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U raising the dead

Buys tyro's script for Platt to produce

Universal Pictures has picked producer-turned-writer Michael Besman’s first screenplay, “Lightening,” for Marc Platt to produce.

The “Sixth Sense”-like spiritual drama is based on Sheri Reynolds’ 1997 novel “A Gracious Plenty,” which Besman optioned out of his own pocket before penning the adaptation himself.

“Lightening” traces the lives, deaths and events surrounding an eclectic group of dead characters who haunt a Southern small-town cemetery and their connections to a living man, a recluse who was disfigured in a childhood scalding, who tends their plots.

Universal made an unspecified pre-emptive bid for the project soon after Besman’s reps at CAA sent out the screenplay late last week. As part of the deal U acquires the spec as well as the underlying rights to Reynolds’ novel.

Besman, whose producing credits include “The Opposite of Sex” and “Seven Years in Tibet,” is a familiar face to Platt and Universal co-chair Stacey Snider, who worked with him when the duo were production execs at TriStar. U’s Allison Brecker brought the project into the studio and will oversee its development.

Besman is producing “Bounce,” which stars Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow under Don Roos’ helm for Miramax.