‘Tragic’ tale for Warners

Project follows lawsuit against Ford and Firestone

NEW YORK — Warner Bros. has acquired rights to Adam Pennenberg’s upcoming nonfiction book “Tragic Indifference” (aka “Blood Highways”) to be developed and produced by Michael Douglas’ production company Furthur Films as a starring vehicle for the actor.

Deal represents the first project to come out of the two-year first-look production pact Furthur set up earlier this year at Warners. Furthur will co-produce with New York-based company 78 Entertainment.

Further prexy of production Marcy Drogin and director of development James Lavigne will oversee the project; Kevin McCormick, exec VP of production at Warner Bros. Pictures, will oversee production for the studio with production exec Lauren Craniotes.

Pennenberg’s book will be published in November by Harper Collins. Described as a David vs. Goliath story with echoes of “Erin Brockovich” and “The Insider,” it chronicles a lawsuit brought by attorney Tab Turner against the Ford and Firestone corporations for negligence in connection with SUV rollovers and defective tires. Douglas will play Turner in the film.

SUV drama

The book focuses specifically on the case of Donna Bailey, who became a quadriplegic as a result of a near-fatal accident in a Ford SUV and sought only an admission of guilt and apology from the companies.

Deal was negotiated by Warner with Pennenberg’s reps at Endeavor in a package assembled by Furthur that includes film rights to the book as well as life rights of both Turner and Bailey. Furthur is now looking to attach a screenwriter.

In addition to “Tragic Indifference,” Furthur is developing the romantic comedy “As Told To . . .” at Warner, with Douglas attached to star as a professional basketball coach who falls in love with the ghostwriter of his autobiography. Tom Teicholz will produce, with Marc Klein currently working on a draft of the screenplay.

On Saturday at the Tribeca Film Festival, Furthur will premiere Andrew Fleming-directed comedy remake “The In-Laws,” starring Douglas and Albert Brooks, which Warner will release May 23. Pic was co-produced with Franchise Pictures.

Douglas and Furthur Films are repped by the William Morris Agency.

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