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BOOK IT

Times Staff Writer

The book

Trilogy “Queen of Babble,” “Queen of Babble in the Big City” and “Queen of Babble Gets Hitched”

by Meg Cabot

The buyer

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Jeff Sharp, president and chief executive of Sharp Independent

The deal

Sharp Independent, a New York-based independent film production company, is optioning the rights to Cabot’s bestselling novels about the adventures of a big-city girl with a gift for gab, a series aimed at the teen to 20s market.

The players

Cabot, represented by William Contardi from Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents and Laura Langlie. Sharp, who has produced “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Proof” and other films. The trilogy is published by HarperCollins, which recently announced a deal with Sharp to develop films from the company’s titles.

The back story

As “Gossip Girl” and similar properties generate media heat, Hollywood’s hunger to acquire and adapt books for the young adult, or YA, market is intensifying. But the goal, as shown by Sharp’s deal for Cabot’s trilogy, is not just to make one great movie: Producers want to find the next big “Harry Potter” franchise, a literary property that could spawn more than one film.

Cabot’s books are appealing because she’s an internationally known, brand-name author and there have been two screen adaptations from “The Princess Diaries,” her best-known work.

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Sharp is betting that Lizzie Nichols, the protagonist of the “Queen of Babble” series, may be the next Princess Mia. She’s a big-hearted girl with a big mouth who has just graduated from college and is trying to make her way in New York City.

“It would be great to tell her story across a series of films, and these books have a solid, timeless quality, with great characters,” said Sharp, who won the film rights over several competitors, according to Contardi.

Although the market may seem glutted with such projects, Sharp said, there’s always an opening for original material. And, he added, “there’s a whole new generation of young performers coming up, actresses in particular” for whom Cabot’s books seem tailor made.

The author, who has watched Hollywood’s interest in YA fiction-based movies ebb and flow over the years, speculated that interest in the “Gossip Girl” series, “High School Musical” and the recent MTV broadcast of the musical “Legally Blonde” has reignited interest in literary adaptations for this audience.

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“The people who were 12 when they read ‘The Princess Diaries’ and saw the movies may now be ready for the story of Lizzie Nichols,” she said. “People get older and so does the market.”

josh.getlin@latimes.com


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