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UA & Hart Sharp belly up for ‘Hips’

Scribe Sichel will adapt Soffee memoir

Belly dancing may become the next bigscreen phenomenon, with United Artists and Hart Sharp Entertainment teaming to develop a film from Anna Thomas Soffee’s comic memoir “Snake Hips,” about how the Middle Eastern shimmy helped heal the wounds of a bad bust-up.

Sylvia Sichel, who wrote the 1997 Fine Line release “All Over Me” and one of the stories in HBO’s “If These Walls Could Talk 2,” has signed to adapt the book.

Hart Sharp chiefs John Hart and Jeff Sharp and head of production Robert Kessel will produce, with Nina Wolarsky serving as co-producer and Michael Hogan as exec producer.

Published by Chicago Review Press in 2002 with the subtitle “Belly-Dancing and How I Found True Love,” Soffee’s book chronicles her return to live with her parents in Richmond, Va., after being dumped by her tattoo artist boyfriend. Stumbling upon belly-dancing classes, the author — a nerdy, rock ‘n’ roll-loving schoolteacher — finds distraction from self-pity, a way to reconnect with her Lebanese roots, a rediscovered sense of passion and, ultimately, love.

” ‘Snake Hips’ is an original story that appealed to us instantly,” said UA prexy Bingham Ray, who announced the deal.

Added Hart Sharp: ” ‘Snake Hips’ offers a unique world of charmingly offbeat characters and cultural insight.”

UA and Hart Sharp most recently collaborated on the Christmas release “Nicholas Nickleby,” directed by Doug McGrath. In the Toronto fest, UA has Michael Winterbottom’s “Code 46,” Afghan helmer Siddiq Barmak’s “Osama” and Peter Hedges’ “Pieces of April,” which opens domestically in October.

“Snake Hips” marks the second new feature project announced for Hart Sharp this week, following “The Night Listener,” adapted from the novel by Armistead Maupin and being directed by Patrick Stettner (“The Business of Strangers”).