Columbia says: Let's 'Eat'

Studio talks to cast of Par film in turnaround

Columbia is in negotiations to pick up rights to the best-seller "Eat, Pray, Love" in turnaround from Paramount.

Columbia also is making deals with the attached talent, including Julia Roberts, who would star, and Ryan Murphy, who would write and direct. Also in the mix are Brad Pitt and Dede Gardner, who would produce through their Plan B shingle.

The project is based on Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir "Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia," published by Viking in February 2006.

The story centers on a married woman who realizes she is not living the life she wants. She divorces and sets off on a journey around the world.

Paramount picked up movie rights for Plan B in 2006, and Roberts joined soon after, followed by Murphy, the creator of FX's "Nip/ Tuck," who made his directorial debut on 2006's "Running With Scissors."

The turnaround also is attracting attention in the wake of the success of "Twilight," a book property originally developed at Paramount, which let it go when commercial prospects were deemed slim.

Columbia is doing due diligence to make sure there is a clear chain of title on "Eat." In the aftermath of the "Watchmen" court case, most studios are taking extra care to ensure that the rights they acquire are locked up tight. (partialdiff)
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