U buys Dickey’s ‘Sea’ for Roth

Universal Pictures has purchased the film rights to James Dickey’s still-unpublished novel “To the White Sea” for producer Richard Roth.

“Sea,” Dickey’s third novel, is an adventure-suspense story about an American gunner whose plane is shot down over Tokyo during a bombing raid in World War II.

Poet Dickey is best known for his first novel, “Deliverance,” the basis for the John Boorman filmstarring Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight.

Roth said, “I first heard about the story for this novel several years ago, and because it was James Dickey and because the story was so fascinating, I kept calling the book agent over the years.”

Roth’s persistence paid off when the agent recently shipped over an early galley. The indie producer brought the project to U, which then snapped it up and will be the distributor.

The book, written in a first-person narrative, follows the bomber pilot’s struggle to escape out of Japan. It will be published next month by Houghton Mifflin.

Roth, whose films include “Julia,””Manhunter” (based on novelist Thomas Harris’ “Red Dragon”), “Blue Velvet” and “In Country,” said Dickey will not write the screen adaptation for “White Sea.” The producer has yet to firm a scripter, although he says he has someone in mind.

Among his other projects, Roth is working on a love story with novelist Bret Easton Ellis (“Less Than Zero”), and is developing “Two Lives,” a feature now being written by Alvin Sargent.

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