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Universal spinning ‘Wheel of Time’

Studio nabs film rights to Robert Jordan book

Universal Pictures has acquired film rights to the late Robert Jordan’s bestselling “The Wheel of Time” novel series in a seven-figure deal.

Adaptations of the fantasy tomes will begin with the first book in the cycle, “The Eye of the World.”

Rick Selvage and Larry Mondragon will produce for Red Eagle Entertainment, which published graphic novel adaptations of Jordan’s books.

“The Wheel of Time” follows, among its dozens of characters, Rand al’Thor, the latest incarnation of a force for good called “The Dragon.” Rand is born to fight an evil character called Shai’tan.

“Wheel of Time” books have sold 44 million copies worldwide and spawned computer, trading-card and role-playing games; a soundtrack; comicbooks; and numerous fan sites. The four most recent installments have reached No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list.

The property has been optioned before, notably in 2000, when NBC held the rights to make a miniseries based on “The Eye of the World.”

Jordan died last year at 58, but the final book in the series is still set for publication in fall 2009, with fellow fantasy scribe Brandon Sanderson writing the novel’s conclusion from Jordan’s notes and tapes.

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