Sony said to acquire film rights to Sheryl Sandberg's 'Lean In'

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LOS ANGELES - Sony obtained film rights to the best-selling book "Lean In" by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

Nell Scovell, who helped write "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead," has been hired to create a script, said the people, who weren't authorized to speak publicly because a deal hasn't been announced. The screenplay will be fictional, based on themes covered by the book, and Sandberg won't be a character, they said.

Sony is finding Silicon Valley icons rich fodder for its Culver City, Calif.-based studio, and is now turning to one of the wealthiest and best-known women in technology. Sandberg, 44, became one of the world's youngest female billionaires this week, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Sandberg's foundation licensed the "Lean In" title to Sony, said one of the people. Sony's film studio, led by Co- Chairman Amy Pascal, tapped Scovell, a veteran TV writer with credits including "NCIS" and "Monk."

Aaron Sorkin, who won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay for Sony's "The Social Network," is overseeing the script for the studio's film based on Walter Isaacson's biography of the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

"The Social Network," released by Sony in 2010, cost $40 million to make and took in $224 million in global box-office receipts, according to Box Office Mojo. Sorkin's script was based on the book "The Accidental Billionaires" by Ben Mezrich, that followed the founding of Facebook by Mark Zuckerberg.

Sony's American Depository Receipts fell 0.4 percent to $16.72 on Friday in New York.

"Lean In," published by Knopf in March, landed Sandberg on the cover of Time magazine and sparked a nationwide debate on the role of women in the workplace.

In the book, Sandberg urges women to take control of their careers and offers practical advice on climbing the corporate ladder. She suggests women develop tactics to navigate a world dominated by men, rather than change it outright. For example, she says women should be "relentlessly pleasant" to avoid ruffling feathers.

Sandberg, a Harvard graduate and an early employee at Google, was also criticized for being condescending in the book to middle-class mothers, many of whom don't have the financial resources to help balance the demands of work and home, Bloomberg View columnist Margaret Carlson wrote in March.

"She writes as if her advice is useful to all women when it is helpful mostly to the privileged," Carlson wrote. "When Sandberg was on a lower rung, she did what so many mothers do: Snuck out at 5:30 p.m. to have dinner with her children. She sneaks no more; since her well-paid days at Google, dinner has been ready when she gets home. It's just a financial fact of life that inside the household of a woman at the top is an army of nannies."

A new version of the book, which began as a commencement speech Sandberg gave at Barnard College in 2011, will be released in April as "Lean In for Graduates," Bloomberg Businessweek reported this month. The original version prompted the creation of 200 campus-based Lean In circles, groups that meet regularly to discuss career strategy and networking, and provide support.

The update will include a letter to graduates from Sandberg, as well as new chapters "Find Your First Job," "Own Who You Are," "Listen to Your Inner Voice," and "Man Up: Millennial Men and Equality," Businessweek reported.

Paul Bogaards, a spokesman for the publisher, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, didn't respond to requests for comment. The website Deadline.com reported on the agreement on Friday.