The whole PTL scandal appears well on its way to CBS. Wife-husband producers Pat and Bill Finnegan ("King," Jane Fonda's "Doll Maker") are developing a two-hour TV movie about evangelist Jim Bakker's celebrated tryst with Jessica Hahn and his subsequent fall from grace with wife Tammy Faye.
Said a CBS spokesman, "It's not committed to film yet, but it's definitely in the works."
"We have the rights for Jessica Hahn," Bill Finnegan told Outtakes. He said the dramatic rights came in a package deal with journalist Art Harris, who will be a co-producer. Finnegan didn't know if he would or could purchase rights from the Bakkers. He's looking for a "prestigious" writer to do the script.
Finnegan said that Harris, an Atlanta-based free-lance writer who "did the first article that appeared on her (Hahn) that was in the Washington Post," and who is "kind of an expert on the facts," approached him when the brouhaha first broke in March.
Finnegan said he initially was reluctant to get involved, because he found "the whole idea kind of a sleazy." But then "Harris came to L.A. three weeks ago. He convinced me that there's really a very good story there."
The Finnegans, who met with CBS two weeks ago and firmed a deal, said they're approaching the story "from a very serious point of view, not an exploitation point of view. I do not see this as an exploitation film. I see it more of an 'Elmer Gantry'--as a study of what happens when things go awry with somebody who has the position that he has. I would describe it as a serious look at people in this predicament."
It's unlikely, he added, that Hahn or the Bakkers would be asked to play themselves.
Finnegan wasn't alone in the chase. Hahn attorney Dominic Barbara, contacted in Long Island, told us that two networks made offers and he's fielded inquiries from several "major" movie companies and four independent producers. Ten publishing houses expressed interest in her story, Barbara claimed, and a book deal will be announced shortly. And a weekly syndicated TV series just made an offer for Hahn to act in five episodes--as the daughter of a minister. He declined to identify any of the companies.
Twelve pages of "The Jessica Hahn Story, Part II" appear in the December Playboy, which hits newsstands Tuesday.
"It picks up after the rape," said a Playboy spokesman: "The cover-up, hush money, media madness, holy war--the moral of the story."