EXCLUSIVE: The doping scandal that enveloped the Tour de France and led to the downfall of 7-time champion Lance Armstrong is now the focus of movies being developed by two major studios. Warner Bros has just acquired an untitled project from Atlas Entertainment’s Charles Roven and Alex Gartner that will be scripted by Side Effects scribe Scott Z. Burns to be directed by Jay Roach. Roach, coming off the Emmy-winning HBO pics Game Change and Recount, will produce with Roven and Gartner. The package includes the life rights of Tyler Hamilton, the former professional bike racer who was in Armstrong’s inner circle on the US Postal Service Team.
A former Olympic gold medalist and NCAA champion, Hamilton was one of the first insiders to testify under oath and come forward publicly–on 60 Minutes—to break the code of silence. Michael Radutzky, an executive producer at CBS News and senior producer for 60 Minutes, is also in talks to produce. The studio is in talks to acquire confidential rights of other key individuals involved in the story, and all of this creates the tapestry to explore the biggest and most sophisticated doping scandal in the history of sports.
Perhaps it’s appropriate for the subject matter, but Warner Bros, Roven, Gartner, Roach and Burns find themselves in a race with Paramount Pictures and Bad Robot partners JJ Abrams and Bryan Burk. Just as Armstrong was preparing to come clean in an interview with Oprah Winfrey in January, Deadline broke news that Paramount set up a movie about the disgraced bicycle racer, based on Cycle Of Lies: The Fall Of Lance Armstrong, a proposal for a book that will be written for HarperCollins by Juliet Macur. She’s the New York Times sportswriter who covered Armstrong for over a decade, spanning his recovery from near-fatal testicular cancer to winning seven Tour de France titles, all the while steadfastly deflecting drug rumors. Silver Linings Playbook star Bradley Cooper has reportedly been talking to Abrams about playing Armstrong.
Here is a snippet of the interview Hamilton gave to 60 Minutes: