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'50 Shades' author on why she picked Universal, Focus

/ Source: Reuters

By Tim Kenneally

LOS ANGELES, March 26 ( - E.L. James, the author of "50 Shades of Grey," is opening up about why she went with Universal Pictures and Focus Features to adapt her trilogy of best-sellers to the big screen.

And while the $5 million she reportedly received for the deal certainly didn't hurt, James tells that she did it for the laughs -- specifically, those elicited by Focus president of production Jeb Brody.

"I really like clever men who challenge you," James told the website, "and with Jeb, I thought, yeah, I can work with that!"

Plus, James added, Focus Features -- responsible for such releases as "Lost in Translation" and "The Pianist" -- has "a great background in handling difficult material."

The book, which made the New York Times best-seller list, revolves around a female college student who finds herself in a kinky relationship involving sadomasochism and submission with 27-year-old billionaire Christian Grey. The book's two sequels, "Fifty Shades Darker" and "50 Shades Freed," probe into the couple's deepening relationship.

James' steamy novels -- published by Vintage Books -- recently sparked a feeding frenzy in Hollywood, with producers Brian Grazer, Adam Shankman, Scott Stuber, Doug and Lucy Wick and Stacy Cramer courting James and her agent, Valerie Hoskins.

A few laughs and a good reputation aren't the only things that convinced James to ink a deal with Universal and Focus: The authoress also told that she was granted the approvals she requested, which included script and casting approvals.

"This makes me sound like a control freak, doesn't it?" James asked

Perhaps not as much as her protagonist, but yeah, maybe a little (Editing By Zorianna Kit)