Berman, Braun working on different 'Modern' deal

Columbia Pictures has made the equivalent of a first-look deal with the New York Times for “Modern Love,” the column that runs in the paper’s Sunday Styles section.

It becomes the second recent deal for “Modern Love.” Sony Pictures TV and producers Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun are separately producing an HBO “Modern Love” pilot written by Jenny Bicks (“Sex and the City”), with Alan Poul (“Six Feet Under”) directing. Deal was made under the BermanBraun banner.

While the HBO show is built around the fictionalized male editor of the column who is getting through a messy divorce and returning to the dating world, the film deal gives the film studio first crack at specific “Modern Love” columns that can fuel romantic comedies. Berman and Braun would produce them.

Since signing with ICM, the Gray Lady has made north of 20 option deals for film or TV projects, including the recent sale to Lifetime and Sony TV of the article “At an Age for Music and Dreams, Real Life Intrudes.”

Published in April, the story focused on an 18-year-old senior who competes in a national high school orchestra competition at Lincoln Center. Unlike most other student musicians, Tiffany Clay struggles to support herself by working as a carhop at a Sonic Drive-In in Newark, Ohio.

Clay’s life rights are part of the deal brokered by ICM, so maybe she will get to college after all.

Among the recent NYT content deals was the recent story of immigrant students planning a prom, which Jenny Lumet is scripting for Miramax; an article about a 12-year-old wannabe food critic that Lorne Michaels is developing at Paramount; and one about a small college football team paid to be crushed by bigger schools, which Universal is developing with Jack Black. None of the development projects has yet turned into a movie.

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