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ABC in Talks for ‘Five People’

Jan 19, 2004  •  Post A Comment

ABC is in discussions with author and sports columnist Mitch Albom to acquire his best-selling novel “The Five People You Meet in Heaven,” the network announced last week at the Television Critics Association press tour in Los Angeles.
The book is Mr. Albom’s first since 1997’s “Tuesdays With Morrie,” which ABC aired as a telepic in 1999.
Sources said CBS and TNT also were initially interested in acquiring the book and that the deal is “far from closed.”
In published interviews, Mr. Albom has expressed unwillingness to allow tie-ins to his books, turning down numerous merchandising opportunities for “Morrie.” One source suggested he has similar hesitations about a movie deal for “Five People,” which is currently No. 2 on the New York Times hardcover fiction best seller list.
The story traces the life and death of an amusement park maintenance man, concluding with the man’s journey into heaven, and has been described as a melodrama and a parable.
Mr. Albom’s “Tuesdays With Morrie” was a phenomenal success, selling 6 million copies worldwide.
The ABC version of “Morrie” was also successful, winning its week with an average 15.2 Nielsen rating. The telepic, produced by Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films and starring Jack Lemmon and Hank Azaria, won four Emmy Awards, including best made-for-TV movie and actor awards for Mr. Azaria and Mr. Lemmon.