Barry Levinson to direct project

Al Pacino has been set to star in an HBO telepic about right-to-die champion Dr. Jack Kevorkian, to be helmed by Barry Levinson.

Pic will revolve around Kevorkian’s construction of his infamous “Mercy Machine,” his first assisted suicide in the early 1990s and the resulting media frenzy. Kevorkian was convicted of second-degree murder in 1999 as a result of his involvement in an assisted suicide that was videotaped and later shown on TV. He was released from prison in 2007.

Script was penned by Adam Mazer. Levinson, Steve Lee Jones, Lydia Dean Pilcher and Glenn Rigberg will exec produce. It’s still unclear if Kevorkian, who last year mounted an unsuccessful bid for Congress in Michigan, will be involved in the production.

Jones has been shepherding the Kevorkian biopic for about five years, after he received the manuscript for a book about Kevorkian, “Between the Dying and the Dead,” written by Harry Wylie and Neal Nicol, longtime friends and associates of the activist nicknamed “Dr. Death” by the media.

Jones wrapped up the pic rights to the Wylie-Nicol book and then began shopping the project as a feature. It finally landed at HBO in 2007, where it piqued the interest of Pacino and Levinson.

In addition to the Kevorkian saga, Jones is at work on a biopic of John Z. DeLorean with producer David Permut (Daily Variety, March 4). He also just completed work on a feature-length docu on Kevorkian’s bid for Congress.

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