Hunter S. Thompson work eyed for film


One of Hunter S. Thompson's last works has been picked up for feature treatment that could see Thompson onscreen again, this time as a crusader for justice.

Motion Picture Corporation of America, led by CEO Brad Krevoy, has acquired rights to "Prisoner of Denver," a June 2004 Vanity Fair article co-written by Thompson and the magazine's contributing editor Mark Seal.

"Prisoner" focused on the injustice and abuse of Colorado's legal system that saw 21-year-old Lisl Auman charged with murder when the crime occurred while she was in the back of a patrol car, already in police custody. She was handed a life sentence with no possibility of parole.

While behind bars, she began a correspondence with Thompson. His unrelenting grass-roots activism -- which included enlisting celebrity pals including Johnny Depp, Jack Nicholson, Benicio Del Toro and Woody Harrelson -- and the Vanity Fair piece helped overturn Auman's sentence in 2005.

Seal started out as a police reporter in the 1970s who idolized Thompson and his writing. After he wrote a piece on Aspen, Colo., Thompson called him and told him about the case and asked him to help. Seal soon found himself on the road in what he could only describe as a "Hunter Thompson world," dealing with skinheads, speed freaks and angry cops.

"My first day I was in a female correctional institution, saying a line I had been waiting my entire life to say: 'Hunter Thompson sent me,' " Seal said. "He made being a reporter glamorous and exciting in the 1970s. It was one of the best experiences in my whole journalistic career, and it was one of the best causes of his life."

Thompson committed suicide before the case was overturned.

Krevoy will be producing along with MPCA's Mike Callaghan and Reuben Liber, and Seal. They are looking for writers to adapt the material, with a focus on Thompson and Seal acting as a couple of gonzo Woodward and Bernsteins.

Depp created a version of the man, named Raoul Duke, in Terry Gilliam's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," and Bill Murray played him in 1980s "Where the Buffalo Roam." (Could Depp play the writer again, and play himself at the same time, in "Prisoner"?)

The acquisition of "Prisoner" comes from the MPCA Film Fund, which is backrolling the company's "Deathgames," starring Samuel L. Jackson, Kellan Lutz and Daniel Dae Kim.