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Will America make a film of the Enron scandal

01:00 Mon 22nd Apr 2002 |

A.� A bidding war has started between studios to make the first film on the affair. After all, it has all the ingredients Hollywood looks for in a blockbuster - drama, corruption, heroes and villains, a violent death and a mystery ending.

Four separate film ventures based on the multi-billion-dollar collapse of the energy company are now under way and others may soon enter the field.

When the debacle first broke, few thought it would become dramatic enough to be turned into an interesting film. That changed when violence and tragedy were added as company vice-chairman Cliff Baxter committed suicide in his Mercedes in January.

Q.� Who will make the first film

A.� One film is likely to be based on The Enron Wars, an article by Marie Bremner in the April edition of Vanity Fair.

Bremner's heroine is Jan Avery, a former accountant with Enron who noticed something amiss in the accounts as far back as 1993. Her first assignment was to justify a loss on the books of $142 million.

Producer Scott Rubin of Paramount has optioned the article by Bremner, who also wrote the original article on which the Oscar-winning film, The Insider, is based. That too was a story about corporate malpractice and intimidated whistle-blowers.

Lowell Bergman, the investigative journalist who was played by Al Pacino in The Insider, is also working as a consultant on the Enron-based drama.� Bergman has also made an Enron documentary called The Electric Cowboys. He has said the scandal has all the necessary ingredients for a film.

The forthcoming book, Power Failure by Mimi Swartz, is also seen as a potential basis for the film. It features prominently the Enron whistle-blower Sherron Watkins who is one of the few people to have emerged well in the scandal so far. It is being offered to film-makers as an excellent source by the ICM agency and Watkins is seen as a potential leading character.,

The small screen is also interested in Enron. CBS plans to make a television movie entitled The Crooked E, which is based on the book, Anatomy of Greed, by a young Enron employee called Brian Cruver.

�As the scandal is revealed, more characters are emerging on whom the film could focus, with Kenneth Lay and his wife Linda likely to emerge as lead roles.

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By Katharine MacColl

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