EXCLUSIVE: Elizabeth Gabler’s Fox 2000 has acquired an untitled book that Jeffrey Toobin is writing about Patty Hearst, the heiress kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974 and brainwashed into becoming a bank robber and spokesman for the radical group’s causes before serving 22 months behind bars. Big Eyes scribes Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski will adapt the book. It will be produced by Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson of Color Force. I heard this could be developed potentially for Jennifer Lawrence but am told it was only a cursory conversation at this point. The book will be published by Doubleday in 2016. ICM Partners brokered the book deal for Toobin, the legal analyst for CNN and The New Yorker who is writing the book now.
The granddaughter of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, Patty Hearst was 19 when kidnapped from her Berkeley apartment and was subsequently beaten unconscious during the abduction by members of urban guerrilla group the SLA. As her family tried to ransom her release, Hearst shocked the country by announcing on an audiotape two months after her abduction that she had changed her name to Tania and joined the SLA. Shortly after, she was shown toting a rifle in surveillance footage during a bank robbery in San Francisco.
She was then labeled a “common criminal” by the U.S. Attorney General, and after a spree of potentially violent activities, she was apprehended. Defiant, she claimed to be an Urban Guerrilla, but some felt she had been brainwashed by her kidnappers. A sensational trial followed. Although it was revealed that Hearst had been raped and brutalized before succumbing to the ideology of her kidnappers, she was convicted of bank robbery and using a firearm in a felony and given a 35-year sentence. President Carter commuted that to 22 months, and President Clinton eventually pardoned her in 2001. After that, she became a housewife and philanthropist who appeared in a bunch of John Waters movies including Serial Mom, Pecker and Cecil B. DeMented.
Color Force just worked with Toobin on the O.J. Simpson saga American Crime Story, which Karaszewski and Alexander as well. The CAA-repped scribes specialize in turning absurd and twisted true stories into compelling features, including Man On The Moon, The People Vs. Larry Flynt, Ed Wood and most recently the Tim Burton-directed Big Eyes.