U goes for ‘A Walk’ with Jersey

Alcoholic ex-cop Scudder to return to screen

Universal Pictures has acquired the feature film rights to Lawrence Block’s novel “A Walk Among the Tombstones” for Jersey Films to produce.

The studio also signed “Get Shorty” and “Little Man Tate” scribe Scott A. Frank to adapt Block’s 1992 thriller, which he also will produce with Jersey.

As part of a separate negotiation, Universal struck a deal with attorney John Hyde for control of the underlying rights to the novel’s Mathew Scudder character, an alcoholic ex-cop whose post-force avocation is doing favors for friends who often take him deep into the underbelly of New York. Hyde will exec produce “A Walk Among the Tombstones.”

Scudder is one of the best-known mystery characters portrayed in a series of books by Block. Hyde had possession of the sequel character rights, which stemmed from the 1986 film “8 Million Ways to Die,” based on another Block thriller that featured Scudder.

The late Hal Ashby helmed that pic, for which Oliver Stone received a co-writer credit.

In “A Walk Among the Tombstones,” Scudder is called into service after a heroin kingpin’s wife is kidnapped. Despite his payment of a hefty ransom, he receives her back in pieces and Scudder, believing that even drug dealers deserve justice, takes the case and goes after the killers.

Other films made from Block’s novels include the 1987 film “Burglar” and 1972’s “Nightmare Honeymoon,” based on his novel “Deadly Honeymoon.”

Block’s deal was brokered by CAA on behalf of his literary agent, Knox Burger. CAA also repped Frank, Hyde and Universal-based Jersey Films in the deal.