Spacey meets Abramoff in prison to prep for film

Two-time Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey has met with Jack Abramoff at a federal prison near Cumberland to prepare for his leading role in a film about the disgraced Washington lobbyist, a Hollywood executive said Monday.

Spacey and director George Hickenlooper (Factory Girl) met with Abramoff Friday afternoon to discuss plans for a film called Casino Jack or Bagman, based loosely on Abramoff’s career in Washington, said Richard Rionda Del Castro, chairman of Hannibal Pictures in West Hollywood, Calif.

Rionda Del Castro said he is executive producing, cofinancing and distributing the film.

“Kevin Spacey wanted to get some personal information to be close to this character, and I believe that Abramoff was giving some ideas on the story and the information to make it as precise as possible,” Rionda Del Castro said in a telephone interview.

He said Abramoff has expressed admiration for The Usual Suspects, the 1995 crime film for which Spacey won an Academy Award as best supporting actor. He won the 1999 best-actor Oscar for American Beauty.

Rionda Del Castro said the movie will begin shooting in late May, with a release expected in the summer of 2011.

Spacey publicist Staci Wolfe confirmed that the meeting occurred.

Abramoff defense attorney Abbe D. Lowell didn’t immediately return telephone calls and e-mails from The Associated Press.

Abramoff, 50, is serving time at the prison’s minimum-security camp for offenses stemming partly from a federal probe of influence-peddling in the nation’s capital.

He began serving a six-year sentence in November 2006 for conspiracy, honest-services fraud and tax evasion in the purchase of casino boats in Florida, and was given four years last September for mail fraud, conspiracy and tax evasion. His projected release date is Dec. 1, 2011, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons.

Prison spokesman DeWayne Hendrix declined to comment on Spacey’s visit, citing privacy rules.

Magnolia Pictures plans to release a documentary film about Abramoff titled Casino Jack: The United States of Money late this year, spokesman Arianne Ayers said.

Abramoff is no stranger to Hollywood. He and his brother Robert produced the 1989 Dolph Lundgren action movie Red Scorpion and its sequel, Red Scorpion 2.

The federal correctional complex near Cumberland includes a medium-security prison that houses former Army surgeon Jeffrey MacDonald, whose convictions for the murders of his pregnant wife and two young daughters in North Carolina were the basis for the book and television movie, Fatal Vision.

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