Modern Love For Sale: Columbia Options the NYT’s Column

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Last year, staff at the New York Times voted on a 5% pay cut, and yesterday, they announced plans to cut 100 newsroom positions by year’s end, first through buy outs and then by layoff. Times are tough as the media struggles to keep up with an ever changing-landscape of information and exchange. Dire times, however, call for creative solutions, and today, it seems the Gray Lady might have come across a little something: they’ve got love for sale — “Modern Love.

Columbia Pictures has made a sort of first-look deal with the New York Times for everyone’s second favorite part of the Sunday Styles. Chronicling love in a modern world, the column serves as an often touching, generally middling, and occasionally moving reminder that there is love beyond, oh, say, that of rosy Hollywood romance or the couplings in everyone’s favorite part of the Sunday Styles, the wedding announcements. This deal gives Columbia first look at specific columns, in hopes that someone’s experience with modern love might prove a fruitful romantic comedy.

Gawker once did a graph showing what topics Modern Love columns cover. It looks like this:

Interestingly, this isn’t the first newsprint to silver screen deal involving “Modern Love.” Sony Pictures TV and producers Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun are working on an HBO pilot based around a fictionalized male editor of the column who is working through a messy divorce. This pilot sounds more like it borrows from the idea of the column itself, while the Columbia deal levers rights to its content.

The Times, managed by ICM, has optioned story ideas in the past, (“north of 20″ reports Variety) and with this latest deal, they take a stake in optioning out love to Hollywood.

So this latest indulgence of their Gatekeeper status should result with a few dollars in the Gray Lady’s pocket, and perhaps a couple of jobs saved. These are all nice stories that people like, and apparently, are willing to pay for. If we can learn where to capitalize, there just might be money to be made in the papers after all. And if someone quick and options David Rohde’s story? Holiday bonuses all around!