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Mineo rights go to Travolta and Oprandy

By Chris Gardner

Filmmaker Joey Travolta and Dale J. Oprandy have closed a deal for a one-year option of the feature film and television rights to the life story of Sal Mineo, 25 years after the murder of the actor. 'The pact marks the first authorized for Mineo's life story.

Travolta and Oprandy will guide the project through development as executive producers, with Travolta set to direct a feature based on Mineo's life. Travolta said he hopes to start lensing the project early next year, with Oprandy's Oprandy Enterprises providing part of the financing.

Oprandy will co-write the screenplay with co-producers Dan Goldman and Mark Basil.

The rights were secured from Mineo's estate in a deal closed by Tom Korman, Mineo's former agent and executor of his estate.

"He was an American icon, but a lot of people still don't know him or know of him," Travolta told The Hollywood Reporter. I have known his body of work for years and have always been a fan of his."

Mineo was 37 when he was murdered outside his West Hollywood apartment Feb. 12, 1976. His killer, Lionel Ray Williams, was later convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Mineo's Hollywood career began during the 1950s, and he went on to star in more than 30 films, most notably opposite James Dean in "Rebel Without a Cause," which earned Mineo an Oscar nomination. It also was during the making of "Rebel" that Dean and Mineo became close friends.

Mineo starred with Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint in "Exodus," a performance that landed him a Golden Globe for supporting actor in 1961 as well as an Oscar nomination. His other credits include "Giant" and "Dino."

"Sal was a great guy, and he deserves to have some sort of memory - he was a great actor and a lot of people have forgotten about him," Korman said.

Travolta's directing credits include "Partners," "Enemies of Laughter" and "Dumb Luck in Vegas"