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HBO in the fast lane

Ziskin hits the road with 'Drive' adaptation

NEW YORK — HBO has signed Laura Ziskin to exec produce the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “How I Learned To Drive” as an original movie for HBO Pictures.

“Drive” author Paula Vogel is working on the screenplay, which Ziskin said will be completed in the next month. Once the script gets the go-ahead from HBO Films prexy Colin Callender, Ziskin said, she and Callender will hire the director and the actors. A spokeswoman for HBO declined to comment on the deal.

HBO is on a legit-theater kick, having just greenlit the script for “The Laramie Project” with Good Machine from Moises Kaufman, who’ll also direct the HBO movie version of the play, which deals with the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student in Wyoming (Daily Variety, Aug. 4).

HBO Films will turn two other Pulitzer Prize-winning plays into original movies: Margaret Edson’s “Wit,” starring Emma Thompson, under the direction of Mike Nichols; and “Dinner With Friends,” written by Donald Margulies. Ziskin is one of the executive producers of “Dinner With Friends,” along with Margo Lion and Daryl Roth.

Mary Louise Parker and David Morse headlined the original 1997 production of “How I Learned to Drive” at the Vineyard Theater in New York City. It’s a coming-of-age story about a young woman’s complicated relationship with her aunt’s husband.

Ziskin set up her own production company earlier this year after a stint as president of Fox 2000 Pictures. She was co-exec producer with George Clooney of CBS’ recent live remake of the doomsday thriller “Fail Safe.” She is also a producer on Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” feature, set for a 2001 release by Columbia Pictures.

Vogel is repped by Peter Franklin at William Morris.

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