EXCLUSIVE: I’ve just learned that Sony Pictures is making a hefty deal to acquire feature rights to Steve Jobs, the upcoming authorized biography by former CNN chairman and Time Magazine managing editor Walter Isaacson. I’m hearing the deal is $1 million against $3 million and that Mark Gordon will be the biopic’s producer. But this will be an MG360 project, which is the movie production partnership between Gordon and Management 360. ICM reps both Isaacson and Gordon. Sony Pictures would not comment. The studio seems a good fit for the book, having boiled business books into compelling dramas with both the Oscar-nominated The Social Network and Moneyball. The Isaacson book was supposed to be published on November 21st by Simon & Schuster, but now the release date has moved up to October 24th, according to a spokeswoman for the publisher. This was the hottest about-to-be biopic in Hollywood. [Will Hollywood Book Biopic Of Steve Jobs?] The 448-page profile is based on over 40 interviews with the Apple co-founder and over 100 conversations with friends, family members, colleagues and competitors. And it’s a compelling story: the building of the world’s most valuable technology company by creating the devices that changed how people use electronics and revolutionized the computer, music, and mobile phone industries. Jobs gave his full cooperation but had not read it as of mid-August. At first titled iSteve: the Book Of Jobs, Isaacson had second thoughts about what was appropriate for the first biography to get Jobs’ blessing and cooperation. Even when it wasn’t even finished, it made it (briefly) into the top 50 on Amazon’s bestseller list. Isaacson eventually persuaded his publisher Simon & Schuster to go with the simple title of Steve Jobs. First planned for 2012, the book’s release date was moved up.
Jobs reportedly fought off a long list of would-be biographers over the years then chose Isaacson, who’s written about Henry Kissinger, Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein. Jobs himself said he had no skeletons in his closet, though there were things he’d done he wasn’t proud of. But he was touchy about his personal life, understandably. According to Fortune magazine, in the early 1980s Jobs invited Michael Moritz, then Time‘s Silicon Valley reporter, to chronicle the Mac’s creation for the book that became The Little Kingdom (1984). But when Moritz reported, in Time‘s 1983 Machine of the Year, a detail about Jobs’ family, access was abruptly cut off.
At the time of Jobs’ death, only one movie had ever chronicled his rise to tech titan: Pirates Of Silicon Valley, a semi-humorous docudrama about the two visionaries behind Microsoft and Apple based on the book Fire In The Valley: The Making of The Personal Computer by Paul Freiberger & Michael Swaine. Shown on TNT in 1999, the telefilm starred Anthony Michael Hall as Bill Gates and Noah Wyle as Jobs. Reportedly, Jobs thought the ER actor did a fantastic job donning the turtleneck. And, during the Macworld NY in July 1999, Jobs had Wyle come out dressed like him to start the keynote. TNT re-aired Pirates back-to-back on Thursday night in tribute.