The heroic effort to rescue the 33 miners in Chile may be over, but their time in the international spotlight has only just begun. The intense interest in their plight has already triggered a documentary on Discovery while at least two — possibly three — books are in the works, to say nothing of the cash offers that foreign publications have reportedly offered the miners in exchange for their personal stories.
Discovery was the first network out of the gate with an announcement that it had exclusive footage of the rescue, including interviews with miners and their families. Discovery Latin America snagged a front row seat early and was able to negotiate exclusive access early with the engineers and technicians on site. The one-hour special will be simulcast on Oct. 28 on Discovery Channel, Discovery en Espanol in the U.S. and on Discovery Channel across Latin America and will air in Europe, Africa and the Middle East in November.
“The story we’re focusing on is how they did it — how do you get out 33 guys trapped a half mile down,” says Brooke Runnette, an executive producer for Discovery Channel U.S. “Our Latin America division was on this right away before anybody knew they were alive in the beginning. So our producers have been embedded in the story and have been shooting for months.”
What’s yet to be told in a more comprehensive form are the personal stories, though we might not have to wait for long to read what it was like for Super Mario Sepulveda and his compadres to subsist on tuna and milk rations in a tight space. ABC News reporter Jeffrey Kofman, who’s been covering the story since August, says he knows of at least two books that are already in the works — one of which is being written by The Guardian’s Jonathan Franklin. Word is the latter tome may have already generated interest from a U.S. filmmaker.
With any luck, some Hollywood producer will secure the rights to the miners and, at the very least, turn them into a TV miniseries, says Lindy DeKoven, NBC’s former head of movies. “There is so much drama in this. You’ve got the before stories — who are the families? You can get to know them before the event, during the event, and after the event. It’s got tremendous, emotional drama and personal stories, which would make for a great miniseries.”
Sadly, the Big Four nets have pretty much given up on making movies-of-the-week; only Lifetime has remained in the MOW biz, while HBO has picked up the baton when it comes to compelling biopics and real-life stories. “People get a lot of the details from the news channels so they don’t have to wait six months to see what really happened [from a TV movie],” explains DeKoven.
Still, the miners’ plight could inspire a comeback, of sorts, of the miniseries because audiences have yet to really learn what life was like for those 33 trapped men. “This is a wonderfully uplifting story and given the times and the economy and what is going on in our lives, is something that people would like to see in six months,” says DeKoven. “It’s a wonderful story because fortunately, everything ended so beautifully. There are so many great stories here that I bet will come out afterwards, and we won’t be deluged by what is happening to each of these people. If producers followed this story and got the rights to these people, they could probably reveal a lot of more in the aftermath.”