The chase is on. After spending 25 years in prison, the first eight in solitary confinement, former Black Panther Party leader Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt is now the subject of a manhunt for the dramatic rights to his ultradramatic life.

Pratt was released on $225,000 bail on June 10, pending a new trial. Pratt, who had failed in four previous petitions to have his conviction overturned, has maintained his innocence all along in a 1968 robbery-murder.

Now, Pratt has joined with his lawyer of 23 years, San Francisco attorney Stuart Hanlon, and ex-O.J. Simpson Dream Teamer Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. to investigate book, movie and other opportunities. That suggests the siren-song of Hollywood is too tempting--even for a man who, when he left the courtroom, told an autograph-hungry crowd: "It's not about the Hollywood thing. That's not what's important."

Celebrity-attorney-to-the-celebrities Cochran, no stranger to the "Hollywood thing," told the Los Angeles Times this week that 10 to 12 inquires have been received from "major and prominent" filmmakers, both white and African-American, who want to make a movie about Pratt's life.

And it's not your ordinary life. Pratt--a decorated Vietnam War veteran with two Purple Hearts, two Bronze Stars and a Silver Star--was convicted in 1972 of murdering schoolteacher Caroline Olsen and shooting her husband on a Santa Monica tennis court. He tried unsuccessfully four times to have the verdict overturned. Finally, a sympathetic judge agreed to a new trial after reviewing information that the chief witness against Pratt was an FBI informant who lied under oath. When the decision to let Pratt out on bail was announced, cheers erupted in the courtroom.

The melodrama continued to unfold after Pratt returned home to Louisiana on June 14 with his estranged wife, Ashaki Pratt, and two children. They visited Pratt's 93-year-old mother, Eunice--who last saw him in 1974. And Geronomo and Ashaki, who separated while he was in prison, said they'd rekindled their romance and would remarry.

As Cochran told the Times, "This is a great story with a real message about a person who showed real character and integrity." Translated: It won't be long before a Pratt-pic hits multiplexes.

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