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Angelina Jolie as Kay Scarpetta

April 22, 2009 |  5:21 pm


Angelina Jolie will star as Kay Scarpetta, in a film -- or films -- based on the character created by Patricia Cornwell. Late last year, Cornwell told L.A. Times Dark Passages columnist Sarah Weinman that Cornwell viewed "Scarpetta," the 16th novel in her series, as something of a reset button, returning the focus to the characters and their interactions with each other. But there is also plenty of forensic science -- Scarpetta is a medical examiner -- which made the series' 1990 debut, "Postmortem," stand apart.

Variety reports that with all those books as a resource, "a franchise is hoped for," but, their report adds:

this film won't be tied to a specific Cornwell mystery title. Much the way that Jason Bourne morphed into an action hero in plots not rigidly locked into the Robert Ludlum book series, the opera-loving coroner Scarpetta will be the lead in a suspense thriller in the vein of "The Silence of the Lambs" and "Seven."

With all this attention, it's hard to believe that Kay Scarpetta almost never came to life at all. "Postmortem" was published by Scribner, "with a modest first printing and advance (6,000 copies and $6,000, respectively)," Weinman writes, "that came just when Cornwell was about to give up on writing fiction."

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: AP Photo/Matt Sayles