The Peters Entertainment Co. was thrust into the middle of a British political imbroglio after the U.K. press reported that company principals Jon Peters and Adam Fields had cut $ 100,000 deals with two young British women serving lengthy prison sentences in Thailand for smuggling drugs.
The movie deal capped more than a week of intense coverage of the abrupt royal pardon of 22-year-old Karyn Smith and 20-year-old Patricia Cahill by the king of Thailand and their subsequent release from the Bangkok Women’s Prison on Friday.
More than three years ago, both women received sentences in excess of 18 years after they entered guilty pleas to attempting to smuggle 60 pounds of heroin out of a Thailand airport. Both women had served three years and three days of their sentences.
The sale of movie rights by Smith and Cahill has prompted members of the British government and the British media to call for an examination of the country’s laws regarding citizens profiting in movie and television deals from their involvement in crime.
The U.K. has a Press Complaints Commission ban that prohibits people from profiting from their involvement in crime through the sale of their stories to newspapers and magazines.
That ban was officially enforced last week when journalists started bidding for rights to the story of what the British media calls the “drug girls.”
No rights control
However, the U.K. has no measure to control movie and TV rights.
Peters Entertainment president Fields said the Columbia Pictures-based production company remains committed to developing and producing a movie about Smith, Cahill and more than 18 young American women who wittingly or unwittingly agreed to transport heroin out of Thailand and were caught.
“I think a lot of parents, when their kids grab a Eurail pass and head off to Europe, have to wonder what forces are out there and what is the worst thing that can happen,” Fields said. “This is it.”
Fields said the U.K. and U.S. governments should focus their attentions on Thailand’s judicial system.
He said American girls caught for drug trafficking in Thailand go to trial without a translator and are offered either a life sentence for a not-guilty plea or 40 years for a guilty plea.
According to London’s Sunday Times, Smith was paid $ 10,000 for signing with Peters Entertainment, $ 100,000 for a feature film and $ 50,000 for a two-part television miniseries. Cahill inked a similar package on Monday.
Columbia Pictures senior veepee of publicity Mark Gill did not return telephone calls seeking comment.
Fields had no comment on whether a writer had been attached to adapt a screenplay.