Universal wins rights to ‘Breathe Deeply’

Susan Spencer-Wendel memoir goes for seven-figures

Universal Pictures has won a seven-figure bidding war for Susan Spencer-Wendel’s upcoming memoir “Breathe Deeply,” which follows the author on a life-affirming adventure upon receiving devastating news. Bret Witter will co-write the tome.

Publishing deal set the film industry abuzz when Spencer-Wendel, a former court reporter for the Palm Beach Post in Florida, sold the 12-page book proposal to Claire Wachtel at HarperCollins for more than $2 million. Agent Peter McGuigan of Foundry Literary + Media brokered the North American rights deal for Wendel, whose personal story was the recent focus of a Wall Street Journal article. Spencer-Wendel quit her job after being diagnosed last year with ALS, which forced the 44-year-old author to confront her own mortality.

Spencer-Wendel is expected to lose her power of speech and the ability to type soon, which is why bestselling author Witter (“Dewey”) came on to help her finish the book by October.

As she did with “Fifty Shades of Grey,” co-chair Donna Langley fought hard to make sure Universal acquired the movie rights, which were shopped by the Gersh Agency.