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Dusty Road

August 24, 1986

Calendar had a cover story ("The Road to Emporia," by John M. Wilson, Aug. 10) about the Hollywood stampede (dozens of producers) for rights to the story of the Kansas minister who was convicted of murdering his wife and plotting with his mistress to kill her husband.

Well, the stampede to tell the story of Rev. Thomas Bird and Lorna Anderson isn't over.

Screenwriter Lynn Brown Rosenberg has just optioned book rights from Vern Humphrey, Kansas Bureau of Investigation agent. Rosenberg calls him "the key figure in the investigation."

Rosenberg, who is working with book agent Mike Hamilburg of L.A., was one of the final negotiators for the dramatic rights, in association with Blue Andre Productions, and ITC Entertainment. Dramatic rights were eventually optioned by and network commitments given to Henry Winkler, Dick Clark Productions and Zev Braun.

Our article also included descriptions of the town. And two days later, an editorial in the Emporia Gazette by managing editor Ray Call began. . . .

"Pardon us for a minute while we throw up."

We saw Emporia, he said, as "a place where life is stuck in a Leave-It-to-Beaver time frame."

Responded the Gazette: "It is sloppy reporting . . . like describing New York on the basis of life in the Hamptons. Or describing Chicago on the basis of life along the North Shore. Or describing L.A. on the basis of what can be seen in the Valley. . . . (But life in the Valley is far different from life on the Strip in L.A.). . . .

"Yes, (Emporia) has its share of Bible-Belt virtues, but it also has produced a few murderers through the years."

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