George Hickenlooper, Kevin Spacey meet with jailbird Jack Abramoff

George Hickenlooper, the native St. Louisan who directed the Warhol-era flick “Factory Girl” and the rock doc “Mayor of the Sunset Strip,” is profiling a particularly infamous character in his next film: lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is currently in prison after multiple convictions related to shady casino operations. Hickenlooper is preparing a movie based on Abramoff titled “Casino Jack.” The director and star Kevin Spacey were recently allowed to visit Abramoff at federal pen to get the lobbyist’s side of the story.

Among other crimes, Abramoff was accused of shaking down competing tribes of American Indians who were seeking casino licenses and playing them against each other.

The more you learn about Abramoff, the creepier his story gets. He also flew planeloads of American legislators and manufacturers to the Northern Marianas Islands, a U.S. protectorate where officials wanted to operate sweatshops with virtual slave labor. (Abramoff also had a brief career in Hollywood, where he produced a couple action movies starring Dolph Lundgren.)

I read the Norman Snider script, which was originally titled “Bagman,” when I flew out to Los Angeles for the Oscars. I’ve been making notes to send to Hickenlooper, whom I consider a friend, but he hardly needs my help. With the great Spacey, who starred in the similarly smart “Recount,” the project is in good hands. Filming is expected to start next month.

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