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Graham King nabs rights to Keene tale

Undercover drug story picked up by GK Films

After a spirited bidding battle, Graham King’s GK Films has paid low six figures against seven figures to land screen rights to the story of Jim Keene, a convicted drug dealer who went undercover in a maximum security hospital for the criminally insane. His goal: to get a serial killer to confess to the murders of two dozen young women.

King will produce with Alexandra Milchan. He bought the project through his discretionary fund.

While book brokers have wondered if studios will have any appetite for deals while there are no screenwriters around to adapt them, the deal shows that studios and producers with discretionary funds that do not roll over into next year are willing to spend right now.

Keene’s story had three studios bidding on a one-page description. Deal comes with rights to a book Keene will write with Hillel Levine, whose article about Keene will be published in the December issue of Playboy.

The son of a police chief, Keene received a sentence of 10 years to life for dealing drugs. The prosecutor proposed lightening the sentence in exchange for helping authorities tie a string of murders to a suspected serial killer sitting in a Springfield, Mo., prison. Only the prison’s head psychiatrist knew why Keene was there, and his only visitor was an FBI agent posing as a girlfriend. While in prison, Keene had to survive fights with other dangerous inmates and navigate around the killer’s protective therapist, who threw Keene into solitary in an attempt to discover why he was really there.

Joel Gotler will be exec producer. He sold the project with Gotham lit agent Nat Sobel.

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