Wright takes on 'Cocaine Cowboys'
EmptyGonzo journalist-screenwriter Evan Wright has moved from American cowboys on the Iraqi frontier to the cocaine cowboys of 1970s Miami.
Wright, who wrote the nonfiction book on which the HBO miniseries "Generation Kill" is based, has closed a deal to write the feature "Cocaine Cowboys" for Paramount. The deal grew out of his work on a parallel book that Crown will publish next year.
Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg have been attached to star in and direct, respectively, the story of Jon Roberts, an injured Vietnam vet by age 20 who ended up involved in gangland takeovers of New York City nightclubs in the early '70s (his uncle was the consigliere to Carlo Gambino). By the end of the decade, Roberts landed in Miami, dealt billions of dollars worth of coke for the Medellin drug cartel and ultimately spent 10 years in prison.
Billy Corben's popular documentary of the same name, released by Magnolia in 2006, covered a slice of Roberts' history.
"It's really an exciting story about the secret history of America," Wright said. "It's also a story that outwardly seems familiar, but the more you get into it, it's never really been told this way. It's about a guy who was a cocaine smuggler in a mafia — we kind of know those stories — but he also worked closely with the government to smuggle arms for the Contras."
Berg and Film 44 cohort Sarah Aubrey are producing with Wahlberg and "Entourage" executive producer Stephen Levinson.
Wright had already been meeting with Roberts, who's now in his late 50s, and his partner Mickey Munday in Florida since February, but he only recently decided to pitch the producers on his "burning desire" to adapt his in-the-works book into a film.
Wright, repped by Endeavor and attorney Alex Kohner, was a Rolling Stone reporter embedded with the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion Marines for two months during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He went on to co-write the HBO miniseries airing this month, and he's adapting his March 2007 Vanity Fair article, "Pat Dollard's War on Hollywood," for Fox and Scott Free Prods. (partialdiff)