France's Cannes Film Festival has just begun, and along with a host of international films screening for nearly two weeks, filmmakers are shopping pre-production projects in the hope they'll be picked up by big Hollywood players.
One of the movies seeking a buyer in Cannes is The Dating Game. Previously linked to Netflix, the film is a true-crime thriller about late San Antonio-born serial killer Rodney Alcala and a woman named Cheryl Bradshaw.
In 1978, Bradshaw and Alcala met when they were contestants on the popular game show The Dating Game. Bradshaw was invited onto the program to select one of three bachelors to date after asking them a series of questions from behind a partition. Alcala competed for a date with Bradshaw as Bachelor No. 1.
The Dating Game is said to tell the story of Bradshaw and Alcala's brief, albeit stranger-than-fiction, encounter.
Accoring to Deadline, Academy Award-nominated actress Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air, Pitch Perfect franchise) is in "advanced talks" to portray Bradshaw, something likely to improve the film's prospects.
"As popular as the true-crime genre is, we know that audiences have never seen anything quite like this," co-producer Raphael Margules told Deadline.
At the time of his appearance on the game show, Alcala had already killed several people, mostly women. He was arrested the year after The Dating Game episode aired and charged with the murder of Robin Samsoe, a 12-year-old girl from Huntington Beach.
Ultimately, Alcala was sentenced to death for that murder and four others. Officials believe he killed as many as 130 people. Although sentenced to death, Alcala died in prison of natural causes in 2021 the age of 77.
"Looking back, it is chilling to realize that this iconic show celebrating love and romance unknowingly featured a remorseless killer," Matt Murphy, former senior deputy district attorney in Orange County, California, said on a 2021 episode of 20/20 that featured part of Bradshaw and Alcala's story.
The Dating Game film is attached to director Chloe Okuno (Slut) and screenwriter Ian MacAllister McDonald (Some Freaks).
This isn't the first time a media property has latched onto the convicted killer's odd gameshow appearance. In 2017, a TV movie called Dating Game Killer premiered on Investigation Discovery. A 2017 episode of Reelz Channel's Murder Made Me Famous and a 2020 podcast series, The Dating Game Killer, also covered Alcala's crimes.
Five Other San Antonio Narratives That Would Make Great Feature Films
While Rodney Alcala's exploits have silver-screen prospects, here are five more San Antonio-tied stories that Hollywood should consider turning into feature films. Documentary makers have already spotted the narrative potential in each.
Frédéric Bourdin — Audiences love the bizarre, and the story of French conman Frédéric Bourdin has that in abundance. In 1997, Bourdin, then an adult man living in Spain, tricked everyone into believing he was a young boy from San Antonio who had been kidnapped three years prior. His story was told in the critically acclaimed 2012 documentary The Imposter.
Richard Turner — Considered one of the best up-close magicians in the world, Richard Turner's story is even more incredible when you learn that he's blind. The San Antonio resident lost his sight at 9 years old when he contracted a degenerative retina disease. During his career, he was awarded with the Close-Up Magician of the Year Award. Turner's story was told in the critically acclaimed 2017 documentary Dealt.
Tim Jenison — San Antonio inventor Tim Jenison went on a mission to duplicate the painting techniques of 17th-century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. Jenison believed Vermeer used optical devices to aid those creations and embarked on a quest to paint his own Vermeer by using a camera obscura to guide him through the intricate process. His story was told in the critically acclaimed 2013 documentary Tim's Vermeer.
San Antonio Four — During the 1990s, four openly gay women from San Antonio — Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh and Anna Vasquez — went to prison on allegations they gang raped two young girls. With the help of the Innocence Project of Texas, all four women were released from prison years after their convictions. The stories of Ramirez, Rivera, Mayhugh and Vasquez were told in the critically acclaimed 2016 documentary Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four.
Flaco Jiménez — It's time for the origins of conjunto and Norteño music to be explored in a biopic featuring one of San Antonio's most beloved musicians, Flaco Jiménez. Imagine visiting the dance halls of the West Side during the accordion master's rise to fame, all accompanied by a soundtrack of his infectious music. Jiménez's story figured into the critically acclaimed 1976 documentary Chulas Fronteras.
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