Par wraps up war story

Studio nabs rights to Ruzicka tale

Paramount has acquired rights to the story of Marla Ruzicka, a 28-year-old American relief worker killed in Iraq by a suicide bomber. Marc Platt will produce with MTV Films.

Studio bought Ruzicka’s life rights as well as a book that will be written about her by Jennifer Abrahamson. The author wrote the first part of the book with Ruzicka, in the form of a book proposal, before the relief worker and her driver were killed in April after a suicide bomber crashed into a security convoy they were following.

Ruzicka, one of the few American relief workers in Iraq, founded Civic — the Campaign for Innocent Victims of Conflict. She became a relentless advocate of civilians maimed and killed during the Iraqi and Afghanistan invasions. Often going door-to-door, she compiled lists of civilian war victims that shone a spotlight on the human costs of the war. She also sought compensation and medical treatment from the U.S. government for them.

Lit agent Joe Veltre, who’ll auction the book to publishers shortly, said the book and a film project brokered by UTA were in the works before the tragedy.

“I read about her and tracked her down in Iraq to urge her to write a book because her story was so unbelievable,” Veltre said. “She saw there was a huge problem and no policy in place to help these victims. Her efforts led to about $28 million in assistance for civilian casualties both in Afghanistan and Iraq. We pitched it as a young ‘Erin Brockovich.’ ”

Veltre said the auction plans halted after her death, but Ruzicka’s family felt her story should be told.

Several studios entered the bidding for the project. It was brought into Paramount by Platt Prods. exec Abby Wolf-Weiss and Par production prexy Allison Shearmur. Shearmur will oversee it with MTV Films’ David Gale. Jill Leighton is exec producer.


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