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Katharine McPhee to star in Robert Durst Lifetime biopic

Kathie Durst, right, and Robert Durst in the

Kathie Durst, right, and Robert Durst in the late 1970s at a family Christmas party at the McCormack home in New Hyde Park. Credit: Jim McCormack

Lifetime has begun production on a movie about Kathleen McCormack Durst, the New Hyde Park native and first wife of real-estate scion Robert Durst, who disappeared in 1982. Katharine McPhee, the 2006 “American Idol” runner-up and current “Scorpion” star, will play Kathleen Durst.

“The Lost Wife of Robert Durst” is based on investigative journalist Matt Birkbeck’s 2003 book, “A Deadly Secret: The Strange Disappearance of Kathie Durst.” Daniel Gillies (Elijah of both “The Vampire Diaries” and “The Originals”) will play Robert Durst.

A Lifetime news release describes the plot thusly: “Young and wide-eyed, she [Kathleen] falls in love with charming, yet quirky real estate scion Robert Durst, only to find their marriage turning stranger, darker and more disturbing as time passes.”

Kathleen Durst, a graduate of New Hyde Park Memorial High School, first met her future husband at a party in New York City. They married in 1973. On Jan. 31, 1982, the 29-year-old, who was a fourth-year medical student at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, went missing from the couple’s Westchester County house. Robert Durst later said she got on a train alone to New York City and he did not see her after that. Her body has never been found. The family intends to file a wrongful-death lawsuit against Durst, who they believe murdered her and hid her remains. .

Robert Durst, 74, pleaded guilty in Louisiana on gun and drug charges and awaits trial in Los Angeles in the 2000 Beverly Hills killing of his close friend, writer Susan Berman. He has not been charged in the disappearance of Kathleen Durst. He has long denied that he murdered his wife — although he appeared to confess during an unguarded moment caught on tape, which was the climax of HBO’s 2015 documentary “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.”

A Lifetime spokeswoman said the movie will likely air in the fall.

This will be the second film about Kathleen Durst. “All Good Things” (2010) with Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst was based on her disappearance, but used fictional names for the leads.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated when Kathleen Durst went to medical school.

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