TV and film producers looking to mine the current catalogue and extensive archives of HarperCollins Children’s Books will need to buddy up to Beverly Hills-based The Gotham Group. The 10-year-old agency, which also counts Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing and many kids authors (including Maurice Sendak) as clients, has signed a new deal to rep the mighty kids publisher’s content in Hollywood.
While this isn’t the first time HarperCollins has sought external screen representation for its books (Monteiro Rose has handled some of its rights for the past year), VP and director of subsidiary rights Joan Rosen considers the deal with Gotham ‘the golden door’ to new film/TV opportunities. Rosen expects Gotham’s well-established relationships with studio heads, directors, screenwriters and actors with track records on children’s literary projects to help HarperCollins exploit its rights more aggressively.
Rosen and her team will work closely with Gotham to define and hone the business direction of the deal. ‘It’s like having another sub-rights office in a different state,’ she says. HarperCollins is currently focused on promoting the film rights to upcoming novel Septimus Heap by Angie Sage, which will be published in 14 languages when it hits bookstores this spring. Gotham is also pushing the works of Margaret Wise Brown – author of kid classics Runaway Bunny and Goodnight Moon. For her part, Gotham CEO Ellen Goldsmith-Vein says she’ll soon start sifting through HarperCollins’ mammoth library and pulling out books that meet the specific needs of prospective producers.
With both S&S and HarperCollins as clients, it may seem like Gotham has really cornered the children’s book rights market, but Goldsmith-Vein says that’s not the case. She notes that in a lot of instances, it’s children’s authors (rather than their publishers) who hold the subsidiary rights to their works, and there are thousands out there that Gotham does not represent.
The agency also owns a production arm that’s currently working with Paramount and Nickelodeon Movies on a feature film based on The Spiderwick Chronicles, a fantasy book series by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black.