EXCLUSIVE: The life of Benny Binion, the cowboy, gangster, killer who created the World Series of Poker, is being turned into a scripted series after Argo producer Tim Headington’s company Ley Line optioned the rights to a biography about him.
The production company and financier, which Headington launched with former music industry exec Theresa Steele Page last year, optioned Doug J. Swanson’s book Blood Aces: The Wild Ride of Benny Binion.
Blood Aces had previously been set up for a feature film remake by Relativity in 2015 with Cliff Dorfman set to write the movie before the company went into administration.
The television adaptation is currently out to writers with Headington and Page producing with Friendly Films’ David T. Friendly, and Bill Nuss, through his Confidential Pictures banner.
Blood Aces, which was published by Penguin Random House in 2015, tells the true story of Binion, who emerged as a founding father of modern Las Vegas. He was a racketeer, a family man, a killer, a philanthropist, a friend to the downtrodden and an enemy to be feared. His rise to power, and his ability to stay there, is unmatched in the American underworld. Though he could barely read or write, Binion used native intelligence, personal charm and innate ruthlessness to build a gambling kingdom. After a bloody criminal career in Depression-era Dallas, he left Texas one step ahead of the sheriff. With a million dollars in cash and a couple of machine guns in the trunk of his Cadillac, Binion headed for Vegas.
The project will be overseen by Ley Line’s newly hired head of television, Patton Valentine, who was one of the execs who launched the Epix network and also worked at Lionsgate, Davis Entertainment and Pop. The deal was brokered by David Patterson at the Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency & Rich Green at The Gotham Group.
Headington said, “I have always been fascinated by Benny’s story. When I read Doug’s book, I was deeply impressed with the exhaustive research he had done, and thought television was the perfect medium to take advantage of the wealth of material.”
“Benny Binion was a complex and fascinating character, and one of the great untold stories in American criminal justice,” added Swanson. “I’m very happy that the telling of Benny’s extraordinary tale is now in the capable hands of Ley Line Entertainment and Friendly Films.”
“Benny Binion was a one of a kind American character that does not come along often,” said Friendly. “Blood Aces is the definitive source on Binion’s life and a natural choice for a series depicting the formative years of the Vegas story as well as Binion’s lasting impact on Sin City.”
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