EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures has bought the rights to the yet-unpublished young-adult fantasy novel An Ember In The Ashes for veteran producer Mark Johnson, the force behind their hugely successful Chronicles Of Narnia film franchise. Johnson, whose has a stellar reputation for finding and developing literary material for the screen (The Notebook), had an inside track on An Ember In The Ashes. Haroon “Boon” Saleem, apparently mentioned to Johnson, whom he worked with while at Walden Media, that his sister — a former editor at The Washington Post – had written a book geared to the young-adult market and he thought Johnson should read it. The producer took it to the studio and they closed the deal.
Saleem, who oversaw the development of the third Narnia film, 2010′s The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, will receive a producing credit when the film makes it to the screen. The story, written under the pseudonym L.S. London, has been described as Romeo and Juliet meets Games of Thrones and set in its own world which is half ancient Rome and half Mecca. The project will go to publishers early next year with a big advantage of already having the screen rights sold.
Saleem was a former creative executive at Overbrook Entertainment who moved on to socially conscious pursuits. He produced the pre-show telecast for Stand Up for Cancer; founded of the grassroots political organization Generation for Change, which raised more than $1.6 million for the 2008 Obama campaign; and is still around to get young professionals in Los Angeles involved in social causes. Nice. CAA and Alexandra Machinist at Janklow & Nesbit handled the deal.