By Peter White, Deadline; June 16, 2022, DEADLINE
Netflix is hoping to solve the legend of D.B. Cooper, the mystery man who hijacked a Northwest Airlines passenger jet in November 1971 and escaped with $200,000, never to be seen again.
The streamer has ordered “D.B. Cooper: Where Are You?!” from Fulwell 73 Productions and director Marina Zenovich’s PMZ Pictures.
The series looks at the 50-year quest to find Cooper, whose identity remains one of the great mysteries of the 20th century and only unsolved case of air piracy in commercial aviation history. The program focuses on the ten-year quest by Thomas J. Colbert to find the hijacker. Co-author of the award-winning The Last Master Outlaw, Colbert has long believed he is retired pilot Robert W. Rackstraw – a 4-time felon who died of natural causes in 2019 at the age of 74.
The four-parter, which launches on July 13, marks the first true-crime project for Fulwell 73, which is best known for producing The Late-Late Show with James Corden and Hulu’s The Kardashians.
There have been multiple suspects in the case over the years, including the possibility that Cooper was a Boeing employee, that he was former WWII paratrooper Kenneth Peter Christiansen, former leather worker and Korean War vet Lynn Doyle Cooper, or recreational pilot Barbara Dayton, who underwent gender reassignment surgery in 1969.
The FBI suspended the active investigation in 2016 and sealed the Cooper records, which includes three pieces of evidence found on the plane – a clip-on tie, a mother-of-pearl tie clip and eight cigarette butts.
Following the case-closing, Colbert immediately launched a federal suit for the hijack files. A half-year later, a D.C. judge agreed with him and his 40-member volunteer investigators, now known as The Case Breakers. According to Outlaw (in an expanded second edition) and a series of exclusive London Daily Mail articles, the released secret FBI memos led to strong evidence that veteran Rackstraw was in fact Cooper and also a freelance pilot for the CIA, for decades – before and after the hijacking.
The doc also includes contributions from Jonna Mendez, ex-CIA Chief of Disguise, Geoffrey Gray, author of Skyjack: The Hunt for D.B. Cooper, and Bryan Burrough, author of Days of Rage and Public Enemies.
Marina Zenovich, who recently directed HBO Max cult series The Way Down, directs with a creative team that also includes Emmy Award-winner composer Blake Neely, and graphic designer EJ Kang, who has worked on The Morning Show and Game of Thrones.
“I’m excited to bring the D.B. Cooper story to the world,” said Zenovich. “It’s an all-American adventure with many bizarre twists and turns and I’m honored to have worked on it with such a world class creative team.”
It is a co-production between Fulwell 73 Productions and PMZ Pictures with Leo Pearlman and Sheldon Lazarus exec producing for Fulwell 73 and P.G. Morgan and Zenovich exec producing for PMZ Pictures.
Pearlman added, “Marina, P.G., Blake and EJ have produced a stylish, original and most importantly fun series that Netflix viewers will really want to dig into.” ##
FYI: Now in its second addition, Colbert says: “Thanks to co-writer Tom Szollosi, this is the only hijacker book with awards for true crime. And there’s no coincidence that it also has the highest number of 5-star ratings and reviews on Amazon – now at 157. Our standing offer: If you don’t have a great read, your money back – and in six years, we’ve had no takers!”