Although it’s unlikely to be presented as a corrective to Oliver Stone’s much-criticized conspiracy-theory thriller “JFK” (1991), a Tom Hanks-produced drama about President Kennedy’s assassination can be expected to bring a level of sobriety to the subject, especially given the likely orbit of its timing.
It’s not known yet if the film, “Parkland,” will be completed by November 22, 2013 – the 50th anniversary of the president’s death – or if Hanks will appear in it. It is named for the Dallas hospital where Kennedy, his alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald (on November 24, 1963), and Oswald’s murderer Jack Ruby (in 1967) all died.
Variety reported yesterday that Hanks and Gary Goetzman will produce the movie through their Playtone company. It will be written by Peter Landesman, who will also make his directorial debut on the picture.
Landesman is the author of “The Girls Next Door,” a controversial New York Times article about sex trafficking that became the 2007 Kevin Kline movie “Trade.” He has also written a screenplay about FBI agent Mark Felt, who in 2005 admitted to being “Deep Throat,” supplier of the crucial information that led to Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward’s exposure of the Watergate burglary; that project is with Playtone at Universal. In addition, Landesman wrote the hostage thriller “The Mission” and adapted Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer detective mystery “The Galton Case,” both for Warner Bros.
The Variety article intimates that “Parkland” will be an ensemble film similar to Emilio Estevez’s 2006 “Bobby,” which depicted the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy and events surrounding it. Among the characters will be “an FBI agent, a young doctor, a reporter, several Secret Service agents, Kennedy’s staff, Oswald’s older brother, Jackie Kennedy, and [Abraham] Zapruder.”
It was Zapruder who, on his 8mm Bell & Howard Zoomatic Director Series Model 414 PD camera, filmed the 26.6 seconds footage that caught Kennedy’s shooting – the most famous and complex home movie in history. Stone paid approximately $85,000 to use the footage in “JFK,” but whether Landesman will incorporate it or simply render Zapruder’s experience on the day hasn’t been disclosed.