NEW YORK — Fox 2000 has optioned the Laurence Shames novel “Virgin Heat” for low against mid-six figures, with the project being developed as a starring vehicle for Drew Barrymore. Lawrence Bender will produce, and Barrymore and Nancy Juvonen will be executive producers.

The novel is the story of a young Mafia princess who runs away from home to find the only man she ever loved, a handsome young Mafia guy who mistakenly informed on her mob boss father. Unfortunately for the girl, she’s followed to Key West by her father’s henchman and a humorous chase ensues as the girl tries not only to find her true love, but to keep him from wearing cement shoes.

A screen sale is not virgin territory for the novel, which was published last year by Hyperion. It initially was optioned by Columbia for Jim Brooks and Tea Leoni. It stalled there until the option lapsed. Leoni, last seen in “Deep Impact,” has tried to get it set up on her own, sources said, but Fox 2000 took it off the market for Barrymore.

Sterling Lord Literistic’s Jody Hotchkiss sold the screen rights in conjunction with lit agent Stuart Krichevsky. William Morris reps Barrymore and Bender.