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Sparks adaptation is ‘Dear’ to Tatum

Bestselling author igniting New Line

Where there’s Sparks, there’s heat.

New Line Cinema, which had a sleeper hit with “The Notebook,” has snapped up screen rights to another Nicholas Sparks bestseller, “Dear John,” and attached Channing Tatum to star.

It’s the second Sparks title acquired by New Line, which turned “The Notebook” into a profitable sleeper. According to sources, New Line paid high six figures against seven figures for the novel, which was published last fall.

Temple Hill partners Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey will produce.

While home on leave, a soldier falls hard for a gorgeous but conservative college student. Though they plan to wed, time and distance take a toll on their commitment to each other.

Sparks has kindled a number of profitable romance films, including “A Walk to Remember” and “Message in a Bottle.” Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow are getting under way on an adaptation of the Sparks novel “Nights in Rodanthe,” which stars Richard Gere and Diane Lane.

The author was swayed by the choice of Tatum to play the young soldier. The thesp recently starred in the hit “Step Up” and “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints.” Tatum also has completed playing the lead in “Stop Loss,” the Kimberly Peirce-directed drama for Paramount Pictures.

“This was a lot like ‘The Notebook,’ in that it is populist romantic fiction that is like candy you just don’t want to put down,” said New Line production president Toby Emmerich.

“We talked about the things that were important to Nicholas, and it turns out he is a fan of Channing Tatum … who is in a similar position to where Ryan Gosling was when he did ‘The Notebook.’ ”

Temple Hill partners Bowen and Godfrey slipped the book to the actor, who also is attached to star in “Parkour,” an action film they set up at New Line that is being written by Kevin Lund and T.J. Scott.

UTA brokered the book deal.

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