Banner lands hospital story

Just days after a gunman opened fire at the busiest emergency room in America and put three doctors in intensive care, producers Dick Berman, Norton Wright and Bob Banner had the rights to the doctors’ stories for “Siege at County Hospital,” Berman confirmed this week.

Bob Banner Associates has put the two-hour action docudrama about the shooting at L.A. County-USC Medical Center on the fast track for NBC, Berman said. The producers are actively looking for a writer and director.

On Feb. 8, Damacio Ybarra Torres reportedly got tired of waiting for “painkillers” at the hospital, pulled out a .44-caliber magnum revolver and a . 38-caliber automatic pistol and shot Drs. Glenn Rogers, Paul Kaszubowski and Richard May. Rogers and Kaszubowski were released from the hospital soon after. May remains in intensive care.

By Feb. 13, the injured doctors had been contacted by the producers, who wanted to tell their side of the story.

Dr. Ann Tournay — who was one of Torres’ two hostages for almost five hours — also sold the producers rights to her story.

The movie’s premise will be the “horrible health-care situation in the U.S.,” Berman said. “We’re working very closely with the doctors and the police department to be as accurate as possible.”

Conditions had grown so desperate prior to the attack that the doctors involved were gambling on when such an incident would occur, Berman said. “They were betting on when it would happen and who would get hit,” the producer noted.

Instrumental in securing the rights was Beverly Strong, who will associate produce. Bob Banner will exec produce and Berman and Wright will co-produce.

Berman, Banner and Wright also are producing “Angel Flight Down,” about the 1992 Valentine’s Day ambulance air crash where all five passengers survived, for ABC.

Berman, who’s producing the feature “Grumpy Old Men,” is also working on the black comedy feature “Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire.”

Berman said he bought rights from Mark Lonow and Joanne Astrow, and writers Mark Homer and Mark Steven Johnson are penning the script. Feature is not associated with a studio.

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