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Bel Air travels with ‘Steinbeck’

Shells out mid six against $1 mil for drama

Steve Reuther’s Warner Bros.-based Bel Air Prods. has snapped up the drama “Steinbeck’s Point of View” for producer Mark Johnson for a mid-six figures against a million-plus backend.

First-timer Brandon Camp is attached to direct the spec script, which he penned with partner Mike Thompson. Thompson will produce along with Johnson.

The deal was concluded over lunch Wednesday, just hours after the project went on the market. Bel Air exec VP of production Alex Schwartz is credited with bringing the project into the company.

Several studios were known to have been impressed with the spiritually oriented romance, which is described as tonally similar to “Field of Dreams.” It tells of a San Francisco man sick with cancer who returns to land that once belonged to his grandfather. The trip turns into a spiritual awakening where he learns to redirect his life.

Camp and Thompson co-wrote United Artists’ “Dragonfly,” which Johnson is producing and Tom Shadyac is in talks to direct. They brought “Steinbeck” to Johnson, who developed it with them before seeking a studio deal.

Johnson said the script would likely undergo a polish before going out to actors. Reuther couldn’t be reached for comment.

Reuther’s company is backed by Warner Bros. and Canal Plus. Warners releases his productions in all territories, except in France, Spain and Germany.

The Oscar-winning Johnson, who has three films due to open theatrically this fall, is currently shooting Alcon Ent.’s “My Dog Skip.” He also developed the hour-long drama pilot “L.A. Docs” which CBS picked up for Monday nights at 10.

Camp and Thompson’s previous credits include three as-yet-unproduced projects: “Double Tyke,” in development with Larry Gordon at Disney; “Sticks and Stones” at Paramount; and the “Benji” sequel.

The scribe team is repped by Emile Gladstone of Broder Kurland Webb Uffner Agency and attorney Karl Austen.