First-timer lands U, Scott for laffer pic

Universal has bought laffer spec script “Book of Leo” and Seann William Scott is attached to star. Marc Platt and Scott’s Identity Films will produce.

Sale is the first for scribe Joe Lovero, who is currently employed as a car insurance claims rep in Gotham.

Screenplay follows a man dissatisfied with the way his life has turned out. He decides to try to do everything he ever wanted to do, all in the week before his 30th birthday.

Scott, who starred in this past weekend’s box office champ “The Dukes of Hazzard,” will tackle “Leo” after he finishes lensing on helmer Richard Kelly’s “The Southland Tales.” He most recently wrapped on “Mr. Woodcock” for New Line.

Backstory to “Leo” is the sort of tale that fuels the aspiring screenwriters tapping away at their local Starbucks.

After a few years of trying (and failing) to break into the movie business, Lovero threw in the towel when he got married and went looking for a real job. “Car insurance was the job that paid the best. I’ve got to sack up and do it,” Lovero said.

“They send me out to do bodily injury settlements,” he said. “Basically, I meet with angry families who want $5,000 for whiplash. It’s such a terrible job.”

After college, Lovero had had several close-but-no-cigar experiences. One script he wrote caught the eye of a dot-com millionaire who was going to finance production. But the guy got divorced and the project was scrubbed.

He kept trying, even being flown out to L.A. by a producer to pitch some ideas. One script, “Fraternity,” caught the eyes of some agents who set out to package it, but that too fizzled.

“After that, I started to lick my wounds,” Lovero said. “I knew I was getting farther than a lot of other writers, but it wasn’t leading to anything. It wasn’t leading to a career.”

He says that’s where the idea for the “Book of Leo” script came from.

Eventually, it made its way to the hands of Ed Tapia, who had been an assistant for producer Gil Adler and was trying to break into producing.

Tapia showed it to Tariq Jalil, who ended up working in news operations for Telemundo and NBC after trying to break into the film biz himself.

“It was the first spec I’d ever gone wide with,” Jalil said.

He and Tapia now rep Lovero as his managers and are exec producing “Leo.”

Lovero is currently in L.A. trying to figure out if the screenwriting thing will work out, but he hasn’t given notice at the car insurance gig just yet.

Marc Platt Prods. execs Nicole Brown and Adam Siegel are overseeing “Leo.” Other projects Platt is developing for U include “Good Grief,” “The Power of Duff” and “Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life.”

Other projects on Identity Films’ development slate include “The Untitled Camp Project” and “Gregoire Moulin,” both for Universal, and “The Optimist” for New Line.

U senior VP Holly Bario and development director Kristin Lowe are overseeing “Leo” for the studio.

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