McVicker's one of Houston's top reporters on justice and public safety topics, doing some of his best work at the Houston Press and the Houston Chronicle covering the fallout from that city's infamous crime lab scandal. Perhaps he'll next publish a book on that topic; given the overarching Keystone Kops component to the Houston crime lab story, it might even be the kind of vehicle a comedic Jim Carrey could star in.
Signing Carrey to play Steven Russell, a family man and peace officer turned escape artist and one-man Texas crime spree, and getting McGregor to play his lockup lover, Phillip Morris, means the film will get plenty of attention at Sundance and should have good box-office prospects. Last week, the entertainment industry magazine Variety led its Sundance story with a photo from the film and a first-paragraph mention.Written and directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the screenwriters of the notoriously funny Bad Santa, starring Billy Bob Thornton, I Love You Phillip Morris is being pitched as Catch Me If You Can meets Brokeback Mountain. The film’s 3-minute trailer, all McVicker has seen or wants to see before Sundance, emphasizes comedy over drama and romance....
The story is bizarre but true. Russell met Morris while in the law library of the Harris County Jail. Russell was in for insurance fraud, Morris for forgetting to return a rental car. It was love at first sight. Romance proved the great inspiration of Russell’s life, but it was also his undoing.
Once Morris was out of jail, Russell developed a bad habit: using wily ruses to break out in order to be with him. While free, he compounded his error by pulling clever cons in order to buy Russell a good lifestyle. Clever or not, he eventually was caught again.
“He’s a really personable guy, very charming,” says McVicker, who interviewed Russell dozens of times in the Michael Unit of the Texas prison system, first for the Press, then for his book. “The kind of guy I’d like to have dinner with, he’s really interesting.
“But he’s also a crook.”
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Sundance Film Touted as Brokeback Mountain meets Catch Me If You Can, Set in Harris County Jail
Congrats to Houston writer Steve McVicker, whose nonfiction tale, I Love You, Phillip Morris, will premiere on the big screen at the Sundance Film Festival starring A-list stars Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor. Reported the Houston Chronicle: