Bad News: Tom Hanks' "Parkland" Will be Based On Bugliosi's "Reclaiming History"

Paul Giamatti, Billy Bob Thornton in Dallas-set ‘Parkland,’ which will shoot in … Austin

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Cars from President John F. Kennedy's motorcade are parked outside the Parkland emergency room after he was rushed to the hospital on November 22, 1963. (Joe Laird/Staff photographer)

Update at 2:26 p.m.: Julia Benaroya, a spokesperson for Exclusive Media, says this afternoon that, yes, “the production will be based out of Austin.” But she says in coming weeks, crews will begin scouting locations, and “they will be looking all over and heading to Dallas.” Doesn’t mean they’ll shoot the whole movie here; that’s unlikely, given that Austin’s the home base. “But nothing’s locked in,” says Benaroya. “Nothing’s off the table.”

Original item at 8:35 a.m.: We saw this coming way back in August, when we first heard of the project called Parkland, the Peter Landesman-written-and-directed, Tom Hanks-produced movie about the killing of John Kennedy in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963. Though it had been initially reported that the film “explores the impact the assassination had on a wide range of characters in and around Dallas on that fateful day,” we’d heard shooting would take place in Austin. At the time no one connected to the film would confirm, but city officials were concerned.

Looks like they had every right to be.

Late yesterday Exclusive Media — which optioned Vincent Bugliosi’s book Reclaiming History: The Assassination Of President John F. Kennedy, the basis for the Parkland screenplay — sent out a press release announcing some of the cast: Paul Giamatti, Billy Bob Thornton and Jacki Weaver, the latter best known for her Oscar-nominated role in the Australian film Animal Kingdom. And in the release, it says, “Production is lined up for Austin, Texas, in time for a 2013 release around the time of the 50th anniversary of the tragedy.”

Reached late yesterday, a publicist at Exclusive’s L.A. HQ said that didn’t mean there wouldn’t be some filming in Dallas, perhaps even beyond the inevitable second-unit exteriors. She said she’d get back to us with more details, and left a message Tuesday night; we’ll follow up this morning. But Janis Burklund, head of the Dallas Film Commission based out of Dallas City Hall, said Tuesday evening she’s still had no discussions with execs from Exclusive Media or Playtone, Tom Hanks’ production company. Six years ago, Playtone initially optioned the Bugliosi book with the intention of turning it into a 10-part HBO series with Fort Worth native Bill Paxton, who, when he was 8, saw Kennedy speak in the parking lot of the Hotel Texas on November 22, 1963, and has the photo to prove it.

Exclusive now has a Parkland page on its website, from which we grab the poster you see here and the synopsis below, which says:

From producers Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman and writer/director Peter Landesman, PARKLAND is the true story behind a tragic day in history you thought you knew, but didn’t, and couldn’t, until now … 50 years later.

November 22nd, 1963 was a day that changed the world forever – when young American President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. We follow in almost real time a handful of individuals forced to make split-second decisions after this incomprehensible event that would change their lives and forever alter our world’s landscape: the young doctors and nurses at Parkland Hospital, the chief of the Dallas Secret Service, the unwitting cameraman who captured what has become the most watched and examined film in history, the FBI Agents who had gunman Lee Harvey Oswald within their grasp and Vice President Lyndon Johnson who had to take control of a country in a moment’s notice. Thrust into a scenario of unprecedented drama with unimaginable consequences, these key characters respond with shock, outrage, determination and courage. Woven together, their seemingly disparate perspectives make one of the most thrilling and powerful stories never told.

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