Strange Thing Called Prom: N.Y. Times Article Optioned by Miramax

July 10, 2008–Miramax will develop a movie from “This Strange Thing Called Prom,” a Brooke Hauser article published in the New York Times on June 22.

The article follows the prom adventures of high school seniors who came to Brooklyn from Senegal, Venezuela, Tibet, Haiti, Poland and Gabon). The experiences of the students, who looked forward to taking part in their first prom, ranged from magical to miserable.

It is the 15th movie option deal that the paper has participated in since signing two years ago with ICM's Todd Hoffman and Chris Silbermann. The goal is to participate financially in film and TV projects that spring from the pages of its newspaper. The paper splits the money with its writers.

Miramax hasn't attached a producer or writer, and hasn't bought rights from the kids.

Paramount and JJ Abrams recently optioned “Mystery on Fifth Avenue,” an article about a house custom-built to include a mystery whose clues were part of the architecture.

Overbrook partners Will Smith and James Lassiter optioned “Supplier Under Scrutiny on Aging Arms for Afghans,” about an investigation into a Miami-based company that won a federal contract to arm Afghanistan's army and police.

Universal and Jack Black optioned “In College Football Big Paydays for Humiliation,” the tale of a college that were paid premiums to send its subpar football team to play powerhouse programs.

The Times also participated, when Paramount bought “The Fall of the Warrior King” for Stephen Belber to adapt for Tom Cruise. Universal spent seven figures in a fierce bidding war to acquire “Refugees Find Hostility and Hope on the Soccer Field” in 2007.

The N.Y. Times is the first publication to be proactive, but the Wall Street Journal aims to share in rights deals that come from its articles.

Like the WSJ, the NYT owns the copyright to newspaper content. The NYT doesn't usually share in screen sales from its Sunday magazine; while the company now tries to secure those rights in contracts, agents of seasoned contributors and high-end writers strike it from the contract, sources said.