EXCLUSIVE: Open Road is in final talks for domestic distribution on Parkland, a film that recounts the events that occurred at Parkland Hospital in Dallas on November 22, 1963. They are eyeing a release late this fall, around the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The film’s written and directed by Peter Landesman, the ex-foreign correspondent and scripter of films including the upcoming The Mission who makes his helming debut on the picture. It is based on Reclaiming History: The Assassination Of President John F. Kennedy, the mammoth 1,632-page book by Helter Skelter author Vincent Bugliosi that meticulously debunked the conspiracy theories that later found their way into films like Oliver Stone’s JFK.
The book was originally set at HBO for a miniseries by Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman in 2007 along with Bill Paxton, who at the time was starring in Playtone’s HBO series Big Love. Instead of taking on the assassination and the conspiracy theories in a mini, they and Landesman boiled this down to a smaller story that covers what happened at the hospital when the world was turned upside down by the business end of Lee Harvey Oswald’s sniper rifle. It was re-calibrated as an indie film that’s being co-financed by Exclusive Media and The American Film Company, the latter of which was hatched by entrepreneur Joe Ricketts to focus on telling American history tales. Pic stars Paul Giamatti, Billy Bob Thornton, Jacki Weaver, Marcia Gay Harden, Zac Efron, Jeremy Strong, James Badge Dale, Jackie Earle Haley, Colin Hanks, David Harbour, and Ron Livingston.
I have been chasing this distribution deal for a story on the movie and was begged by Exclusive Media through their PR person Maxine (“Unfortunately, this has to go wide”) Leonard to hold this, all week. Nice to find out after the fact they put out wide an announcement on every facet of the film except Open Road. So rather than risk my scoop seeming like an afterthought, or waiting for another passive aggressive maneuver, I decided to report what I know. And I want nothing more to do with Exclusive Media or their PR person, and invite them not to darken Deadline’s doorstep because it’s a waste of our time. I’m a pretty nice guy, and this is the first time I recall feeling this way in over 25 years of doing this for Variety and now Deadline Hollywood. So, Maxine, you’ve made history. Bask in it.