Sony rounds bases with ‘Moneyball’

Chervin to pen adaptation about Oakland A's Beane

Sony Pictures has acquired the Michael Lewis bestseller “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game.”

Book is based on the life of Billy Beane, the Oakland A’s general manager who has assembled a contending ballclub despite having a payroll much lower than other teams.

Stan Chervin has been hired to write the script.

This is the first deal Michael De Luca has put together since joining SPE. He will team with producer Rachael Horovitz on the pic.

It is SPE’s second major recent nonfiction purchase, following Richard A. Clarke’s White House memoir “Against All Enemies.”

De Luca, who’s about to move into SPE office space, sparked to a story of a guy who gets a second chance to excel in the game he loves.

“Sports movies make great metaphors about life, and Billy Beane’s success is a great underdog story,” De Luca said.

That Beane became a success in baseball wasn’t unexpected — the surprise was that he didn’t make it on the field. A first-round draft choice by the New York Mets, Beane was a touted outfielder who didn’t pan out.

“I sobered up pretty quickly, right when they started throwing sliders down and away, and I couldn’t hit them,” he said. “But I had never seen playing baseball as the end goal. I always thought that building a team was more interesting than being part of one.”

Beane seemed a bit bashful at the prospect of becoming a matinee idol, probably because his canonization as a world class dealmaker by Lewis has made other teams wary of trading with him, for fear they’ll look like suckers.

“It’s frustrating that so many people didn’t realize that this was Michael’s book and not something we solicited,” Beane said. Horovitz, who will produce through her Specialty Films shingle, reteams with De Luca after they worked together as New Line execs on such projects as “About Schmidt.”

Horovitz also enlisted Longfellow Pictures principals Andrew Karsch and Sidney Kimmel, for whom she works as a producer, to be exec producers.

“This is not going to simply be a baseball biopic,” she said. “Billy is a larger-than-life character like a Jerry Maguire or Randall Patrick McMurphy, and there will be a lot of humor in the film.”