Yes They Cannes: Producers, Agents Shopping Dallas Buyer's Club 'Round France
After 10 long years of maybes, doubtfuls and dunnos, it would appear that The Dallas Buyer's Club, the true-life tale of Ron Woodroof, is closer to becoming a big-screen reality: Relativity Media today issued a press release announcing that co-producer Robbie Brenner is shepherding the project from limbo to multiplex, with, as we noted two months ago, Matthew McConaughey set to star as the heterosexual, homophobic electrician who contracted HIV in 1980, was diagnosed with AIDS in 1986 and went on to found the Dallas Buyer's Club, through which AIDS patients bought life-prolonging alpha interferon smuggled in from faraway places. Hilary Swank is also set to star.
For those needing a refresher, yet again, may I direct your attention to former Observer editor Julie Lyons' story about Woodroof that first appeared in the Dallas Times Herald on September 11, 1990. It's a riveting thriller that begins thusly:
The thin man in gray approached customs with contraband -- 36 vials of a life-renewing drug packed in dry ice in a black leather briefcase -- bound for Dallas.
It should have been easy to slip out of Tokyo, but there were problems. A conspicuous frosty patch had condensed on the surface of the briefcase, and smoke seeped through its sides as dry ice evaporated.
Ron Woodroof, an experienced smuggler, moved fast. He slipped the vials into his pocket and popped open the briefcase for Japanese officials, understandably suspicious of smoking luggage.
"Why are you carrying dry ice around the world?" one asked.
"Would you believe," Woodroof replied, "that it's a fetish of mine?"
At this very moment, agents and producers are at the Cannes Film Festival attempting to sell the U.S. and international rights. But it's a long way from asking the standard question we love to pose whenever locally based projects are announced: Yes, but will it shoot here? Relativity tells Unfair Park they haven't begun scouting. (When the movie was at Universal, with Brad Pitt attached, producers did visit with Dallas Film Commission officials about making the movie here.) But, hey, Wooderson can always come back to toss balls with Colby Lewis. And, clearly, Hilary Swank has two good reasons to come to Dallas any time she wants.
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