December 11, 2009 / 8:18 AM / 9 years ago

J.J. Abrams eyes "Great World" book

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Colum McCann’s National Book Award-winning novel “Let the Great World Spin” is on its way to a movie deal.

Director J.J. Abrams poses on the red carpet during the German premiere of the movie "Star Trek" in Berlin, April 16, 2009. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

J.J. Abrams is working out a rights deal to spin a feature from McCann’s sprawling period piece. Abrams would produce — with McCann adapting the screenplay — at Paramount, where his Bad Robot production company resides.

“Spin,” McCann’s fifth novel, was published in June by Random House. Built around Philippe Petit’s real-life “artistic crime of the century” — when the Frenchman illegally walked a tightrope strung between the World Trade Center towers in August 1974 — “Spin” follows an ensemble cast of characters struggling in New York.

The book’s characters include a young Irish monk living among prostitutes in the Bronx; a group of Park Avenue mothers mourning their sons, killed in Vietnam; and a 38-year-old grandmother walking the streets with her teenage daughter. McCann’s novel, which has drawn comparisons to Don DeLillo’s work, serves as an allegory of 9/11 and its aftermath.

“Spin” joins a handful of other projects Abrams has in the works as a producer that spring from literary source material and do not feed his typical genre obsessions. Also at Bad Robot and Paramount are an untitled diamond-heist project derived from a Joshua Davis article in Wired and “Mystery on Fifth Avenue,” from a New York Times article about a family’s Manhattan apartment that was designed as a giant puzzle.

The Dublin-born McCann co-wrote with director Gary McKendry the short film “Everything in This Country Must,” which was nominated for the best live-action short film Oscar in 2004. The author teaches at Hunter College in New York.

McCann also is the author of “Zoli,” “Dancer,” “This Side of Brightness,” “Fishing the Sloe-Black River” and “Songdogs.”

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