J.J. Abrams eyes 'Great World' book

Novel follows cast of characters struggling in New York

Colum McCann's National Book Award-winning novel "Let the Great World Spin" looks to be coming to rest at Bad Robot.

J.J. Abrams is working out a rights deal to spin a feature from McCann's sprawling period piece. Abrams would produce -- with McCann adapting the screenplay -- at Paramount, where Bad Robot resides. The Gotham Group, which reps McCann, also is producing.

"Spin," McCann's fifth novel, was published in June by Random House. Built around Philippe Petit's real-life "artistic crime of the century" -- when the Frenchman illegally walked a tightrope strung between the World Trade Center towers in August 1974 -- "Spin" follows an ensemble cast of characters struggling throughout New York.

The book's characters include a young Irish monk living among prostitutes in the Bronx; a group of mothers mourning their sons, killed in Vietnam, in a Park Avenue apartment; and a 38-year-old grandmother walking the streets with her teenage daughter. With comparisons to Don DeLillo's work, McCann's novel serves as an allegory of 9/11 and its aftermath.

"Spin" joins a handful of other projects Abrams has in the works as a producer that spring from literary source material and do not feed his typical genre obsessions. Also at Bad Robot and Paramount are an untitled diamond-heist project derived from a Joshua Davis article in Wired and "Mystery on Fifth Avenue," from a New York Times article about a family's Manhattan apartment that was designed as a giant puzzle.

Paramount in July will release the original Bad Robot comedy "Morning Glory," starring Harrison Ford, Rachel McAdams and Diane Keaton.

The Dublin-born McCann co-wrote with director Gary Mc¬Kendry the short film "Everything in This Country Must," which was nominated for the best live-action short film Oscar in 2004. The author teaches at Hunter College in New York.

McCann also is the author of "Zoli," "Dancer," "This Side of Brightness," "Fishing the Sloe-Black River" and "Songdogs."