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The New York Times' $3 Million Touch

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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SO MONEY Fugees, St. John (inset) Yesterday's Wall Street Journal account of the film rights feeding frenzy and subsequent $3 million payday for a story by New York Times reporter Warren St. John inspired murderous envy in the hearts of journalists everywhere. The Times piece, which ran on the paper's front page earlier this month, told in heartwarming terms the tale of a Clarkston, Georgia, soccer coach and her ragamuffin team of players, all school-age refugees from places like Afghanistan and Sudan.

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The story of "The Fugees," with its Kicking and Screaming-meets-God Grew Tired of Us hook—St. John is concurrently working on a book about the team—set dollar signs spinning in the eyes of Hollywood producers. Universal beat out Scott Rudin and Sony Pictures with a bid of $2 million up front and another $1 million if the movie actually goes into production. St. John, the Times, and the coach, Luma Mufleh, will split the proceeds—the precise shares have not been disclosed—with some significant chunk going to set up a fund for the refugee children.

Everybody wins, right? Well, not Shelia M. Poole, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter who first wrote about Mufleh and the Fugees almost two years ago (the story isn't available online).

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