Dock Ellis Biopic in Development With David Permut (EXCLUSIVE)

Dave McNary
Variety

Hacksaw Ridge” producer David Permut is developing a movie about the life of the late Major League Baseball pitcher Dock Ellis.

Permut has acquired Joey Poach’s spec script “Dock” through his Permut Presentations company and brought on board Dock Ellis’ son, Dock Ellis III, as a consultant.

Ellis played in the major leagues for 12 years, nine with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and was an outspoken advocate for African-American players, continuing Jackie Robinson’s fight for racial equality in Major League Baseball. He gained notoriety after he retired by disclosing that he had pitched a no-hitter in 1970 while high on LSD.

In 1973, pictures circulated of Ellis wearing hair curlers during pre-game warmups, which led to a magazine story about his hairstyles.

Ellis played on World Series champion teams in 1971 with the Pirates and in 1976 with the New York Yankees. He retired in 1979 and subsequently admitted that he had never pitched a game sober and ultimately sought treatment for his alcohol and drug addiction. He then dedicated the rest of his life to counseling those suffering from substance abuse problems specializing in counseling professional athletes before dying of a liver ailment in 2008 at the age of 63.

“I think Dock’s story is an inspiring and timely one that deserves to be told now more than ever,” Permut told Variety. “The character of Dock is sure to attract a major star and filmmaker.”

Permut began developing “Hacksaw Ridge” in 2001 when he heard about Desmond Doss — the only conscientious objector to ever be awarded a congressional Medal of Honor for heroism for saving 75 men during the Battle of Okinawa. The film, directed by Mel Gibson with Andrew Garfield starring as Doss, has generated strong reviews and performed solidly for Lionsgate in the U.S. with $34 million in its first 12 days.

Permut is also a producer on the upcoming Jack Black-Jenny Slate movie “Polka King,” a biopic  based on the documentary, “The Man Who Would be Polka King,” following the rise and fall of Jan Lewan, a Pennsylvania polka sensation. Permut’s credits include “Face/Off,” “Charlie Bartlett,” “Youth in Revolt” and “Match.”

Poach is repped by Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment.

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