Playground Options Documentary ‘The Dog’ For TV Series Development

John Wojtowicz
John Wojtowicz, dark suit, is taken by FBI agents from the FBI building in New York, Aug. 23, 1972, en route to his arraignment at Federal Court in Brooklyn, N.Y. AP Photo/Jim Wells

EXCLUSIVE: Colin Callender’s Playground (Wolf Hall, Howards End) has acquired the television rights to award-winning documentary The Dog to develop as a drama series.

Directed by Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren, The Dog tells the extraordinary back-story of the late John Wojtowicz, the bank robber whose antics inspired Al Pacino’s character in Sidney Lumet’s 1975 classic Dog Day Afternoon.

An official selection at the SXSW Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival, The Dog was lauded by critics upon its release in 2013.

In the film, a Brooklyn bank robbery on a hot August afternoon turns into a hostage crisis and media frenzy, when the mastermind behind the heist proclaims, “I’m Gay” and admits he needs the money for his bride’s gender reassignment surgery.

In the documentary, Berg and Keraudren offer a more complicated portrait of Wojtowicz, artfully chronicling his multiples lives as a Catholic mama’s boy, a once closeted bisexual who loved his wife Carmen and their two kids, an unlikely gay activist, a decorated Vietnam vet, a Goldwater Republican, a philanderer, and convict.

“It was a revelation to discover this hidden treasure which falls squarely into the category of truth being stranger than fiction,” said Callender. “It turns out that the bank robbery was only a small part of a much bigger more bizarre drama – a love story gone deliriously wrong, a study of a media circus, and perhaps most meaningfully an exploration of gender identity and the early days of the gay rights movement. Allison and Frank’s captivating documentary provides incredible source material for a compelling television series with a remarkable larger-than-life and morally complex character at its center – a self-delusional fantasist who described his biggest fault as his endless capacity for deep romantic love and whose story of identity, activism, and search for acceptance, feels as urgent as ever.”

Callender, Scott Huff and David Stern executive produce for Playground, with Berg and Keraudren serving as consulting producers.

Added Berg and Keraudren: “We are thrilled to work with Playground to bring this one-of-a-kind story to television and once again take audiences on an epic ride through the journey of The Dog and a group of people who mean so much to us.”

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