Former hostage, ex-husband in rival movie deals

Mon Oct 25, 2010 5:03am EDT
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By Alex Ben Block

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - For six years, four months and nine days, Colombian senator and presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt was held hostage by terrorists in the South American jungle. Now her story is being developed for the screen in very different ways in Hollywood's latest example of dueling movie projects.

The Kennedy/Marshall Co. has acquired rights to Betancourt's recently published book, "Even Silence Has an End: My Six Years of Captivity in the Colombian Jungle." On Sunday, a spokesperson for producer Kathleen Kennedy confirmed that work is under way on a script based on the book, which is Betancourt's story about what happened while she was held and her eventual rescue in July 2008.

Separately, Los Angeles-based Venezuelan-American writer-director Betty Kaplan has acquired rights to two books written during Betancourt's captivity by Juan Carlos Lecompte, who was her husband. His Spanish-language books -- "In Search of Ingrid" and "Ingrid y Yo: A Sweet and Sour Freedom," tell the story of his love and the search for Betancourt throughout her captivity. Shortly after her return, they divorced amid accusations of infidelity on both sides.

Betancourt, who has Colombian and French citizenship, lives in France, where her case and its aftermath have been headline-making events. After her rescue, she was greeted by France President Nicolas Sarkozy and first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and given the Legion of Honor among other awards.

Both film projects will deal primarily with the period of her captivity, though apparently in different ways.

The Betancourt book was written for Penguin Press, which signed her to a $1 million publishing deal in 2008. It is exclusively about the captivity, which has been the subject of other books that have raised questions about her behavior during that period.

The Lecompte books acquired by Kaplan focus on his love for his wife and his search.

"I've never seen a man fight so hard for his wife's freedom and existence for seven years," Kaplan said. "It made me angry how she treated her husband from the moment she descended from the helicopter (after her release)."   Continued...