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Hollywood has gobbled up book rights during the pandemic. Here’s why

latimes.com – Wednesday October 7, 2020

Author Rumaan Alam kept his expectations low, even as the film rights to his upcoming book “Leave the World Behind” became the center of a bidding contest among Hollywood studios this summer.

During two brisk weeks in July, the Brooklyn-based novelist kept interrupting his family vacation on Fire Island to field phone calls from agents, producers and executives. Sam Esmail, creator of USA Network’s “Mr. Robot,” was on board to direct a feature based on the socially conscious thriller. Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington had agreed to star and produce. Studios including Netflix, Apple and MGM were making offers.

Alam remained skeptical until that Monday when, while on the beach with his husband and two sons, he got the call from Michelle Weiner, head of Creative Artists Agency’s books department, who was handling the auction, saying they’d scored a deal with Netflix.

“I was waiting for the day when Michelle’s assistant would have to send me, like, a consolation bottle of Champagne,” Alam said. “I was sitting there in the sand kind of dumbfounded.”

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