Heist novels set for bigscreen

Amber Entertainment has signed a partnership with Gerald Browne, one of the most prolific authors of the ’80s and ’90s, to develop three of his heist novels: “19 Purchase Street,” “West 47th” and “Stone 588.”

Browne’s producing on all three projects and has penned the screenplays for “19 Purchase Street” and “West 47th.” Amber’s out to directors on both.

The deal’s in line with the strategy followed by 2-year-old Amber — headed by former New Line execs Ileen Maisel, Mark Ordesky and Jane Fleming along with Lawrence Elman. Amber’s approach has been to acquire and convert recognizable properties such as novels by Judy Blume and Jackie Collins into films, with the authors becoming partners in the productions.

“I like the way they’ve set up their business model, and I’ve known Ileen since 1982 when ‘Purchase Street’ she was in development at Fox,” Browne told Variety. “She was so enthusiastic about these projects. They made it easy for me.”Browne said the option on “19 Purchase Street” had reverted to him during the 1980s. Story’s set at a New York money-laundering operation as a pair of lovers plot a heist in a tale of greed, murder and revenge.

“West 47th,” set in New York’s Diamond District, focuses on a professional recoverer of stolen jewelry and his efforts to regain $6 million in gems taken from an Iranian couple. “Stone 588″ is centered a stolen crystal with healing power, also set against the background of the Diamond District.

Amber’s Maisel and Elman are teamed with Julian Fellowes (“Gosford Park”) to produce Carlo Carlei’s “Romeo and Juliet” with Douglas Booth and Hailee Steinfeld in the leads. It’s in post on “Possession” with Haxan with “Blair Witch” director Eduardo Sanchez helming from a script he co-wrote with Jamie Nash.

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