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WB nabs Colombian hostage pitch

Di Bonaventura, Burns to produce thriller

Warner Bros. has acquired an untitled action thriller pitch about the rescue of 15 hostages from the Colombian jungle last summer. Peter Landesman has been set to write the script.

Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Scott Z. Burns will produce with McLarty Media, the showbiz consulting arm of D.C.-based international advisory firm McLarty Associates.

The film will focus on Operacion Jaque, a five-year plan to locate and rescue three Americans who had been captured in 2003 by Colombian guerilla group FARC. The covert effort involved numerous governments, diplomats and intelligence services and a vast network of spies, military advisers and soldiers plus high-tech surveillance measures.

WB becomes the second major studio to put a rescue film in development. Sony’s Screen Gems is working on “Operation Checkmate,” a drama being scripted by Jessica Postigo, with Simon Brand to direct. Though fellow captive, Ingrid Betancourt, signed with French lit agent Susanna Lea and CAA, she has not made a movie deal to date.

The WB film will rely heavily on McLarty Associates as a resource. The consulting group was involved in the entire operation, having been hired by Northrop Grumman, which employed the three Americans.

McLarty’s efforts were led by managing director Stephen Donehoo, the firm’s resident expert in Latin America’s Andean region. McLarty Media managing director Rich Klein was integral in plugging the company into the film package. Both Klein and Donehoo will be co-producers and McLarty is taking its first film production credit.

Landesman is a foreign correspondent for the New York Times Magazine. He most recently adapted the memoir of Mark Felt, the former FBI honcho who revealed himself to be the famed “Deep Throat” informant in the Watergate scandal, into a pic for Universal and Playtone.

“We’re fed so many post-9/11 movies filled with political ambiguity, but this story is unequivocally about good vs. evil, with a happy ending,” Landesman said. “FARC once represented an idea of freedom for peasants, but it became a purely evil narco-trafficking and hostage-taking mechanism.”

McLarty and Burns are repped by UTA; Landesman is repped by CAA.

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