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Col counts ‘Minutes’

Studio nears screen rights to book on 9/11

Columbia Pictures is in advanced negotiations to acquire screen rights to “102 Minutes,” a newly published book about 9/11 by New York Times reporters Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn featuring tales of heroism and incompetence, with the added element of a ticking clock.

Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Michael Jackson will produce; Sidney Kimmel exec produces. The New York Times is a participant in the Henry Holt-published book and the movie project.

Title refers to the time span between the moment the first plane hit the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. and the time the first tower collapsed at 10:28 a.m.

Book examines the disaster from the vantage point of those inside the buildings and details the frantic efforts that went into addressing the crisis and trying to save lives.

“102 Minutes” joins recent studio deals for 9/11 films. Among them is a pic being developed by Double Features partners Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher, who are working with producer Debra Hill on an Andrea Berloff-scripted film about the rescue of Port Authority cops Will Jimeno and John McLoughlin from the WTC rubble. And Imagine’s Brian Grazer has a deal with NBC Universal TV for an eight-hour miniseries based on the 585-page 9/11 Commission Report.

Dwyer previously co-wrote a book about the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, and Flynn was the Times’ police bureau chief on Sept. 11. Their book is getting attention for its thorough dissection of deficiencies in building construction and disaster preparedness, flaws that ranged from a lack of fire-resistant staircases to turf battles between cops and firemen.

Perhaps more important for the film, “102 Minutes” illustrates the sacrifices and heroism by ordinary people and rescuers to get nearly 12,000 people out of the buildings before their collapse.

De Luca, who just wrapped “Zathura,” was in Australia prepping Col project “Ghost Rider,” and was unavailable for comment. Project is his second with Horovitz at Sony. Last year, they bought rights to Michael Lewis’ book “Moneyball.”Jackson is the former chairman of Universal Television.

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