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Universal nabs Getty kidnap film

Peter Berg to develop film based on 'Heirs'

Universal Pictures and Peter Berg will develop a drama about the 1973 kidnapping of oil heir Jean Paul Getty III. Studio has acquired screen rights to the John Pearson book “Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortune and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty.”

Berg’s Film 44 will produce with Chris Clark.

Robin Shushan has been set to write the script. She is adapting “The Contortionist’s Handbook” for GreeneStreet.

The grandson of the oil billionaire, Getty was snatched at age 16, with a $17 million ransom demanded. When the family didn’t reply fast enough to the ransom note, Getty’s captors forwarded an envelope that contained his ear, with a promise that more pieces would follow. Ultimately, the ransom was paid, Getty was found in southern Italy, and the kidnappers got away with the fortune.

Berg, who is coming off “The Kingdom,” recently pacted to make a movie about the 2006 Kentucky Derby-winning racehorse Barbaro and its attempt to heal after shattering a leg in the Preakness, based on a Buzz Bissinger-penned article in Vanity Fair.

Berg is shooting “Hancock,” with Will Smith, Charlize Theron and Jason Bateman.

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