Showbiz has been an easy target for writers since the get-go, and “Man Eater” (Putnam), a new thriller by Ray Shannon that hits stores next Monday, aims straight for its heart. “In all my writing, I generally have one ax or another to grind,” says the author. “Up to this point, I’ve been fairly subtle in grinding it.”

Shannon, a pseudonym for crime novelist Gar Anthony Haywood, pushes the word “greenlight” to a place it hasn’t gone before: committing murder to get a film off the ground. The high-jinx story that’s been garnering buzz in Hollywood begins when the tough, beautiful producer Ronnie “Raw” Deal loses the project that would vault her into the big leagues — the film “Trouble Town” starring Brad Pitt. Her colleague jackknifed her, and Ronnie wants him to pay. Enter an ex-con with a screenplay, a pack of drug dealers, a thug and his bimbo — and well, Haywood, a former staff writer for the TV series “New York Undercover,” has his own screenplay waiting to happen.

This story first appeared in the January 21, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

His eight previous books have been compared to those of Elmore Leonard, whose works were turned into the films “Get Shorty,” “Jackie Brown” and “Out of Sight.” “I start from the bare bones of the model Elmore Leonard’s created and just hope I don’t botch the job,” admits Haywood.

He already has a man-eater in mind for the lead. “In terms of her looks, I’ve described her as Angelina Jolie,” he says. And the male lead? Denzel Washington, of course.

“I don’t take myself terribly seriously,” he adds. “All I’m looking for is a fun read.”