NEW YORK — Paul Newman is negotiating to play the lead role in a film adaptation of Richard Russo’s book “Empire Falls.”Scott Steindorf, who will produce the pic, is shopping the project around town. Newman, who starred in the Robert Benton film “Nobody’s Fool” based on the Russo novel, will only do the part subject to script approval. Russo may adapt the screenplay from his own novel. “Empire Falls” is a small town blue-collar story set in Maine. ICM reps Newman; Russo is repped by Joel Gotler at AMG/Renaissance.