So, you might not remember this, but a few years ago, David O. Russell and Mark Wahlberg were looking to make a feature adaptation of the critically acclaimed documentary “Cocaine Cowboys.” The 2006 film centered on the notorious ’70s drug dealer Jon Roberts who moved from New York, where he was involved in gangland takeovers of the city’s nightclubs, to Miami, where he was set up with a powerful drug cartel. And it seemed like the Russell/Wahlberg project was really coming along. “We’ve the rights of those guys, Jon Roberts and Mickey Munday, and set it at Paramount as well. Evan Wright did a pass on the script and will have somebody else doing another,” Walhberg said at the time. But the filmmaker and actor fell out, with both moving on to other separate things, but it seems Wahlberg really wants to make the movie about this story.
And so, the Paramount project lives, but instead of being based on the documentary, it was a new script coming from William Monahan (“The Departed,” “Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For“) and is based on the book “American Desperado,” co-authored by the aforementioned duo of Jon Roberts and screenwriter Evan Wright. And we can see why Wahlberg wants this story up on the big screen. It’s a juicy lead role, focusing on a man who did it all — ran guns for the CIA, smuggled cocaine and cash for the Medellín Cartel, rolled with celebs and powerful figures like Jimi Hendrix, Richard Pryor, O.J. Simpson, Carlo Gambino, Meyer Lansky, Manuel Noriega and many more. Here’s the book synopsis from Amazon:
American Desperado is Roberts’ no-holds-barred account of being born into Mafia royalty, witnessing his first murder at the age of seven, becoming a hunter-assassin in Vietnam, returning to New York to become — at age 22 — one of the city’s leading nightclub impresarios, then journeying to Miami where in a few short years he would rise to become the Medellin Cartel’s most effective smuggler.
But that’s just half the tale.
The roster of Roberts’ friends and acquaintances reads like a Who’s Who of the latter half of the 20th century and includes everyone from Jimi Hendrix, Richard Pryor, and O.J. Simpson to Carlo Gambino, Meyer Lansky, and Manuel Noriega.
Nothing if not colorful, Roberts surrounded himself with beautiful women, drove his souped-up street car at a top speed of 180 miles per hour, shared his bed with a 200-pound cougar, and employed a 6”6” professional wrestler called “The Thing” as his bodyguard. Ultimately, Roberts became so powerful that he attracted the attention of the Republican Party’s leadership, was wooed by them, and even was co-opted by the CIA for which he carried out its secret agenda.
And this is one that everyone involved wants to get moving. Wahlberg’s new bud and “Lone Survivor” helmer Peter Berg is slated to direct, and should all the elements fall into place, this will start rolling in early 2014. Frankly, we’d prefer this to the B-movie chum Wahlberg has been doing lately (“Contraband,” “Broken City,” “2 Guns“) so let’s hope the wheels are truly turning. [Deadline]