Osama’s demise becomes Hollywood prize

By Matthew Bramlett |Staff Writer|

It’s been a little more than a week since the unexpected assassination of Osama bin Laden, and already Hollywood producers are scrambling to get it to the big screen.

In an industry starving for new and exciting ideas to keep afloat, the bin Laden story has piqued the interests of a number of important and wealthy people, including some familiar faces.

Already, the duo behind the Oscar-winning film The Hurt Locker – director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal – have been developing a story about the hunt for the notorious terrorist leader. The script, tentatively and unimaginatively titled “Kill Bin Laden”, is still in the midst of development hell, but the recent death of bin Laden may have given the project a new life.

It’s not hard to see the final operation that ended bin Laden’s life as something straight out of a textbook Hollywood blockbuster. All the ingredients are there – tension, action, suspense and a ragtag team of Navy SEALs who can easily fulfill a number of cliché personality traits that are found in virtually every war movie.

Boal, who uses his day job as a foreign correspondent to imbed himself in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, had already been tipped off a few months ago about recent (and, ultimately, dead-on) intelligence about bin Laden’s whereabouts, and may include the terrorist leader’s death in the movie.

Billionaire heiress and film financier Megan Ellison may be the ticket for the Bigelow/Boal project to materialize. Her group, Annapurna Productions, is said to be financing the project for a quick release.

In Hollywood tense, of course, ‘quick’ usually means six months to a year. Although that may seem like a large amount of time, history has pointed out that films based on real events that have been rushed into production usually end up terrible, forgettable or both.

Meanwhile, an already-published book about the elite team that killed bin Laden has been contacted by agents and scouts for a possible movie deal, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Howard Wasdin, who wrote the memoir SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper, could not have written the book at a better time.

In this case, however, television may beat everyone else to the punch. Already inundated with constant minute-by-minute documentation of every tiny detail of the bin Laden operation by news networks, television executives speculate that a made-for-TV movie about the death of bin Laden could make it to the small screen no later than Christmas.

Indeed, the National Geographic Channel is already debuting “Bin Laden Dead”, an intricate account of the assassination operation, on May 15.

One can only speculate what kind of film the bin Laden story could generate. Will there be an exasperated-looking leading man, possibly Matt Damon or Jamie Foxx, talking sternly into a walkie-talkie to his superior? How much ‘shaky cam’ will be there? Will the soundtrack feature vaguely Middle Eastern music, coupled with excessive montages of dirt roads and women in burkahs?

It may turn out that the speculation of the movie might be more interesting than the finished product.