U corrals Eidson’s ‘Standoff’

Universal Pictures has purchased Tom Eidson’s Western novel “The Standoff” for studio-based Stampede Entertainment, sources said Tuesday. Ron Underwood (“City Slickers”) is attached to direct the project.

While financial details were not available, sources said the deal — brokered by Eidson’s agent, Jody Hotchkiss of Sterling-Lord Literistic — includes option and purchase prices in the “high six figures.””The Standoff” has not been published yet.

Described by Stampede managing partner Nancy Roberts as being in the tradition of “Shane” and “Unforgiven,””The Standoff” is a Western set in the 1800s about a man who reluctantly rescues three nuns and seven children from a band of Apache Indians.

Universal, which was the only studio to see the book, immediately made a preemptive buy of the property. The deal was spearheaded by Stampede’s Roberts and VP Lou Malacarne and Universal’s senior VP Tom Craig.

“The Standoff” is now the subject of competing bids by publishers Random House and Putnam. Eidson is president/CEO of public relations firm Hill & Knowlton Inc.

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