NBC's Lynch movie will focus on Iraqi rescuer

Friday, July 25, 2003

LOS ANGELES -- NBC said it envisions its Jessica Lynch TV movie as an action-adventure with the Iraqi lawyer who contributed to her rescue as the hero.

The film, being made without Lynch's participation, will focus less on her and more on the experience of her Army unit and her rescuers, NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker said Thursday.

"It's really a story of mistakes that were made, and action and adventure," Zucker said. "Quite frankly, Jessica's part of the story is probably the smallest part of the story."

NBC has a deal with Mohammed Odeh al-Rehaief, who mapped out Lynch's location for U.S. Marines. Zucker called him "the brave Iraqi lawyer who saved her life."

The film also is relying on information in the public domain.

A 20-year-old Army supply clerk from Palestine, W.Va., Lynch was captured March 23 after her convoy was ambushed in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah.

She was rescued from a hospital in the city on April 1 after al-Rehaief alerted U.S. forces.

Lynch, who this week ended a long hospitalization in Washington, D.C., has yet to talk publicly about her experience. News reports have tried to fill in the blanks but questions remain, including about how the rescue was conducted.

The NBC movie is being revised to reflect the latest information, Zucker told the Television Critics Association.

"We're on the fifth version of that script. We threw the first one out," he said, adding that production is set to begin within days but changes are continuing to be made. The cast wasn't announced.

He acknowledged that, ultimately, the movie may not offer the definitive account of Lynch's experience.

"Obviously, there's a lot of questions. That's what makes for a great story," he said. "In most made-for-TV movies, they're based on some fact and often there's a little fiction because we will never know for sure what exactly happened."

CBS dropped plans for a Lynch movie, saying it didn't want to be part of a network feeding frenzy.

CBS News had come under scrutiny after sending Lynch a letter that highlighted the prospect of a TV movie and other opportunities at sister Viacom companies while seeking a news interview.

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