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WMA inks McMurtry and Ossana

Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist/screenwriter Larry McMurtry and his partner Diana Ossana have signed with the William Morris Agency for film and television representation. The Tucson-based author of such book-to-screen classics as “The Last Picture Show” and “Terms of Endearment” was formerly represented by the late Irving (Swifty) Lazar.

“There are already new areas of the business that we’re moving Diana and Larry into,” said William Morris president Jerry Katzman, who will oversee the pair’s career.

“For example we’ve just put them into one new project: They’re writing a feature based on ‘Father Knows Best’ for a major studio.”

Integral part

Although McMurtry has steered clear of Hollywood, the 57-year-old author played an integral part in rekindling the industry’s romance with the Western. In 1989, the eight-hour CBS miniseries based on his novel “Lonesome Dove” averaged a 26.1 rating/39 share. And last fall, CBS’ seven-hour sequel, “Return to Lonesome Dove”– a project McMurtry wasn’t involved with — nabbed a 16.4/25 share.

These small-screen successes, and the big B.O. of “Dances With Wolves” and “Unforgiven,” have spawned a stampede of oaters that are still glutting the theaters.

With Ossana, McMurtry has completed the screenplays “Pretty Boy Floyd” for Weintraub Prods. at Warner Bros. and “The Stand Off” for Stampede Prods. at Universal.

The team is currently writing a six-hour prequel to”Lonesome Dove,” entitled “The Streets of Laredo.” They will also executive produce this RHI Entertainment Inc. production for CBS.

New York-based agent Andrew Wylie of Wylie, Aitken and Stone will continue to represent the couple’s literary interests.

Their legal representation is with Robert Thorne of Loeb and Loeb.

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