Oscar-winning writer Dustin Lance Black (Milk) has been hired to adapt Paramount TV’s event series ‘Lindbergh’ based on A. Scott Berg’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of the same name. The project will be produced by Berg, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Killoran and Kevin McCormick. The story of Lindbergh both in his flight achievements in 1927 and the subsequent kidnapping of his young child in 1932became international news.
The project once captured the attention of director Steven Spielberg (he bought it preemptively before it published) but he apparently decided against it once he learned more and more about the aviator. Lindbergh, of course, had a colored history with Germany and had been accused of being antisemitic. He and his wife Anne attended the Olympic Games in Germany in 1936 and became very impressed with the Germany military force. By 1938, they were planning to move to Berlin. That same year he was presented with the Service Cross of the German Eagle for his aviation contributions; it was presented on behalf of Adolf Hilter. He never wore the Service Cross nor took it from its box, according to Berg. At the same time, he was secretly reporting on the German aviation force. However, he was dead set against going to war. In speeches, he repeatedly urged America to stay out of intervening and became one of the leading voices of the America First movement (which promoted non-intervention).
He had a long history of being at odds with President Franklin Roosevelt and after America entered the war, Roosevelt actually tried to keep him from helping in the war effort. In fact, the President told companies if they hired him, they would not be receiving government contracts. The President would have succeeded in blackballing Lindbergh but for Henry Ford, who defied Roosevelt and hired the famous aviator to help develop planes, train other pilots and serve as a test pilot. Later, Berg noted, he would end up flying 50 bombing missions and would later, at General MacArthur’s request, go to air bases to teach pilots how to fly more miles on less gas.
The book by Berg talks about this and the life of the man who was one of the most complex and fascinating of the era. Berg was traveling on Thursday, but said in a prepared statement: “The life of Charles Lindbergh is one of the most cinematic stories of the last century—one in which he was cast as a legendary hero, victim, and villain. I’m thrilled that Lance Black—with his passion for history on top of his great talent—will be transposing the story to the screen, giving full scope to the unexpected personal drama as well as the dazzling public spectacle of this unique life.”
Truly, outside of War, the Lindbergh solo flight in 1927 became the first huge international media story. Prior to that, the biggest story ever to sweep across the U.S. was the Leopold and Loeb murder case of teen Robert Franks in 1924 which was dubbed the Story of the Century until the kidnapping and subsequent murder of Lindbergh’s 18-month old baby in 1932. Then the Lindbergh Baby became the story of the day as the press and the police hunted for his killer/s, deciding upon Bruno Richard Hauptmann who was then convicted and got the electric chair. His widow, Anna, tried until her death at the age of 95, to clear her husband’s name.
After the divorce between DreamWorks and Paramount, the Lindbergh project stayed at Paramount and moved from a film project to television. That’s when President TV president Amy Powell picked it up with the rebirth of mini-series on the television side.
“Lance is as talented and prolific as anyone working in television and film today, and we take enormous pride in working with him to adapt Scott’s brilliant portrait of one of the nation’s most fascinating cultural figures,” said Powell in a statement announcing Black’s hire. “It’s also incredibly gratifying to partner with Scott, Leo, Jen and Kevin on making Lindbergh an extraordinary television event that captures the scope and significance of this Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece.”
Interestingly, DiCaprio played another famous aviator — the reclusive Howard Hughes — in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator in 2004.