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WB, Bel-Air hit ‘Street’

Pitch deal could reach $2.5 mil with bonuses

NEW YORK — Warner Bros. and Bel-Air have paid $1.5 million upfront for “Street Boys,” a novel to be written by author Lorenzo Carcaterra. It’s believed to be one of the biggest pitch sales in which the studio has ever been involved.

The film reteams Barry Levinson and Carcaterra, who wrote “Sleepers.” Levinson is aboard to direct, and he’ll produce with Baltimore Spring Creek partner Paula Weinstein, Bel-Air chief Steve Reuther and Lou Pitt. Carcaterra will write the script.

Carcaterra pitched “Boys” to a few bidders during a trip to L.A. last week, and WB and Bel Air snapped up the rights late Friday night. Aside from the upfront guarantee, the deal calls for production bonuses that could put Carcaterra’s total take at $2.5 million.

Novel is based on a true event in World War II in which the children of an Italian town, their fathers off fighting in the war, banded together to defeat a Nazi tank battalion that would have flattened their homes. In the fictionalized version that Carcaterra will begin writing immediately, the children will be brought together and taught to fight by an American soldier. Ballantine plans to publish the novel in spring or summer 2002.

“Lorenzo told me he was working on a new novel and when he ran it down for me I thought it sounded like a good movie idea,” said Levinson. “He pitched it at the studio and the other Lorenzo liked it as well.” The latter Lorenzo is WB worldwide production prexy Lorenzo di Bonaventura who, with Bel-Air, quickly made the deal.

Carcaterra’s books have done well for him on the movie circuit. He was paid a total of $2.1 million for “Sleepers,” got $500,000 against $2.2 million for “Apaches” from Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and made a TV miniseries deal with ABC and Revolution’s Joe Roth for his latest novel, “Gangster,” which will pay seven figures if the network makes a mini being slotted for a February airing

His only book not under option is the first, “A Safe Place,” a memoir about his father.

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