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City illustrator draws Hollywood's interest

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

By Deborah Weisberg

Hollywood is warming up to "Whiteout," a comic book illustrated by Squirrel Hill's Steve Lieber -- and now apparently destined for the big screen.

Movie rights to the murder mystery were sold to Universal Pictures, which reportedly will cast Reese Witherspoon ("Legally Blond," "Sweet Home Alabama") in the role of Carrie Stetko, a tough-as-nails U.S. marshal trying to catch a killer before the sun sets for six months on the South Pole.

Lieber, 35, a 1985 graduate of Allderdice High School, now lives in Portland, Ore., with his wife, novelist Sara Ryan. He was surprised that Witherspoon purportedly wanted the role.

"The character is atypical for her, but she's a terrific actress -- I loved her in "Election" -- and she'll do a wonderful job," he said in a phone interview.

Lieber, who dropped out of Penn State University to attend the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Arts in New Jersey, collaborated with writer Greg Rucka on "Whiteout."

It was optioned to Columbia Pictures by producer Wolfgang Petersen ("A Perfect Storm," "In the Line of Fire"), then sold to Universal. Witherspoon reportedly will co-produce the movie through her Type A Films.

In addition to comic super-heroes like Spider-Man, Batman and Superman, other comics have been made into successful movies, including "Road to Perdition," "From Hell" and "Ghost World."

"It's a natural transition, since comics tell stories in visuals," said Lieber, who also has illustrated "Batman."

"Because comics are doing more sophisticated material, Hollywood has found a ripe source of material."

Lieber said he couldn't discuss how much he was paid for movie rights.

"There's no script yet. No director. I can't talk about money. The gears of Hollywood have just started to kick in."

For more about Lieber, visit http://unrewarding.com/steve/.

Deborah Weisberg is a Freelance writer.

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