THE KIDNAPPING of Exxon executive Sidney Reso, which led to his death, went down in FBI annals with that of the Lindbergh baby. The alleged kidnappers were apprehended and are being held for trial. It is time for the wheels of justice and the wheels of show biz to take over.
While the law is interested in punishment, others are concerned with cashing in on the dastardly act.
Zeigfried Diamond is one of the biggest theatrical agents dealing in major crimes of the century. He told me that the Reso kidnapping was a sure-fire Book of the Month, a top-rated TV miniseries or a $50 million movie. Irene and Arthur Seale -- she confessed, he didn't -- are the kind of criminals that Hollywood producers dream of.
His phone rang while we were talking. Zeigfried picked it up. "No, I don't have the Seales signed up yet, Harry, but I'm close, awfully close. The Son of Sam is recommending me and I don't want you to talk to me unless you're thinking in seven figures. We're predicting 'Batman' grosses -- that's if we want to go the miniseries route. Our clients were hoping to make it into a four-parter with Farrah Fawcett portraying Irene Seale and Jack Palance playing her husband Arthur.
"Harry, a million dollars is not going to buy this property. What we have to sell is a love story that went awry. According to the wife, Arthur beat her up very badly for 25 years. I'm pitching a wife-abuse story with a kidnapping and a murder thrown in. We haven't even discussed foreign rights yet. If you want to get back to me, fine, but I can't hold it for you."
He hung up.
"I've never seen you so excited," I said.
"You get a story like this once in a lifetime. As you are aware TV is attracting more and more criminals to its shows. Anyone on death row can now be booked on the evening news. I won't let the Seales go on the air without a fee. I'm getting calls from all over the country. '60 Minutes,' 'PrimeTime,' 'Current Affair' and 'Donahue' have been driving me nuts. They want to put the kidnappers on for nothing. I told them we don't do free until the book comes out."
"Has Barbara Walters checked in?"
"Yeah, but I told her I didn't care if she had done Bush, Perot, Clinton and Yeltsin. My clients want to be paid for their crimes."
"Even Barbara Bush doesn't talk to Walters like that."
Zeigfried said, "Ted Koppel also called. If either Seale gets the chair he wants to do a Town Meeting of the Air from the gas chamber."
"Any word from David Letterman?"
"Letterman is no good for convicted killers because the warden won't let them stay up that late."
"Are crime and show business as lucrative as everyone thinks they are?"
"Bigger. The American public has a hunger to read about and see people who have done terrible things. In the old days no one would put them on the air. Now we can get millions of dollars for criminals like the Seales. Of course, they need a good agent. With all the con men and sharpies in Hollywood, a murderer would be a fool to try to make his own deal."
Art Buchwald is a syndicated columnist.