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Clooney buys Grisham book rights
- Star's role undecided

Los Angeles, Dec. 7 (Reuters): Actor and filmmaker George Clooney has teamed up with Warner Bros’ specialty studio to buy the movie rights to The Innocent Man, the first non-fiction book by best-selling novelist John Grisham.

The deal, initially reported by Hollywood trade paper Daily Variety, was confirmed yesterday by a spokeswoman for Warner Independent Pictures.

Subtitled: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town, Grisham’s latest book tells the true story of a former baseball player, Ron Williamson, who spent 11 years on Oklahoma’s death row wrongly convicted of rape and murder. Terms of the book deal were not disclosed by the studio.

Variety reported that Grisham will be paid a seven-figure sum for rights to his book, and receive a share of gross receipts from the film if it gets made.

The movie would be produced by Smoke House, the company co-owned by Clooney, 45, and his long-time friend and collaborator, Grant Heslov. The pair have a “first-look” production and development deal with Warner Bros, and their last movie together, Good Night, and Good Luck, was also released by the studio’s art-house division, Warner Independent Pictures.

Clooney and Heslov shared an Academy Award nomination for their Good Night, and Good Luck screenplay, and Clooney was also nominated as best director for that film. He won an Oscar for his supporting role in the political thriller Syriana. The Warner spokeswoman said it had not been decided whether Clooney would direct or star in The Innocent Man.

Published by Random House in October, Innocent Man marks the first work of non-fiction by Grisham, who has had a string of crime and courtroom novels made into films, including The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client and Runaway Jury.

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