Universal picks up 'Rites of Men' spec

Thriller from Jonathan Herman being compared to 'Taken'

NEW YORK -- Universal has acquired the spec "Rites of Men," a dramatic thriller from writer Jonathan Herman that has drawn comparisons to "Taken."

Herman's script centers on a working-class single dad whose only son is murdered and must then set out on a quest to solve the killing.

Uni senior vp production Scott Bernstein is the exec who brought in and is in charge of the project at the studio; no producer has yet been attached.

The deal marks the second spec sale for Herman in less than a month. The writer, who is repped by WMA and Luber Roklin Entertainment, previously made a pre-emptive deal to sell his script "Conviction" to Warner Bros. and Silver Pictures.

That project centers on a former bank robber who is forced to go to undercover to nab his former protege.

The sale of "Rites" marks another deal in which a project is compared to "Taken." Several scripts making the rounds or landing deals have drawn comparisons to the $200 million Fox hit, including "Prisoners," Aaron Guzikowski's kidnapped-child tale to which Mark Wahlberg is attached.