The UK's FilmFour Ltd has bought film rights to Tishomingo Blues, the 37th novel by Elmore Leonard which will be published by Harper Collins in Feb 2002. Leonard will serve as a producer on the film and a full creative partner on the project with FilmFour.

The project, which was brought in to FilmFour by the company's LA-based senior vice president of production Rebecca Yeldham, follows a long tradition of Leonard novels brought to the big and small screen including Get Shorty, Out Of Sight, Jackie Brown, Maximum Bob, Touch, Pronto, Cat Chaser, 52 Pick-Up, Stick and Hombre.

"This is the book I've had the most fun writing and I thought, why not have fun making the movie too. When I met the people at FilmFour I couldn't believe there were filmmakers this good at what they do who are still having fun," said Leonard in a statement. "This is as promising a starting point as I've ever had."

Tishomingo Blues, which is being executive produced by FilmFour chief executive Paul Webster, is a contemporary crime comedy set in Tunica, Mississippi, centred around a carnival high-diver who witnesses a murder and a con-man from Detroit who joins forces with him to challenge the local Dixie Mafia.

Although no director is yet attached, Yeldham added that, as was the case with Out Of Sight, Get Shorty and Jackie Brown, "we intend to develop this project with one of the most exciting film-makers of our time." Yeldham will oversee the film for FilmFour and serve as a co-producer.

The deal was brokered by Craig Jacobson of Hansen Jacobson for FilmFour and Michael Siegel for Michael Siegel and Associates, who along with Priscilla Cohen, his associate, and attorney John LaViolette, represented Elmore Leonard and the sale of the book. Siegel and Leonard will be producers of the project.

Tishomingo Blues is the latest US project in the FilmFour cannon, joining Toronto world premiere Buffalo Soldiers directed by Gregor Jordan and starring Joaquin Phoenix and Ed Harris, and Danny De Vito's comedy Death To Smoochy starring Robin Williams and Edward Norton on which FilmFour is a partner with Warner Bros. The company, which is also partnered with Warner Bros on the upcoming Charlotte Gray starring Cate Blanchett, also sealed a co-production alliance in May with New York-based Hart Sharp Entertainment (You Can Count On Me).