The events of Sept. 11 continue to reverberate in Hollywood: Artisan Television and cabler FX are developing a two-hour telepic dramatizing the story of American Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh.
Scribe/producer John Romano (“Party of Five”) has been signed to write the script for the project, which is in the early stages of development at FX under the working title “American Taliban.” Artisan Pictures CEO Bob Cooper will exec produce the pic, with Barbara Bloom serving as co-exec producer and Judy Ranan signed as supervising producer.
Because the Lindh case is still unfolding, the exact plot of the pic is also in flux. However, both Romano and other insiders close to the project said “American Taliban” would attempt to explain what motivated Lindh to fight for an enemy of the U.S.
“The challenge is to take a story with a political dimension and tell it from a personal and psychological perspective,” Romano said.
While scribes often take on projects holding a strong point of view about the pic’s subject, Romano said “American Taliban” will represent a chance for him to figure out just what to make of Lindh’s story.
“I’m writing this in part to discover what we should think about this,” he said. “I was compelled by the profound psychological and political mystery of this kid: How does someone grow up in Marin County with all the benefits that America has to offer, and then end up in Afghanistan with an AK-47?”
Romano’s current workload includes a couple of other projects with historical and political themes.
He’s just signed on as a consulting producer for the upcoming NBC fall drama “American Dreams,” which is set in the days just after the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
In addition, Romano — who is repped by Endeavor and attorney Jeanne Newman — has wrapped up an adaptation of Phillip Roth’s Pulitzer Prize-winning tome “American Pastoral,” which producer Lynda Obst is developing as a feature. Roth’s book, set in the 1970s, is centered on a young woman whose leftist politics end up separating her from her father.
Romano’s other credits include the 1999 feature “The Third Miracle,” which starred Ed Harris and Anne Heche, as well as creating the NBC drama “Sweet Justice” and co-creating the critically hailed Fox drama “Class of ’96.”
Scribe is also in final talks to come on board as scribe/exec producer of USA Network’s upcoming drama pilot remake of “McCloud,” which is from exec producer David Eick.
For now, Artisan and FX are using information in the public domain as the basis for “American Taliban.” It’s possible producers could seek to lock up more specific source material at a later date.
If “American Taliban” gets the greenlight from FX, project wouldn’t bow until 2003 at the absolute earliest. Fox TV Studios, which has a first-look deal with Artisan, would likely handle distribution of the pic.
Under topper Kevin Reilly, FX has been steadily carving out a niche as a home for edgy, current-events driven longform projects.
Artisan and FX are working on a telepic about the Enron scandal based on the as-yet unwritten book by Sherron Watkins (Daily Variety, March 27.) Companies are also partnered on an upcoming biopic of Robert Kennedy and last year teamed for the based-in-fact pic “Sins of the Father.”
Artisan Television is a division of Artisan Entertainment Inc.