A journo’s tale for Warner

Studio options Pearl widow's memoir

Corrections were made to this article on Oct. 21, 2003.

Warner Bros. has paid high-six figures to buy the feature film rights to Mariane Pearl’s memoir “A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband Danny Pearl” for Brad Grey, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston’s WB-based Plan B Prods. to produce.

The book is her heart wrenching account of the disappearance and murder in Pakistan of her husband, the South Asia bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal. Mariane was a journalist herself and she was very pregnant when Daniel left one fatal day for a meeting and was abducted by Pakistani militants who were suspected to be Muslim terrorists tied to Al Qaeda.

A frantic search ended with his brutal death at the hands of the kidnappers. Mariane wrote the book as a tribute to the spirit of her husband and while her compelling prose had film suitors lined up, she was initially reluctant to seek a film deal because of the painful nature of the story.

Finally, she was swayed that a movie might provide a lasting legacy for her husband, and she chose the WB bid over rival bids from Universal and Paramount. WB got the book through its Gotham-based scout Maria Campbell. The auction was brokered by ICM’s Ron Bernstein and WB senior vp of production Courtenay Valenti and Plan B’s Kristin Hahn, who will supervise the hiring of a screenwriter. Book was repped by literary agent Kris Dahl with Bernstein.

Pearl’s book comes on the heels of French literary figure Bernard Henri Levy’s “Who Killed Daniel Pearl?”

That book was also repped by ICM’s Ron Bernstein.

The property is the latest high profile literary acquisition by Plan B, which has teamed with John Wells to option the James Frey book “A Million Little Pieces,” and is paired with David Heyman on the Mark Haddon novel “Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” a book which is being adapted and directed by Steve Kloves. Plan B is also shepherding with Richard Zanuck the new pic version of the Roald Dahl classic “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” which Tim Burton will direct and which Johnny Depp will star in next year.

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