'Death,' 'Baby,' 'Safari' in company's pipeline

HOLLYWOOD — Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the late wrestler Owen Hart and babymaking are all subjects to be tackled in the slate of telepics in the works at Paul A. Kaufman’s Kaufman Co.

Kaufman, who recently completed CBS telefilm “Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt,” which he directed and executive produced with Artisan Television, has lined up a slate of offbeat TV movies for the Eye network and basic cabler FX.

“We try to think of things that people would want to see but that don’t normally fit what you think a TV movie is,” said Kaufman, who also directed and exec produced CBS’ “Surviving Gilligan’s Island: The Incredibly True Story of the Longest Running Three-Hour Tour in History.”

In addition to TV movies, Kaufman, whose exclusive producing deal with Artisan TV wraps at the end of this year, also has begun dabbling in the series world. The Kaufman Co. is producing the previously reported NBC pilot “Alaska” with Artisan (Daily Variety, Sept. 12).

Highlights of the telepics Kaufman is developing include:

  • “Dr. Death” (tentative title), in development at CBS and based on Michael Betzold’s novel of the same name, chronicles the story of euthanasia activist Dr. Jack Kevorkian. Rodney Vaccaro is writing the teleplay, which Kaufman is set to direct. The Kaufman Co. is producing with Artisan TV.

  • “And Baby Makes Three,” also for the Eye, is a trilogy of short films about having a baby. Beth Henley will write and direct one of the stories, which concerns a miscarriage; Kaufman will direct a vignette Vaccaro wrote about infertility; and Gail Gilchriest wrote a short about a single woman who takes in an abandoned child. Kaufman Co. is producing with Alliance Atlantis Television.

  • “Honeymoon With Mom,” the third project on the slate for CBS, concerns a woman who is left at the altar and winds up taking the honeymoon with her mom. Duane Poole is writing, while Kaufman Co. and Alliance Atlantis are producing.

  • For FX, Kaufman’s been developing two telepic projects with Artisan: “The Last Safari,” which chronicles the true story of 16 tourists held captive by Hutu rebels in Africa, and “The Owen Hart Story,” about the wrestler who died while performing a stunt. Guy Hibbert and Vaccaro wrote “Safari.”

The Kaufman Co. and Artisan also are collaborating on an updated version of the 1963 feature “Billy Liar,” which Will Rokos (“Monster’s Ball”) is writing, for theatrical release.

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