EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures and Bad Robot partners JJ Abrams and Bryan Burk are going to make a movie about the epic rise and fall of doping bicyclist Lance Armstrong. They’ve just closed a deal for screen rights to Cycle Of Lies: The Fall Of Lance Armstrong, a proposal for a book that will be written by Juliet Macur for HarperCollins.
Macur is a sports reporter for The New York Times, and she has covered Armstrong for over a decade, through the cyclist’s recovery from deadly cancer to his capturing seven Tour de France title. She has also covered the allegations of doping that Armstrong vehemently denied, before finally falling on his sword in a much publicized interview with Oprah Winfrey (since that two-part program will put Winfrey’s OWN on the map, I’m waiting to read the story on whether or not Armstrong got paid handsomely for his confession).
This is the first fresh new Hollywood feature I’ve heard of since Armstrong went from hero to zero, particularly because he protested his innocence so vociferously. Sony Pictures has long had an Armstrong feature project, but the studio dropped it awhile ago, when Armstrong began his descent from grace. This one had the biker’s pal Jake Gyllenhaal poised to star, and it was clearly meant to tell a heroic story of an athlete who overcame adversity. Now it’s the story of a cheat who will likely pay a high price for his lies. Will Sony resurrect theirs, which had Armstrong aboard, and change the angle? That will be hard. It’s reminiscent of the time that Tom Cruise and Cameron Crowe made a deal with Phil Spector to tell the mercurial producer’s life story. Cruise had Spector’s mannerisms down pat, and they had the music but Crowe told me what they lacked was a good third act. Well, that was provided when Spector was convicted and is serving a prison sentence for the shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson. But Universal, Crowe and Cruise never moved forward with the project. Instead, the film was made by HBO with Al Pacino in the lead role.
Janklow & Nesbit’s Carlo Martinelli & Amanda Schweitzer handled the deal. They were dispatched by the lit agency to Hollywood to be in the center of such deal making undertakings, and they didn’t have to pedal far to peddle this Armstrong tale.