'The Road' scribe destined for 'Crossing'

Joe Penhall to adapt John Williams' Western novel for Focus

Joe Penhall is following the road to "Butcher's Crossing."

The screenwriter who adapted Cormac McCarthy's novel "The Road" has been hired to adapt John Williams' 1960 Western novel for Focus Features. The project is part of a two-year, first-look deal that Focus cut with Sam Mendes, who might direct.

Set during the 1870s, the adventure tale centers on a man who drops out of Harvard and heads west to the small Kansas town of the title. There, he joins the search for a great buffalo herd.

Mendes and his Neal Street Prods. partners Pippa Harris and Caro Newling are producing with Polsky Films' Gabe and Alan Polsky.

Penhall, repped by Endeavor and the Curtis Brown Group in the U.K., also is working on the Fox 2000 adaptation "Deep Water" and an adaptation of his own play, "Landscape With Weapons," for "Road" director John Hillcoat.

He also wrote the screenplays for "Some Voices" and "Enduring Love."