Retired postal inspector Tony Muljat doesn't look much like actor Dean Stockwell, who plays a Muljat-like character in an upcoming movie on the Unabomber.

But then, USA Network's quickie portrayal of the life and crimes of the elusive serial bomber may not much resemble the grinding 18-year investigation that ended with the arrest of suspect Theodore Kaczynski.Muljat spent 11 years on the trail of the Unabomber as a member of two investigative task forces. He is serving as a consultant on the movie - scheduled to air Sept. 11 - which went into production after Steve White Entertainment bought the rights to Mul-jat's story.

If Muljat's presence lends the enterprise any credibility, it is lost on the Kaczynski family, which trumped investigators' stalled efforts by going to the FBI with suspicions about the former-math-professor-turned-hermit.

The family's lawyer worries the production will be an "unfair and unjust" exploitation of a tragedy.

Kaczynski, 54, is charged in seven of the 16 bombings linked to the Unabomber that killed three and injured 23. He has pleaded not guilty and is in a Sacramento jail awaiting trial.

"I became obsessed with the case," said Muljat, speaking the other day at the National Guard terminal where crews were filming a re-enactment of the Una-bomber's 1978 attack on an American Airlines jetliner.

"I stuck around because I knew he'd make a mistake," said Muljat, a Sacramento, Calif., native who claims he spent so much time contemplating the bombings "that I became Ted Kaczynski."

"I put myself in his shoes," a process he claims gave him unique insights not always shared by the dozens of federal and state investigators working the Unabom case.

For example, Muljat was always convinced the bomber was older than FBI profilers thought. He based that belief partly on the bomber's writing ability and the books he used to hide some of his explosive devices.

And he disagreed with the commonly held belief that the bomber lived in northern California where several of the bombs were mailed or exploded.

After years of stumping investigators at every turn, the Una-bomber left what Muljat likened to a damning fingerprint - a rambling, 35,000-word anti-technology manifesto that struck a chord with David Kaczynski, Theodore's younger brother.

David Kaczynski, already uneasy because locations where the Unabomber had struck closely matched his brother's wanderings, was deeply troubled by the writings because they resembled letters he'd gotten from his brother living in a one-room shack in Lincoln, Mont.

He hired a private investigator and a lawyer and went to the FBI in February. Over the next two months, federal investigators, including Muljat, became convinced Kaczynski was their man.

USA Network's movie, boldly titled "Unabomber: The True Story," is being filmed entirely in Utah. It follows a trio of story lines: the investigation - headed by a postal inspector based on Muljat - the victims and the relationship between the brothers Kaczynski.

In the past two weeks, scenes were shot at the University of Utah, a post office, the airport and in Big Cottonwood Canyon at a mockup of Ted Kaczynski's Montana cabin.

Ian Valentine, vice president for long-form programming, said USA Network has "the opportunity to deliver a responsible and accurate account of the Unabomber case from the perspective of Tony Mul-jat." He said the film treats David Kaczynski "very fairly and sympathetically, and all of the Kaczynski family material is based solely on public record."

Producer Frank Fisher believes the key is the siblings' relationship.

"That is the relationship, the tension between those brothers, that makes the story so compelling," Fisher said from the set Wednesday. "It's the psychological aspect that intrigued me."

Muljat also believes the brothers' relationship played some role in Theodore Kaczynski's alleged 18-year bomb spree. He makes much of the fact that a 1980 bomb sent to an airline executive was hidden in a book entitled "Ice Brothers."

"I think that was a message," he said.

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Fisher said the movie makers have had no contact with David Kaczynski, who has refused all interviews except one with the New York Times.

"But there hasn't been any noncooperation," he said.

Fisher needs to watch his mailbox.

David Kaczynski's attorney, Tony Bisceglie, fired off a letter to USA Network on Wednesday, saying the Kaczynski family wants nothing to do with such films.

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