The Army made it official this past week, releasing a report that the story of Pfc. Jessica Lynch and her company’s ambush in Nasiriyah, Iraq, was more tragic bumbling and happenstance than a heroic made-for-Hollywood tale.
Nonetheless, Dan Paulson, who is exec producing “Saving Jessica Lynch” for NBC, promises he will soldier on with the telepic.
After her rescue from an Iraqi hospital in April, U.S. officials described Lynch as emptying her M-16 into Iraqi soldiers and, as a source told the Washington Post, “fighting to the death.”
But in its July 10 report, the Army said Lynch was most likely unconscious after her Humvee crashed into a tractor-trailer, injuring her severely, and then was taken prisoner.
So does this new account make Lynch’s tale less, well, dramatic?
“Not at all,” Paulson says. “This is still a story of ordinary people who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances. We feel it’s every bit as exciting.”
Paulson says he had a script in from John Fasano based on the now-discredited reports of Lynch’s ordeal. In June, when a different version of Lynch’s story emerged, he went back for a rewrite. That draft isn’t done yet.
Production is skedded to start in August, so they have a few weeks to finalize a storyline. “We are monitoring the news,” Paulson says, “because we want to be as accurate as possible.”
Lynch, who reportedly remembers little of her ordeal, isn’t cooperating, but the filmmakers have locked up the life rights of Mohammed Al-Rahaief, the Iraqi who helped the U.S. military rescue Lynch.
Ripped-from-the headlines telepics can often run into trouble.
In May, NBC’s Jeff Zucker was kept on pins and needles with the Peacock’s adaptation of Martha Stewart bio “Martha, Inc.” Script changes were being made even as the telepic was in production and the case against Stewart grew.
As it happened, Stewart was indicted on insider trading charges June 4, a week and a half after NBC aired the pic.