More than four months after her rescue at an Iraqi hospital, Pfc. Jessica Lynch is close to signing her first media deal to tell her story, the New York Times reports. It would be with NBC, which has been preparing for several weeks to shoot a movie about her rescue, furiously rewriting the script as new and often contradictory details have emerged about her ordeal.
If Lynch does sign with NBC, there’ll be even more rewriting. As it stands, the movie (yes, it’s called ”Saving Private Lynch”) is less about her than about her rescuers, including the Iraqi lawyer who helped lead soldiers to her, and who sold the rights to his story to NBC. But Lynch’s participation would turn the film into an authorized biopic focusing primarily on her. (Of course, reports that she suffered from amnesia and remembers little about the attack in which she was injured, or her rescue a week later, may mean she’ll have little to offer other than her stamp of approval.) On Tuesday, NBC announced the casting of Canadian actress Laura Regan (who starred last year in the monster movie ”Wes Craven Presents: They”) as Lynch. The network plans to start shooting within two weeks in order to complete the movie in time to air during November sweeps.
It’s not clear how much NBC would pay Lynch. She’s also seeking a book deal, the Times reports, with the hope of rushing the book into publication in time to coincide with the airing of the TV movie. The likely author would be Rick Bragg (recently fired from the New York Times for taking credit for the work of a freelance subcontractor), who has spent time with the Lynch family. Complicating any deals are Army regulations that prohibit personnel from profiting from their experience during their service, though Lynch is due for a medical discharge soon.
Competition among the networks for Lynch’s story has been fierce. In the hopes of securing her first news interview, CBS sent her family a letter touting the network’s synergy with other arms of parent company Viacom (which include MTV, Paramount Pictures, and publisher Simon & Schuster). After critics raised conflict-of-interest charges, CBS honcho Leslie Moonves called that letter a mistake. On Wednesday, NBC denied that its offer for the TV movie was tied to efforts to land an interview with her for NBC News. ”No interview is set,” NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker told the Times. ”The news folks are chasing her on their own.”