Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Producer John Palermo’s Palermo Pictures banner is eyeing a summer start for The Dead Circus, a drama that builds a fictitious storyline into the actual mysterious death of I Fought The Law singer Bobby Fuller. James Marsden, Boardwalk Empire’s Michael Shannon [UPDATE: Shannon's reps said scheduling has knocked him out of the role], Dexter star Michael C. Hall and Oscar winner Melissa Leo are attached. The script is by Adam Davenport and John Kaye, based on Kaye’s novel. Davenport will make his directing debut on the film.

Fuller’s song became a hit in 1966, but a week after, the 23-year-old singer was found dead. It was ruled a suicide even though his body was battered, with gasoline poured down his throat. In the drama, a grieving screenwriter (still to be cast) plunges into a crusade to solve the mystery of Fuller’s death. Leo will play a Manson Family matriarch who comes out of hiding five years after the murder to reveal to the writer that the answer to his questions might be found in 16 mm snuff films buried in Death Valley. Marsden, who stars this weekend in Hop, will play Charles Manson.  Hall will play a corrupt, wheelchair-bound manager of the dead musician. Palermo, who split with longtime Seed Productions partner Hugh Jackman, is solidifying the financing and distribution to start production in L.A.