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Ziskin sets Gotham digs; Kareem dunks deal

Laura Ziskin, who pumped new life and Hollywood cash into the New York book market as head of Fox 2000’s East Coast development office in the mid-1990s, has opened a new Gotham outpost and tapped Jason Anthony as veep of creative affairs.

The recently formed Laura Ziskin Prods. has a first-look deal with Columbia and a long-form deal with HBO, and Anthony’s office — located in the HBO building at midtown — will serve as a development source for books, magazine articles, plays and other material. Anthony will also scour the Gotham literary scene for writers off the beaten track.

“I was originally attracted to the position because of Laura’s success, both as a producer and as a studio executive, with material that doesn’t come from the usual avenues,” said Anthony. “I think we both enjoy the challenge of finding and developing interesting material not necessarily on everybody’s radar.”

That approach at Fox 2000 allowed Ziskin to option such books as “Fight Club,” which she snared for five figures, as well as “To Die For” and “Animal Husbandry,” now in production with Ashley Judd in the lead.

Anthony previously worked in the now-defunct Gotham office of MGM; as director of development at Mandalay, where he reeled in Jacquelyne Mitchard’s “The Deep End of the Ocean”; and as veep of creative affairs at Sonnenfeld-Josephson, where he was responsible for landing such projects as “Chippendales,” “Vespers” and “Northeast Kingdom.” He has also written a book on personal finance, forthcoming from Dutton/Plume.

Ziskin’s decision to open a Gotham development office at this juncture is risky. With the prospect of a writers strike looming, a panic has set in among many executives in New York who are scrambling to set up projects and attach writers before a strike freezes the development process.

But Ziskin told Daily Variety that she’s taking the long view.

“If there’s a great piece of material, people are going to want it,” she said. “It’s ever been thus.”

A SEASON ON THE RESERVATION,” Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s account of his yearlong sojourn as a basketball coach and teacher on an Apache reservation in Arizona, will be adapted for the screen.

Published by William Morrow last spring, the book has been optioned by Arthur MacKenzie of MacKenzie Prods., in association with Nicki Noxon and Paul Yamamoto at Four Two Nine Entertainment.

Noxon, Yamamoto and MacKenzie will produce the project and Abdul-Jabar is attached as an executive producer with Stanford Blum. Chris Cannan will pen the script.

It’s not yet clear whether the book will be adapted for TV or for the bigscreen. And casting calls have yet to go out for 7-foot-2-inch actors.

The deal was negotiated by Mickey Freiberg at The Artists Agency.

THE 1976 MGM CULT film “Logan’s Run” is staging a comeback — this time online.

William F. Nolan, co-author of the original Logan novel and sole author of the sequels “Logan’s World” and “Logan’s Search,” has inked a deal with Berkeley-based e-publisher Virtual Publishing Group to issue the Logan series online, in conjunction with a novelette, “Logan’s Return.” All will be downloadable via the company’s Web site, http://www.eBooks2Go.com. The original series will also be published in paperback.

The series is meant to capitalize on the “Logan’s Run” remake, a Joel Silver production now in development at Warner Bros. Skip Woods is scripting the story, which concerns a future society whose citizens are executed at the age of 21.

First published in 1967, “Logan’s Run” has remained in print ever since. “It’s a futuristic tale, and I’m using futuristic technology to release it,” Nolan told Daily Variety.

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