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Scandal Pushes Alex Gibney's Lance Armstrong Doc, Biopics Back to Front Burner

Photo of Anne Thompson and Maggie Lange By Anne Thompson and Maggie Lange | Thompson on Hollywood October 25, 2012 at 2:52PM

Hollywood loves a scandal. Stalled interest in disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong is rumbling back to life on the heels of recent revelations. Now that the cancer survivor hero has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, his massive doping scheme has bolstered new interest in his story.
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LanceArmstrong

Hollywood loves a scandal. Stalled interest in disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong is rumbling back to life on the heels of recent revelations. Now that the cancer survivor hero has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, his massive doping scheme has bolstered new interest in his story.   

Oscar-winner Alex Gibney ("Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room," "Taxi to the Dark Side") already has a Frank Marshall-produced documentary in postproduction at Sony. "We followed Lance Armstrong in his 2009 comeback tour all along the way," Gibney told TOH. "We put the film on ice for some time until the resolution of the story, so we now feel it's resolved sufficiently to move to finish it."

Alex Gibney
Alex Gibney

Gibney is trying to get Armstrong to talk and will expand the film with new footage.  He will also change the ending in order to incorporate Armstrong's latest punishment: on October 22nd, Armstrong was stripped of all the cycling titles that he had acquired from 1998 to the present, including his Tour de France championships from 1999 to 2005.

Two fictional takes on Armstrong's rise and fall, Sony's version of Armstrong's memoir "It's Not About the Bike" and a project from Ed Pressman ("Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps"), have been dropped.  The Hollywood Reporter reports that after the past few months' allegations, there's a different story to tell.  One agent explains, "It's not about him rising and becoming the greatest athlete.  He has become a polarizing figure." 

But a producer adds that even though the scandal has upped the dramatic quotient of the Armstrong story, it's "too tragic right now. You would need some sort of redemption at the end."
 

This article is related to: Alex Gibney, Alex Gibney, Documentary, In The Works, IN THE WORKS, Documentaries


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.