Good News! Tom Hanks Gets Educated!

Tom Hanks’ production company Playtone set to shoot Dallas-set JFK film, ‘Parkland’ … but where?

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Outside Parkland Memorial Hospital, Jacqueline Kennedy entered the hearse bearing the body of her slain husband on Nov. 22, 1963. (Joe Laird/Staff photographer )

Five years ago came word that Tom Hanks and Fort Worth native Bill Paxton were partnering on a Kennedy assassination drama based on Vincent Bugliosi’s massive book Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, perhaps as a 10-part miniseries for HBO. As Hanks’s Playtone production partner Gary Goetzman told Variety way back when, the mini would posit that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone on November 22, 1963: “I totally believed there was a conspiracy, but after you read the book, you are almost embarrassed that you ever believed it.”

But somewhere between then and now, that project stalled — and now it appears to have been replaced altogether by another Hanks-produced Kennedy drama titled Parkland.

As Variety reported late Thursday, it will be set entirely in Dallas, document the moments leading up the killing of the president and focus in part on Abraham Zapruder, maker of the most famous of all John Kennedy assassination films. Per the trade: “Like Emilio Estevez’s Golden Globe-nominated 2006 drama Bobby, Playtone’s Parkland will be an ensemble film that explores the impact the assassination had on a wide range of characters in and around Dallas on that fateful day, including an FBI agent, a young doctor, a reporter, several Secret Service agents, Kennedy’s staff, Oswald’s older brother, Jackie Kennedy and Zapruder.”

It will be written and directed by journalist-turned-screenwriter Peter Landesman, making his debut behind the camera.

So now, the inevitable question: Will they film Parkland in Dallas? Because industry rumors are the producers are actually considering Austin, which would be … well, unfathomable. Janis Burklund, head of the Dallas Film Commission based out of Dallas City Hall, won’t address those whispers that Dallas will just be used for some exterior shots. But she certainly hopes that’s not the case.

“This is a Dallas story, and it should be told in Dallas,” she says this morning. “The city has had to bear the weight of this incident for 50 years, and to tell the story properly it should be told where it happened. We obviously have a crew here that’s done it before with Oliver Stone [on JFK] and others, and they know how to do this as well as anyone.”

If Parkland goes elsewhere, it would certainly be disappointing — especially since another locally based film, Matthew McConaughey’s Dallas Buyers Club, also appears headed elsewhere.