EXCLUSIVE: Patricia Burke, long a champion of book-to-film adaptations as an executive at Columbia Pictures, Fox, Jaffe/Lansing and when she headed the Gotham office of Paramount Pictures, has joined the New York-based literary agency Lippincott Massie McQuilkin. Burke takes the post of Director of Dramatic Rights. She had most recently been with Inkwell Management.
Her job: to drawing upon LMQ’s rich trove of frontlist as well as backlist properties, including those of the many estates that came with LMQ’s 2012 purchase of literary agency Russell & Volkening. Burke will work both directly with studios and producers as well as in coordination with other co-agents on the West Coast. She is well suited for the job; for one thing she has the patience to blow the dust off those books and read them; and she has long been an unsung matriarch for film-centric books and the executives who chase them down for studios and producers. Many of the execs and scouts chasing books for movies worked for Burke at one time or another. Among the films she championed are Fatal Attraction, Forrest Gump, Nobody’s Fool, No Country For Old Men, Hugo, Into the Wild, Mystic River, and Kiss The Girls. Also on that list is Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga book series; Burke got Paramount to acquire the book before it was anything, but the studio then let go of the series, which Summit Entertainment picked up and turned into a game-changing franchise. She also brought in the forthcoming film adaptation of The Night Circus. A charming little secret in New York for many years was the fact that Burke was so exuberant about books she discovered that when she couldn’t convince her bosses to buy them, she shared them with competitors. She helped get a lot of movies going in the process and became a veritable Book Whisperer.
“My passion has always been reading and my expertise has been the ability to recognize and to champion literary properties with film potential…In any given year, an average of 25% of the films are based on literary material and these are the films that often dominate the lists of award-winning projects, like this year’s Lincoln,” she said. “I can’t wait to get to work on some of the incredibly promising titles on LMQ’s list. My very first order of business is to find a cable or network home for a miniseries adaptation of Ntozake Shange (For Colored Girls) and sister Ifa Bayeza’s Some Sing, Some Cry (St. Martin’s 2010), which is basically Roots meets Dreamgirls… There is just so much here to look forward to…”
LMQ partner Rob McQuilkin said: “At a time when the publishing industry itself is in a state of real flux, we are proud to able to tell both our present and potential clients that we have this important dimension of a book’s life well-covered. Not all novels or nonfiction books, of course, will make for viable film or TV adaptations; but we feel confident that, under Patricia’s active oversight, when such an opportunity does present itself, we will be ready to move it forward in the most productive way possible.”