New Line has acquired screen rights to “Black Dahlia Avenger,” a book by ex-L.A. homicide detective Steve Hodel.
Tome details Hodel’s investigation into Hollywood’s most infamous unsolved crime that led him to finger his own father as the killer.
Ralph Pezzullo is set to write the script; Hodel will be exec producer.
Deal comes two weeks before the release of Brian De Palma’s “The Black Dahlia,” an adaptation of the James Ellroy novel. Ellroy wrote the intro to Hodel’s book and declared that the author had probably correctly identified Dr. George Hodel as the killer.
After an 18-year career investigating more than 300 murders, Hodel was retired when his father died and he received an album of old photos. He realized two of them were of Elizabeth Short, the aspiring actress found cut in half and posed in a bizarre manner. Hodel, on a quest to discover who his father really was, came up with a picture of a brilliant, charming, Hannibal Lecter-like villain he believes may have killed a dozen people.
“I found out that George Hodel was the prime suspect all along,” Hodel said. “The D.A. was days away from arresting him, but the police department was very corrupt. The files were sanitized, the physical evidence disappeared.”
Hodel was courted by several directors but made the deal because of the persistence of New Line exec Jeff Katz, a connoisseur of true-crime TV who’d watched Hodel’s story.