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H20 books Russian tale

Company nabs rights to Politkovskaya trio

H2O Motion Pictures has acquired rights to three books by Anna Politkovskaya and plans to develop a feature about the Russian journalist shot to death in a suspected contract killing in Moscow last fall.

Launch of a Politkovskaya project comes on the heels of dueling Hollywood projects about Alexander Litvinenko, the former KGB officer who accused Russian leader Vladimir Putin of ordering Politkovskaya’s assassination and was later poisoned.

Politkovskaya’s books include “A Russian Diary,” an account of contemporary Russia under the current government; “Putin’s Russia,” which details Putin as an individual and his mishandling of the Moscow theater hostage crisis in 2002; and “A Severed Head,” an unpublished manuscript about her journey into the violent province of Chechnya.

H2O’s an international independent production and distribution company with offices in London, Amsterdam and Los Angeles. It handles production, sales, marketing and financing for eight to 12 features annually.

Deal comes as Columbia and Michael Mann race against Warner Bros. and Johnny Depp to mount a film about Litvinenko. Col reached a deal in January for rights to “Death of a Dissident,” a book that Alex Goldfarb and the subject’s widow, Marina Litvinenko, are co-writing; Red Wagon partners Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher will produce with Mann’s Forward Pass shingle. Mann is attached to direct.

WB, Depp and Graham King’s Initial Entertainment already had made an option deal to base a Litvinenko film on “Sasha’s Story: The Life and Death of a Russian Spy,” by Alan Cowell, London bureau chief for the New York Times.

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