Machine, HBO team on ‘Laramie’

Kaufman to pen/helm pay TV take on Shepard play

NEW YORK — HBO and Good Machine are going ahead with an original pay TV movie based on “The Laramie Project,” the off-Broadway play about the brutal 1998 murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard in Wyoming.

Roy Gabay, one of the producers of “Laramie Project,” said he took the play to HBO because the network “treated with respect” the movie adaptation of Margaret Edson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Wit.” Gabay is one of the producers of “Wit,” which Emma Thompson will star in and Mike Nichols will direct for HBO.

Moises Kaufman, the director and one of the writers of “Laramie,” will write and direct the HBO picture, which Gabay said will be “a full-fledged movie, not a documentary.” Gabay is referring to the fact that the play is presentational in style, with many of the 60 characters addressing the audience directly, their words derived from interviews conducted by Kaufman and the eight actors who portray all of the characters onstage.

The eight actors, who with Kaufman are part of the Tectonic Theater Project, will participate in the movie, Gabay said. An HBO spokeswoman declined to comment on “Laramie Project.”

Gabay said he sought out Good Machine because “it’s a New York-based company and it’ll help to facilitate the production process for the movie.” Good Machine execs Ted Hope, Anne Carey and Ross Katz will shepherd “Laramie.”

“It’s too early in the process to say exactly what shape the script will take,” Kaufman said. “But there are between 50 and 60 roles, and a number of TV and film stars have come to the play. Some of those roles will be very significant.”

Gabay said there’s no timetable for the start of shooting “but I’d like to get it onto a fast track,” even if that would mean suspending production of the play until Good Machine completes the movie.