EXCLUSIVE: Writer-director Michael Mann, long one of the most literate translators of words to the screen, has made a deal to launch Michael Mann Books. The imprint will generate a series of novels with a stable of writers and the properties will simultaneously be developed for film and television. Mann will look through his own long list of credits for ideas, and a big piece of news here is that high on the priority list is a prequel novel dealing with the principal characters of Heat, Mann’s seminal crime thriller. The prequel novel will cover the formative years of homicide detective Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino), Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro), Chris Shihirles (Val Kilmer), McCauley’s accomplice Nate (Jon Voight), and other characters so brilliantly layered in the 1995 film. Mann based that film on stories of a lot of real criminals and cops, and references to past experiences are peppered throughout the picture.

michael mann on setIt’s a bit of reverse engineering, since so many of Mann’s film and TV projects have come from literary properties. His overall highlight credits include The Last Of The Mohicans, Manhunter, Collateral, Public Enemies, Ali, The Insider, Miami Vice, Crime Story, Luck and Drug Wars: The Camarena Story, the Emmy-winning miniseries, and Drug Wars: The Cocaine Cartel, the latter an Emmy nominated adaptation of the Elaine Shannon nonfiction book Desperados.

the insiderMann also developed and produced the Martin Scorsese-directed The Aviator, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio, based on John Logan’s adaptation of the Charles Higham book Howard Hughes: The Secret Life. That film got 11 Oscar noms and there were seven for The Insider, adapted from Marie Brenner’s Vanity Fair article. His productions have collectively garnered 23 Oscar noms and 55 Emmy noms. Mann continues to work under the hood of Enzo Ferrari, a feature whose script he wrote over a 15-year period, based on a pivotal year in the life of the Italian sports car maker and entrepreneur. I have read several of Mann’s screenplays, and the feeling is comparable to the one I get reading fellow writer-director Quentin Tarantino’s scripts; they are so lyrical and well thought out that you could see them thrive in other media like novels or stage plays. Mann’s are always exhaustively researched.

collateralUnder his Michael Mann Books imprint, Mann will have a core group of authors to collaborate on fiction and nonfiction books, and he may share cover credit on certain properties. Conversations with publishers are expected to begin shortly. The publishing venture will be repped by Shane Salerno at The Story Factory. Mann is represented by CAA, LBI and Attorney Harold Brown.