Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: UPDATED: In a pre-holiday bidding battle, Annapurna Pictures has paid $200,000 vs. $500,000 (escalating to $1 million depending on the budget) for Where’d You Go Bernadette, a new serio-comic novel by Maria Semple. Color Force’s Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson will produce with Megan Ellison.  I’ve also been told Annapurna Pictures is in negotiations with the writers of (500) Days Of Summer, Scott Neustadter & Michael Weber to adapt the book. The book focuses on a woman named Bernadette in Seattle, a mother who has gone missing, leaving her teenage daughter to pick up the pieces. The book is told from a number of vantage points, including emails and school letters, a stylish flourish that impressed buyers. The deal was made by UTA, for Semple and her lit agent Anna Stein at Aitken Alexander.

The book hatched a bidding battle, and the agents assigned the books to Hunger Games producer Jacobson and Twilight Saga producers Temple Hill. I’ve heard that CBS Films and New Regency were in the middle of this too, but Ellison, who financed Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, was not to be denied. It has gone to press four times and there are 60,000 copies in all formats (including e-books sold and hard copies in print).  Semple also has been a writer on several TV shows including Arrested Development and Mad About You.

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