Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tom Hanks talks about possible JFK project on HBO

by CHRIS VOGNAR / Movies / Dallas Morning News

Tom Hanks is always on the lookout for new projects to make through his production company, Playtone. Now Dallas is on the list of his possible destinations.

Vincent Bugliosi, the author of Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, a 1,612-page tome that debunks conspiracy theories to establish that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing President John F. Kennedy, says he optioned the book to Playtone after its 2007 publication.

Bugliosi says it’s his understanding that the production team, which also includes actor Bill Paxton, hopes to film a 10-part miniseries and have it air on HBO near the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination, in November 2013.

Early last year, Hanks made his first public comment on the project to Time magazine. “We’re going to do the American public a service,” he said. “A lot of conspiracy types are going to be upset. If we do it right, it’ll be perhaps one of the most controversial things that has ever been on TV.”

Hanks reiterated his interest during a recent visit to Dallas to promote his new movie, Larry Crowne. But he says it’s not a done deal.

“Boy, do we want to do it,” he said. “But there’s really only one way to it, and that’s to have a substantial amount of time so you can go in much, much deeper than ever before and you’re not just repeating what have become the mythical highlights of those four days. That gets to be very expensive, and that gets to be a problem on the corporate level. I can’t say we’re definitely doing it.”

Paxton, who was born and grew up in Fort Worth and starred in the Playtone-produced HBO series Big Love, attributes his interest in the project to having accompanied his father to the appearance Kennedy made in downtown Fort Worth, hours before he was killed on Elm Street in Dallas.

Source: Dallas Morning News

Monday, June 13, 2011

Retired FBI Agent, James P. Hosty, Jr., dead at 86

by BILLY COX / Herald-Tribune

Less than two weeks before President Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, an agitated Lee Harvey Oswald entered the FBI's office in Dallas and delivered an ultimatum to agent James P. Hosty, Jr.

The visit led to a government cover-up that further complicated one of the darkest chapters in American history.

Hosty, who retired in Punta Gorda and subsequently fought for decades to salvage his reputation, passed away Friday at age 86 in Kansas City, Mo., following a brief bout with cancer.

In his 1996 memoir Assignment: Oswald, the counter-espionage agent attempted to set the record straight by taking aim at former FBI director-for-life J. Edgar Hoover: "I ... came to understand that one of our jobs was to protect the Bureau's image at all costs, even if it ran roughshod over individuals or principals."

Working at the FBI station in Dallas, in October 1963 Hosty was directed to keep tabs on Oswald, the former Marine who defected to Russia, only to return in 1962. Hosty began making queries and focused largely on Oswald's Russian-born wife, Marina.

On Nov. 12, 1963, Oswald visited the FBI office and left a terse handwritten note to Hosty, who was in the field at the time. It reportedly stated: "If you have anything you want to learn about me, come talk to me directly. If you don't cease bothering my wife, I will take appropriate action and report this to the proper authorities."

James Hosty's son, Tom, who helped his father write his memoirs, said his dad was juggling 40 cases at the time. Tom Hosty said his father's top priority was to assess Oswald's potential as a broader national security threat.

But following the sniper assassination at Dealey Plaza, the FBI was thrown into turmoil.

James Hosty had his first and only meeting with Oswald during Oswald's initial interrogation by members of the Dallas Police Department. Hosty wrote two pages of handwritten notes during the Oswald interrogation. Oswald was shot dead by Jack Ruby on Nov. 24, 1963.

Hosty's name and number were discovered in Oswald's address book. Looking to assuage Hoover's fears that Oswald might have been an FBI informant, Hosty's supervisor, Gordon Shanklin, ordered Hosty to destroy the note Oswald left him.

Hosty was temporarily suspended from duty when the truth came out during congressional hearings about his having misled the Warren Commission. But Hosty remained with the FBI until he reached mandatory retirement age in 1979.

Tom Hosty said he and his father decided to tell his story in a book following Oliver Stone's "JFK" docu-drama in 1991. Stone portrayed Hosty as Oswald's handler in a conspiracy frame-up.

"Dad laid it all out there," said Tom Hosty from Indianapolis. "He was determined to get the truth out. It was a very positive thing; he felt he could rest at peace."

A World War II veteran and 1948 graduate of Notre Dame, the Chicago native was with the U.S. Army as it liberated the emaciated survivors of the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau. In 1990, he and his late wife Janet moved to Punta Gorda, where he was an avid consumer of history books and CNN newscasts in retirement.

He lived in Florida until February, when his family brought him back to Kansas for hospice care. Hosty's funeral will be in Roeland Park, Kansas, on Saturday. Hosty had nine children, 22 grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.

Source: Herald-Tribune / Sarasota, Florida

[Editor’s Note: I had the great pleasure to interview Mr. Hosty at length in 1996. I found him refreshingly candid, knowledgeable, and extremely helpful. He was an invaluable resource for my own work and many others. His first-hand knowledge, experience, and insight into one of the darkest days in American history will be sorely missed. Goodnight, Jim.]