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‘Sputnik’ takes off for HBO

Nitzberg to write wrestler's biopic

HBO Films has tapped film and stage director Julien Nitzberg to pen biopic “Sputnik Monroe,” based on the life of the white professional wrestler who helped integrate the sport throughout the South in the 1950s.

Elysa Koplovitz is producing through her Good Kop banner. Jeff Feuerzeig, who with Nitzberg holds the rights to Monroe’s story, is co-producing.

Monroe, known as “the man you love to hate,” was the biggest wrestling draw in Memphis and other parts of the south.

A civil-rights champion, he refused to perform if African-Americans weren’t allowed to sit in the seats of their choosing at various arenas. He also helped integrate the ring.

Monroe worked as a professional wrestler from the 1940s through the early 1970s. He died in November.

Nitzberg is onstage at the Steve Allen Theater in Los Angeles with operetta “The Beastly Bombing.” Musical is prepping for a New York run.

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