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Lion takes ‘Hostage’

Willis to star in adaptation of Crais thriller

MGM has optioned “Hostage,” the latest thriller by novelist and screenwriter Robert Crais, for Bruce Willis and Arnold Rifkin’s Cheyenne Prods.

Studio took the novel off the market for high six figures against $1.5 million — a steep price in today’s sluggish book market.

Deal also comes on the heels of Crais’ new three-book, $3 million publishing contract with Doubleday, inked early last week.

Willis is on board to star and to produce with Rifkin. Crais, a prominent TV writer before gaining steam as a novelist, will adapt “Hostage.”

Crais is known for his mystery series featuring detective Elvis Cole, the last of which was “L.A. Requiem.”

Like his previous novel “Demolition Angel,” however, “Hostage” doesn’t feature Cole. It’s the story of a police officer still wracked by guilt from a prior stint as a negotiator, when a hostage situation went horribly awry. When a Mob accountant is taken hostage on his beat, he must negotiate the standoff, even as his own family is taken by Mob.

Crais’ rising stock as an author of novels ready-made for film adaptation owes something to his background in the industry and his sleek, self-contained plots.

But Rifkin says that high concept or no, his shingle will take care in honing a screenplay from the 582-page tome.

“It’s perilous if you assume that it’s that cookie-cutter a process,” Rifkin told Daily Variety. “We’re excited both by what’s in the book as well as what could be there.”

Crais, who’s repped by the Aaron Priest Agency and Broder Kurland Webb Uffner, is also adapting “Demolition Angel” for producer Laurence Mark and Columbia.