Stories about rights-holders fall into two categories: either they’re the bully or the victim. Until recently, crime novelist Michael Connelly fell into the latter category. Michael Connelly finally has back his Hieronymous “Harry” Bosch character which appears in 15 of his 22 books. Harry Bosch is a brooding Los Angeles Police Department detective named, appropriately, after an early Dutch painter known for his eccentric visions of hell. And since 1995, Bosch has been in Hollywood development hell.
Freelance journalist Diane Haithman files this report for Deadline: Until very recently, Connelly, a one-time LA Times police reporter, had been locked in a years-long battle with Paramount over Harry Bosch. Connelly’s first two Harry Bosch books, Black Ice (1992) and The Black Echo (1993) were optioned by Paramount back in 1995. But Paramount never developed either book into a film, to Connelly’s big disappointment. Worse, Connelly had given Paramount ownership of the Harry Bosch character, so the other 13 books couldn’t be made into movies, either. In January of this year, the 15-year option finally expired and Connelly had a one-year window to buy back the rights – as long as he also paid Paramount back for “all out-of-pocket costs, advances and payments” incurred by the studio, plus interest.
But how much was that amount, exactly? In March, Connelly quietly sued the studio to seek what he felt was an accurate accounting of how much Paramount had spent on development in order to come up with an appropriate buy-back price before his window of opportunity closed again. Finally, the lawsuit settled in October just before it was headed to trial. “All I can say on the record is: ‘The case has been settled in a confidential agreement’,” Connelly tells Deadline freelance journalist Diane Haithman.
Because of the agreement, Connelly also can’t discuss what immediate Hollywood plans he has for Harry Bosch, but earlier this year Connelly told me that “Harry could have a life on TV”. “Just about every other year, I write a TV pilot,” Connelly revealed. “I want to get further into the [entertainment] business than writing books and then standing on the sidelines watching them be turned into a movie. I’d like to be more creative. And television really attracts me. But I have not been successful in that.” a decade ago, Connelly did have a TV show on the air – Level 9 about computer crime for the old UPN — but it only lasted a season. Since then, he’s written a handful of TV pilots for different networks or studios, but none have been made into series.
Meanwhile, shooting wrapped in August on Lakeshore Entertainment’s movie adaptation of Connelly’s 2005 novel The Lincoln Lawyer, starring Matthew McConaughey as cynical defense attorney Mickey Haller, a new character created by Connelly. The pic is scheduled for release on March 18th. Connelly’s latest novel, The Reversal, contains both the Bosch and Haller characters who work together. Connelly has had one other book made into a movie: Blood Work (2002), with Clint Eastwood as ex-FBI agent Terry McCaleb. Connelly won’t ever have to worry about getting that character back from anyone: McCaleb is already dead.