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The Deal Report: May 20, 2005

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MOVIES George Clooney will do that smoothie thing he does so well in the dramatic thriller Michael Clayton (which his company will help produce). He’ll play (what else?) the title character, a New York lawyer known for his ability to clean up high-profile clients’ messy personal problems. . . .One of the Deal Report’s favorite books, Melissa Bank’s 1999 chick-lit breakthrough The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing, is finally getting the adaptation treatment: Sarah Michelle Gellar will put aside the cult and kiddie fare to play a flesh-and-blood book editor who thinks her problems are solved when she falls in love with a much older man — but, of course, they’ve only just begun. . . .In other literary adaptation news (who says Hollywood types don’t read?), Helen Hunt will star in and make her feature directorial debut with Then She Found Me, based on Elinor Lipman’s novel about a woman whose birth mother upends her life after her adoptive parents die. Hunt’s been working to get the project off the ground for seven years, but, she says, ”I should probably stop talking about how long I’ve worked on it — people are going to think it should be Crime and Punishment.”

BOOKS Augusten Burroughs, on the other hand, is working fast: He just optioned the rights to his next memoir to Universal Pictures without having written a word of it yet. ”Isn’t that funny?” he says. ”In effect, they bought air.” Burroughs wrote about his crazy mom in best-seller Running With Scissors (Annette Bening’s playing her in the film version that just wrapped), and he’ll tackle his paternal issues in this yet-untitled work. ”In the last six years of my father’s life — he died a year and a half ago — I really got to know him,” he says. ”So it’ll start there, with this touching relationship, and then you’ll read a chapter from earlier in my life that’s just like, How could he ever talk to this man again? It’s going to be horrible and funny and redemptive.” As for a title? ”I’m just calling it my dead daddy book for now.”