Some news: the more I learned over the years about the Hollywood side of my family, the more I realized one of the reasons I was born was to paint their stories — the repeating tragedies and improbable victories, the bloody sacrifices and entertaining misadventures — in as vibrant a Technicolor as I could harness. Now, I can announce something pretty cool, since it’s all official. I’ve teamed with screenwriters Reinhard Denke and his wife, Marilee Albert, to develop a steaming TV series based on my 2015 biography of the uncle I went from despising to worshipping: Strange As It Seems: The Impossible Life of Gordon Zahler (Rare Bird Books). I feel so lucky to be working on this with such quality, gifted people, and equally fortunate to get to depict Gordon as the complicated, compelling character that he was. More soon but for this Pasadena kid, Christmas came early.
For the curious, here’s more (to inaudible trumpet-y fanfare) from the press release …
Mercury Media has optioned its inaugural title, the underdog story of a teenage daredevil who rose from hisdeathbed to reinvent himself into a mini-Hollywood kingpin and globetrotting adventurer. Based on best-selling author Chip Jacobs’ biography, Strange As It Seems: The Impossible Life of Gordon Zahler, Mercury is developing the project as a multi-season series tracing Zahler’s hell-raising past before World War II, his start in Day of the Locust Hollywood, and his evolution, despite being paralyzed from the neck down, into a major industry player and quixotic idea-man. Jacobs was represented in the deal by Northside Services.
The production company, launched by veteran screen/TV writers Reinhard Denke and Marilee Albert, is in preproduction on Denke’s black-listed
script, “Sex, Greed, Money, Murder, and Chicken Fried Steak.” The project, co-produced with Dallas-based Amicus Films, tells the true story of Pricilla Davis, a mother who fights for justice when her daughter is murdered by her estranged husband, a Texas oil billionaire.
Also in preproduction is Denke’s “Mizmoon,” a film about a radicalized college student swept up in the Symbionese Liberation Army’s ‘70s crime spree. Jacobs’ most recent books include the Los Angeles Times bestselling novel Arroyo and the true crime caper The Darkest Glare: A True Story of Murder, Blackmail, and Real Estate Greed in 1979 Los Angeles. Smogtown: The Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles, the award-winning social history he penned with William J. Kelly, is in development.