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CBS booking JFK Jr. biopic

Scribe, unknown actor sought for project

NEW YORK — CBS has bought the rights to commission a TV movie based on “American Son” by Richard Blow, the first full-scale biography of John F. Kennedy Jr.

Ed Gernon, executive VP of movies and miniseries for Alliance Atlantis, which owns the rights to the book with True Entertainment, said the next step will be to hire a writer to adapt the book.

“I envision the script as a coming-of-age story of a young man whose life was in some sense mapped out by the society that worshipped his celebrity,” Gernon said.

Plan is to seek an unknown actor to play JFK Jr., Gernon said, so viewers won’t be distracted by a celebrity performer trying to suppress his identity in the role of an even more famous celebrity. “Ben Affleck in a JFK wig just wouldn’t work,” he added.

Steven Weinstock, president of True Entertainment, said “American Son” represents the first docudrama ever set in motion by True, whose stock-in-trade is reality programming like “Trauma: Life in the E.R.” for Learning Channel and “Women Docs” for Lifetime.

“But the JFK Jr. movie is a natural progression for us because we try to infuse all of our reality shows with narrative and storytelling,” Weinstock said.

Gernon said CBS got the rights to do a movie of the book after spirited bidding by a number of networks, both broadcast and cable. He lauded Bela Bajaria, CBS’ recently appointed senior VP of movies and miniseries, for her championing of the project and convincing her bosses to engineer the winning bid. But Gernon declined to reveal any financial terms.

The book, published by Henry Holt & Co., hits bookstores this month, following the buzz generated by an excerpt in Vanity Fair.

Peter Sussman, CEO of Alliance Atlantis, and Gernon are executive producers, along with Weinstock and his True Entertainment partner Glenda Hersh.

Jon Rosen of William Morris represented True in the negotiations.