Shia LaBeouf to star in ‘Associate’

Paramount nabs rights to new Grisham thriller

Paramount Pictures has set Shia LaBeouf to play the title role in the bigscreen version of John Grisham’s upcoming legal thriller “The Associate,” which the studio has just acquired rights to.

Lorenzo di Bonaventura is producing.

LaBeouf will play a student who’s about to graduate from Yale Law School when he’s manipulated into accepting a job at a prestige law firm and given privileged information about a multibillion-dollar lawsuit.

The novel, Grisham’s first legal thriller since 2005’s “The Broker,” will be published in January by Random House.

Grisham’s longtime rep, David Gernert, shopped the book by giving it to four producers. While some felt that lessened the book’s chances to find a suitor in a tight marketplace, the strategy worked.

Par-based Di Bonaventura, who as an exec worked on the Grisham films “A Time to Kill” and “The Client,” received the book in the Middle East, where he and LaBeouf were shooting “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.” There, they agreed to do it together.

Deal gives Paramount another LaBeouf vehicle to follow the “Transformers” films, on which the studio partners with DreamWorks. He last starred for the studio in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”

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