producing a number of literary projects, including Col’s fall release “Adaptation,” an interpretation of Susan Orleans’ “The Orchard Thief” by Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze, and “Enemy Women,” based on the Civil War novel by Paulette Jiles.

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