I really don't know who thought You Don't Know Jack would be a great title for an HBO biopic about Jack Kevorkian, the doc who spent eight years in jail for his role in assisting the terminally ill to commit suicide, but whoever you are, I applaud you. It adds a smidge of levity (and inappropriate humor, my favorite kind!) to what is sure to be a rather dark feature, indeed.

Al Pacino has taken on the role of Kevorkian, a friendly enough looking older fellow whose name has become synonymous with assisted suicide. (Now is not the time for jokes about his roles in Righteous Kill or 88 Minutes and what effects either might have had on movie-goers.) Kevorkian's interest in dying patients, his creation of a device to assist the terminally ill in their own suicides, and his own work helping 130 people with terminal diseases end their own lives earned him the nickname Dr. Death, about eight years in jail, and a Time magazine cover.

Tony Montana will be joined by Susan Sarandon and John Goodman in You Don't Know Jack, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The pic is a "loose" adaptation of the book Between the Dying and the Dead: Dr. Jack Kevorkian's Life and the Battle to Legalize Euthanasia by Neal Nicol and Harry Wylie. I haven't read the book, but it seems like a somewhat empathetic look at this controversial man. Noted political activist Sarandon has been cast as Janet Good, an advocate of the right-to-die movement who took her own life because of pancreatic cancer.
John Goodman will also co-star in Jack as Nicol, one of Kevorkian's supporters and helpers. THR reports, "Nicol's medical training as a corpsman and laboratory technician enabled him to assist Kevorkian on many occasions, while his laboratory supply company often provided materials for Kevorkian's efforts." Barry Levinson is directing.

This sounds like an interesting project, and it's just the type of fascinating programming on HBO that keeps all the other networks on their toes. I'm guessing that a biopic like Jack would be a much tougher sell to a studio, and HBO will offer the type of audience a strange and possibly controversial biopic requires.

Originally, Cinematical reported Barbara Kopple would directing a biopic also called You Don't Know Jack, although that was in October of 2005.

Would you watch a movie about Kevorkian? Is assisted suicide still a hot topic -- maybe one too touchy for studios?
categories Features, Cinematical