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Image: Jim Morrison 1970
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Singer Jim Morrison, seen here in 1970, died in 1971. But like Elvis, he lives on in fiction and rumor.
By
TODAY.com
updated 10/10/2011 3:54:31 PM ET 2011-10-10T19:54:31

What if Jim Morrison wasn't really dead? Where would The Doors frontman be today?

Few people are better equipped to speculate on that than Morrison's former bandmate, Ray Manzarek. His 2001 novel, "The Poet in Exile," tackles that scenario, and now it's being turned into a movie.

Publishers Weekly called the novel both "earnest" and "clumsy." In it, Manzarek imagines a version of himself receiving letters from a fictionalized Morrison who's now living as a family man in the Seychelles. Reviews on Amazon.com are mixed, with one reader saying "Manzarek has Morrison apologize (over and over) for how poorly he treated the other band members."

Slideshow: Remembering Jim Morrison 40 years after death (on this page)

In a press release about the upcoming movie, Manzarek doesn't sound quite so self-obsessed as that reviewer makes him out to be. “The number one question I get asked is, ‘Do you think Jim Morrison’s really dead?’” he's quoted as saying. “All I can say is, I personally have not seen or heard from Jim since he left for Paris 40 years ago. And I miss that guy. He was a poet. A Dionysus to my Apollo. A great performer, a shaman. And a damn good friend."

Tim Sullivan will write and direct the film with Manzarek as a producer. Sullivan has an interesting background with some horror and retro elements, including producer titles on "Snoop Dogg's Hood of Horror" and the upcoming "Chillerama."

Story: Winehouse just latest musician to die at 27

The film is expected to film in 2012 and be released in 2013. It's too early for any casting information, but for our money, it'll be tough for an actor to create as believable an onscreen Morrison as Val Kilmer did in Oliver Stone's 1991 film. Of course, this Morrison isn't supposed to be the real deal, so an actor could have a little more flexibility with the role. People are strange, that's for sure.

Was Jim Morrison a genius, or overrated due to the legend that grew up around his early death? Tell us on Facebook.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper is TODAY.com's movies editor.

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints

Photos: Remembering Jim Morrison

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  1. Rise of the Lizard King

    In 1968, LIFE magazine did a feature called "Wicked Go The Doors: An Adult's Education by the Kings of Acid Rock." For the the piece, photographer Yale Joel captured the darkly sensual lyricist and lead singer the band, Jim Morrison, who died 40 years ago on July 3. LIFE.com presents these fascinating color portraits of the 24-year-old rocker/poet, plus a few never-before-published shots of the Doors playing New York's Fillmore East.

    LIFE.com: Remembering Jim Morrison (Yale Joel / TIME & LIFE Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. 'Enchanted in the mind'

    At the time of his 1968 New York portrait session with Yale Joel, Morrison and his Doors bandmates had released two albums, and were about to record a third, "Waiting for the Sun." As their popularity grew, 33-year-old LIFE writer Fred Powledge aimed to "dig" the weird but compelling music his 9-year-old daughter was into. "The most satanic thing about The Doors is Jim Morrison," Powledge wrote. "Morrison is 24 years old ... and he appears -- in public and on his records -- to be moody, temperamental, enchanted in the mind and extremely stoned on something." (Yale Joel / TIME & LIFE Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. In action

    Jim Morrison leaps onstage during a Doors concert at New York's legendary but short-lived Fillmore East, where everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Jefferson Airplane performed.

    "Our live concerts are totally different from our records," Doors drummer John Densmore told the LIFE writer at the time. "I mean, it's theater."

    LIFE.com: Remembering Jim Morrison (Yale Joel / TIME & LIFE Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. When the music's over ...

    From his behind-the-scenes perspective, LIFE's Yale Joel snaps drummer John Densmore, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, and Morrison mid-show at the Fillmore East.

    LIFE.com: Remembering Jim Morrison (Yale Joel / TIME & LIFE Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Mr. Mojo Risin'

    Morrison earned a reputation for turning in hypnotic, almost trance-like performances during which he often improvised poem passages as The Doors gained popularity in the late 1960s. (Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images ) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. The Doors

    Morrison, left, reportedly met keyboardist Ray Manzarek, second from left, on the beach in Venice, Calif., in 1965. Manzarek liked Morrison's poetry and thought it would work as rock lyrics. Shortly thereafter, guitarist Robby Krieger, second from right, and drummer John Densmore joined them to form The Doors. (K K Ulf Kruger Ohg / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Long-term companion

    Morrison poses with long-time girlfriend Pamela Courson during a 1969 photo shoot at Bronson Caves in the Hollywood Hills, Calif. The couple had a stormy relationship. Courson found the singer dead in a bathtub in their Paris apartment on July 3, 1971. She died in 1974. (Estate Of Edmund Teske / Getty Images ) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Break on through

    The Doors (from right, Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore) gained national fame in 1967 when their single "Light My Fire" rose to No. 1 on the Billboard pop singles chart. (Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Among the greats

    Morrison strikes a pose in 1970. He is ranked No. 47 on Rolling Stone magazine's "100 Greatest Singers of All Time." (Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Last resting place

    This Sept. 7, 1971, photo shows the grave of Morrison at the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris. (Joe Marquette / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Singer, songwriter, poet

    Morrison is widely regarded as one of the most charismatic and iconic lead singers in rock history. (Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images ) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Mug shot

    This Sept. 28, 1963, photo released by the Florida Dept. of State archives, shows the arrest mug and record of Morrison. The singer was arrested following a football game at Florida State University. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Last address

    During the last weeks of this life, Morrison took up residence in an apartment on the rue Beautreillis on Paris' Right Bank. While there was no autopsy performed on the singer, it is believed Morrison died of a heroin overdose, based on the account given by his girlfriend, Pamela Courson. (Marc Piasecki / Getty Images ) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Yale Joel / TIME & LIFE Pictures
    Above: Slideshow (13) Remembering Jim Morrison
  2. DreamWorks Pictures
    Slideshow (15) October movies - October
  3. The Weinstein Company
    Slideshow (17) October movies - September

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