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WB, Par have a novel idea

Rudin wins bidding war for Foer's post-9/11 story

Warner Bros., Paramount and producer Scott Rudin emerged from a spirited auction with screen rights to the untitled next novel by Jonathan Safran Foer.

Book concerns a 10-year-old boy who recovers from losing his father in the Sept. 11 attacks by delving into his family history, uncovering secrets in the process.

Deal is worth mid-six against seven figures, but the bidding got so heated that Rudin is rumored to have won the day by giving the author some of the gross participation that the producer gets in his standard deal.

That’s a remarkable concession for a piece of literary fiction about a boy not named Harry Potter. Still, sources said Rudin described it as his toughest auction since he bought “The Firm.” As many as seven suitors bid for the book after a manuscript was leaked on Friday, possibly by a foreign scout.

Offers materialized early this week. Bidding studios didn’t seem eager to raise the stakes, but the producers did. Several said the novel is a stylistic tour de force, and at least one other bidding producer pledged portions of his producing fees to sweeten the pot.

That rarely happens, particularly in the current sluggish lit marketplace. No other producer could step up to the level that Rudin did with his gross pledge.

Newly minted Warner Bros. exec Lynn Harris chased the book separately from Paramount prexy Donald De Line. Rudin brought those two studios together because just last week the pair had bid up the rights to the BBC miniseries “State of Play” into a seven-figure deal. Though Rudin and Par won that derby, the studios decided to spare themselves another battle. So they bid together against DreamWorks, Universal and a few other studios.

Foer’s novel, which will get some revisions, will be published by Houghton Mifflin. Book is the 27-year-old Princeton grad’s second novel, after his critically acclaimed debut “Everything Is Illuminated.” That book is headed for the bigscreen, with actor Liev Schreiber making his directing debut for Warner Independent Pictures.

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