SBD/October 25, 2012/People and Pop Culture

Armstrong's Downfall May Make Story More Appealing For Hollywood Adaptation

Armstrong might be asked to repay up to $16M in victory earnings
Following the recent USADA report on cyclist LANCE ARMSTRONG and the stripping of his seven Tour de France titles, the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Kit & Siegel ask, "Will Hollywood race to adapt the cyclist's antiheroic story?" Two "once-promising Armstrong dramas quietly have been dropped" including Sony's hopes for "a project based on Armstrong's 2001 best-selling memoir 'It's Not About the Bike.'" A source said that the studio "let go of the property more than a year ago," though movie producer FRANK MARSHALL is "developing it on his own." A project from producer ED PRESSMAN "had Armstrong's backing until he threw in with Marshall." With a script by "Olympic documentarian BUD GREENSPAN, who died in 2010, it's considered inactive." Several agents said that Armstrong is now "a much more compelling figure to Hollywood." One agent said, "He has become a polarizing figure." To that end, "Paradigm is shopping screen rights to cyclist TYLER HAMILTON's tell-all, 'The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs.'" Sources said that the book "was taken to studios by various producers." The studios "passed, but as the Armstrong story unfolds and sponsors like Nike drop him, interest has picked up." One sports films producer said, "It's too tragic right now. You would need some sort of redemption at the end" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 11/2 issue).

PAYBACK: BLOOMBERG NEWS' Levinson, Williams & Duff noted Armstrong "may lose as much as $200 million in future earning potential, more than the wealth he accumulated in a championship cycling career now gutted by revelations of doping." Armstrong now "faces demands that he repay up to $16 million in purses and bonuses from those victories." He has a net worth "estimated by Forbes at $125 million" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 10/24). In N.Y., O'Keeffe & Thompson cite a source as saying that Dallas-based insurance company SCA Promotions "will send a formal request" to Armstrong and his reps, perhaps as early as today, "demanding repayment of bonuses the company insured for the disgraced cyclist for his Tour de France wins in 2002, 2003 and 2004, as well as legal fees and interest." The source said, "It could be $12 million, probably more" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/24). DAILY VARIETY'S A.J. Marechal noted Discovery Communications "made a point of distancing itself from its past association with Lance Armstrong on Wednesday as the cyclist grapples with the expanding scandal over doping allegations." Discovery in '04 "became the title sponsor of Armstrong's team," but since '07 "has had no formal ties to Armstrong" (VARIETY.com, 10/24).

THE FUTURE OF LIVESTRONG: Deutsch Inc. Chair DONNY DEUTSCH said Livestrong can survive Armstrong's scandal, albeit “barely.” Deutsch: “Some celebrity should step up and say, ‘I'm going to take that mantle (from Armstrong).’ To me, if there's a great athlete out there who cares about this cause, which we all do, step up and say, ‘You know what? This is bigger than any one person,’ which, of course, it is and fill that mantle.” NBC’s Willie Geist said “it’s not fair but it's reality” that Livestrong is “going to be held responsible for the actions of Lance Armstrong." Geist: "There are a lot of good people working there, have raised a ton of money. But they'll be held responsible for what Lance Armstrong did. You hope some people can overlook it but if you're giving money and you have a choice between that organization, one of the many others, you probably go the other way.” TV personality STAR JONES said, “I raise money for charity for cancer organizations and I think it probably needs to move to the real people every day who are living with cancer. Because the Livestrong Foundation really doesn't raise money for research, it raises money for the survivors and if that becomes the face of the foundation, then I do think it can survive” (“Today,” NBC, 10/25).
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