HBO injects Kevorkian into film slate


HBO Films is developing a movie about Jack Kevorkian, the advocate of doctor-assisted suicide who was paroled from prison in June.

The film focuses on the development of Kevorkian's controversial methods and subsequent action involving physician-assisted suicide, which led to his eight-year imprisonment in Michigan.

Neal Nicol and Harry Wylie's book "Between the Dying and the Dead: Dr. Jack Kevorkian's Life and the Battle to Legalize Euthanasia" is being used as source material.

Steve Jones and Glenn Rigberg are executive producing, while Nicol is serving as a consultant. The script is being written by Adam Mazer, who co-wrote the film "Breach," released this year.

Kevorkian assisted in at least 130 suicides and had beaten the state court system in Michigan numerous times, but he was convicted in 1999 after he willingly sent a videotape of himself euthanizing a terminally ill man to CBS' "60 Minutes."

He received a 10- to 25-year sentence for second-degree murder -- serving his sentence in a maximum-security prison in Michigan -- but earned time off for good behavior.

Jones -- who has been working on this project for a few years -- noted that it marks the first time Kevorkian has authorized any media-based project surrounding his life and efforts in assisted suicide.

"He's a living icon, and he's led one of the most unique lives there is; there's not a dull moment," Jones said. "He doesn't grant interviews readily, but now he wants his story to be told. Whether or not you agree with his views or actions, one thing is for sure: His passion is something to be in awe of. He gave up eight years of his life to make a point."

Mazer added that the project's aim is not to attempt to change anyone's views on euthanasia but is intended to bring to light the many parts of Kevorkian's life that people don't know.

"At the time of his sentence, he was probably the most recognized doctor in the world," Mazer said. "Most of what we know of him has been told through the media and headlines, but he's a very complicated and complex man, and a lot of things about his personality and background have never really been shared with the public, including his great intelligence and terrific sense of humor."

Also involved in the project are associate producers Troy Powers, Stephen Markey III and Drew Gallagher.

Mazer is repped by Endeavor, Rigberg Entertainment Group and attorney Mitch Smelkinson. Kevorkian's attorney is Mayer Morganroth.