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Books in consideration: 'The Accidental Billionaires'

February 26, 2011 |  9:36 am

Accidentalbillionaires Ben Mezrich's story of the founding of Facebook, "The Accidental Billionaires," was a Los Angeles Times bestseller when it was released in 2009 -- and now it's the basis of the film "The Social Network."

"The Social Network" is up for the best adapted screenplay Oscar on Sunday, along with seven other Academy Awards. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin has been stacking up awards for his adaptation, including one from the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn.

The path to print and screen was an unusual one. The book was optioned before it was finished, and Sorkin signed on early. He went to Boston so he could work side by side with Mezrich as he was still writing.

"We sat at the Four Seasons, and I handed him chapter after chapter," Mezrich told The Times. "He was my first reader."

Mezrich worked more closely with Sorkin than he did with Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is the character at the heart of the book and the film. "I spent a year kind of trying to get Mark to talk to me. It was a little like 'Waiting for Godot.' There were a lot of the 'maybes' before the 'no.'" Mezrich said. "I think he didn’t want this to be an authorized story, and even though it wouldn't have been done that way, I think that's what he was afraid of."

As for the book, Mezrich said, "I write nonfiction in this thriller-esque style. I have all the facts; I research it. ... I'm Hunter S. Thompson. Without the drugs and the guns."

-- Carolyn Kellogg