Symphony Pictures and Aces & Eights Prods. have acquired the rights to the story of James Douglas Pou, the Air Force sergeant who faked his death five years ago in Albuquerque to start life under the assumed name Christopher K. Riggs.
Contemplated as a cable movie, the Pou story will be produced by both Aces & Eights and Symphony, the Culver City-based television and film production company headed by president William R. Greenblatt.
The acquisition of the Pou property is significant because of the intense competition within Hollywood for the rights. Greenblatt and Nobles sat through Pou’s 15-hour court-martial this week at March Air Force Base near Riverside to support the family and help seal the deal. Six production companies were in pursuit of the rights.
The acquisition package to the Pou story is estimated in the $ 500,000 range, including rights held by several Pou family members and personal friends.
With the rights to the Pou story in place, Symphony and Aces & Eights expect to close a television deal for the property within a week, Greenblatt said. “There is a great deal of interest because it has all the elements of a Hollywood story,” Aces & Eights partner Vern Nobles said.
Earlier this week, the 32-year-old Pou received a bad-conduct discharge and 18 months in prison from a military judge after he pleaded guilty to desertion and bigamy charges. A member of an elite parachute rescue team, Pou admitted he faked his death when he was stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base.
Pou abandoned his first wife, Suzy, and their two sons because he feared he was abusing his sons much as his father allegedly abused him.
He assumed the alias Christopher K. Riggs and married his second wife, Monica , four months after his disappearance. He later abandoned Monica and started a relationship with his next-door neighbor, according to court testimony.
After Pou was apprehended in San Diego last June, he sold the rights to his story for 1 cents to fellow para-rescue team member Darrell Sedliar.
Producer Nobles said Pou will receive additional compensation for his story should the cable movie come to fruition.
Symphony and Aces & Eights said Sedliar and writer Laura Glumm have turned in a long-form treatment of the Pou story. A screenwriter has not yet been assigned to the property, Nobles said.
The Pou deal builds on a year-old relationship between Symphony and Aces & Eights. The two companies also are adapting several Louis L’Amour stories for television and other markets. Laguna Beach-based Aces & Eights is headed by Nobles, producer Mike Joyce and Beau L’Amour.