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Unabomber's capture grabs Hollywood's attention

Ted Kaczynski’s life to be the subject of at least 3 upcoming TV movies

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Unabomber suspect Theodore Kaczynski has been generating a lot of manuscripts lately, and they’re not those long-winded diatribes against technology. Now awaiting trial in Sacramento, he’s the subject of at least three Hollywood projects: the USA Network’s Unabomber: The True Story, airing Sept. 11, with Dean Stockwell (Quantum Leap) as a postal inspector and Robert Hays (Airplane!) as Kaczynski’s brother, David; an HBO film based on Mad Genius: The Odyssey, Pursuit, and Capture of the Unabomber Suspect, a book by TIME senior editor Nancy Gibbs and others; and a CBS movie to be produced by Edgar Scherick (Ruby Ridge: An American Tragedy). ”Our movie will be concerned with the impact on the [Kaczynski] family,” says Scherick. ”I don’t think it’s particularly interesting to see a guy leaving a small town with a package under his arm and mailing it.” Since Kaczynski is only allegedly the Unabomber, projects based on his life and crimes may be a little premature. But that doesn’t seem to bother most Unaproducers. ”[This is] an incredibly dramatic, personal story,” says Steve White, exec producer of the USA movie. ”The story of the two brothers, one brother having to turn the other in to the FBI — to me it has almost biblical proportions.”

Speaking of locusts, does this mean a TV trend is returning? The Unabomber films seem to signal a throwback to the ripped-from-the-headlines telepics. ”I don’t know that [they] went away,” says Len Amato, producer of the HBO movie, who offers this credo: ”If something’s sensational enough, there will always be an opportunity to do a quickie TV movie.”