First a quick recap…
Just over 3 years ago, Nick Cassavetes (son of indie film trailblazer John Cassavetes) signed on to direct a biopic on the life of notorious 1980’s drug dealer Rick Ross (not the rapper).
The film was to, reportedly, explore Ross’s ingenious and complex scheme of the crack cocaine trade in Los Angeles during the early 80’s – the height of his success – moving 100 kilograms of cocaine daily, which was distributed across the country – product that he claims was supplied by Nicaraguan rebels/Contras.
“My brother was a mercenary. He worked in Central America training the Contras, so in a way the story is personal to me… The fact that our government may have been complicit in destroying an entire community of people makes the story personal for everyone,” Cassavetes said at the time, adding, “if I had to compare this movie to another that’s been made in terms of a feeling, a point of view, maybe ‘Traffic.'” Of course referring to Steven Soderbergh’s Oscar-winning 2000 film that explored the illegal drug trade from several different POVs.
Ross said the film would focus mostly on his adult life, though not including the 20 years he spent behind bars.
“We become addicted to the power, the money, the manipulation, the whole lifestyle, the whole drug culture… And you are going to get to see this in the movie, how a guy goes from being a novice to being a drug expert,” Ross said.
Skip ahead to today, as I learned that a 2-part documentary on Ross will air on Al Jazeera America, next month.
Titled “Freeway: Crack in the System,” per the press release, the documentary tells the story of “broken dreams, drug dealers, dirty cops, and government complicity – more compelling than fiction,” and further, “the real story behind America’s longest war.”
This documentary by award-winning filmmaker Marc Levin (“SLAM,” “Mr. Untouchable,” “Brick City”), while chronicling the extraordinary rise, fall and redemption of Freeway Rick Ross, exposes how the infiltration of crack-cocaine destroyed inner-city neighborhoods across the country. At the center of it all, Ross, a street hustler who became the King of Crack, and journalist Gary Webb, who broke the story of the CIA’s complicity in the drug war.
The 2-parter features exclusive interviews with Freeway Rick Ross; Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Gary Webb; his source Coral Baca; and wife Susan Webb; former Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff Robert Juarez; drug trafficker Julio Zavala; and many more.
“Freeway: Crack in the System Part 1” premieres on Sunday, March 1 at 10pm ET; and “Part 2” premieres on Sunday, March 8 at 10pm ET.
“Part 1” encores on Sunday, March 8 at 9pm ET, immediately before “Part 2” debuts.
The film’s original title track, “Crack in the System,” is written and performed by Snoop Dogg.
So while it’s not the scripted feature film that had been in development, it’s likely one step closer, as there clearly is interest in Ross’ story. And this Al Jazeera America project just might stimulate progress on the scripted feature.