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Gary Younge
Coming soon on TV: Hillary, Her True Story (starring Sharon Stone?)

The Arts and Entertainment cable channel is developing a film on the New York senator which it hopes will be ready to air in 2004 - year of the next presidential election.

The channel has approached Sharon Stone to play the lead role, but no casting decisions have been made about who will play Bill Clinton or his former lover, Monica Lewinsky. The film will follow the lives of the former first couple from Mr Clinton's presidential election through his impeachment and end with Mrs Clinton's election to the Senate.

The film, based on the bestselling book by Vanity Fair writer Gail Sheehy, Hillary's Choice, will be the second detailing their marital difficulties, following the adaptation of Joe Klein's book Primary Colours, a fictionally glossed account of their White House years.

"It's a fascinating story and one that has absolutely captured the imagination of the public," said Robert DeBitetto, senior vice-president of programming for A&E.

"I can't think of a more emotional or relevant personal history or saga than that of Senator Clinton. We think it'll make fantastic entertainment... The story's got all the elements. It's got humour, pathos, drama, relevance and topicality," he told the New York Post.

The one word he missed out was controversy. Sheehy's book, which was published in 2000, is an unauthorised biography, regarded as fair but hardly flattering. "She is angry," wrote Sheehy after meeting Mrs Clinton following their first meeting. "Not all of the time, but most of the time."

Moreover, the veracity of leaked excerpts from her book have already been called into question, even though it does not come out until early next week. Mrs Clinton relates that she first heard the truth about the Lewinsky affair on August 15 1998, when her husband told her.

Yet Washington Post reporter Peter Baker, author of a book on the scandal called Breach, says she had learned it from Mr Clinton's lawyer two days before then. "I stand by what I wrote," said Baker in the Washington Post.

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