Elizabeth Smart movie still possible, family says

— Meetings are still under way about a possible deal to sell TV movie story rights for the family of kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart, a representative for the family said Thursday.

Industry sources told the Los Angeles Times that some producers and networks had lost interest as negotiations made little progress and new details emerged regarding the 15-year-old Utah girl's abduction last year. However, family spokesman Chris Thomas said there had been more than a dozen meetings with producers -- after receiving more than 100 movie inquiries -- and that the Smarts were still "looking into the possibility very strongly."

When the prospect of a movie surfaced -- almost within hours of Elizabeth's location and return last month -- industry sources speculated that the family could garner up to $500,000 for story rights, though some felt any production would need to be set in motion quickly to capitalize on media attention.

NBC, for example, briefly explored trying to turn a movie around in time for the May rating sweeps but is said to have backed away from the project once it was realized that wouldn't be feasible.

After regular media appearances during her nine-month absence, the Smarts have since maintained a lower profile and kept their daughter from the media. According to prosecutors, her ordeal included being sexually assaulted, tied to a tree and threatened by her alleged abductors, Brian David Mitchell, 49, and his wife, Wanda Barzee, 57.

Ed Smart, Elizabeth's father, also will skip the Radio and Television News Directors Assn. convention in Las Vegas, where he had been scheduled to participate in a panel discussion titled "How the Media Treated Me," examining how to handle people thrust into the spotlight under extraordinary circumstances. Thomas said that Elizabeth's uncle, David Smart, would appear in his place.


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