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DiCaprio set to ‘Beat the Reaper’

New Regency nabs rights to Josh Bazell novel

New Regency is acquiring screen rights to “Beat the Reaper,” eyed as a star vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio.

The protagonist in the novel penned by Josh Bazell is a Manhattan emergency room doctor, whose life becomes complicated when a mobster recognizes the doc from his former life as a hitman who went into the witness protection program.

Julie Yorn will produce with DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson Killoran. Pic will be a co-production between Appian Way and the new production/management venture recently launched by Rick Yorn. Appian Way’s Aaron Criswell also will be involved as a producer.

The book is just being published by Little Brown, which acquired the title in an eight-house auction in 2007. Bazell, a medical intern, was in his hospital scrubs on the night shift as publishers waged a seven-figure fight for his first novel.

DiCaprio, who is Golden Globes-nominated for “Revolutionary Road,” most recently completed shooting “Shutter Island” for director Martin Scorsese at Paramount. Appian Way recently completed “Orphan” at Warner Bros., and is developing a film based on the anime classic “Akira” at WB.

For Regency, “Reaper” marks the latest deal since Hutch Parker joined Bob Harper to overhaul the slate. The “Beat the Reaper” purchase follows an acquisition of the Isaac Asimov sci-fi classic “The End of Eternity,” and “Mr. Romance,” a comedy that will be directed by “Four Christmases” helmer Seth Gordon.

Regal Literary repped the book.

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