EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that Oscar-winning screenwriter William Monahan (The Departed) has done a fresh adaptation of the book American Desperado. Now Mark Wahlberg is attached to star and Peter Berg to direct the film. Paramount Pictures is hoping for a start early next year, “but it’s still too early to tell as Bill’s draft just came in”. WME represents all three talents and was instrumental in the project getting together. Wahlberg and Berg just worked together on the Afghanistan war drama Lone Survivor set for a 2014 release by Universal. Latest pic is based on the tell-all with the subtitle My Life — From Mafia Soldier To Cocaine Cowboy To Secret Government Asset by super-criminal Jon Roberts, star of the acclaimed documentary Cocaine Cowboys, and Evan Wright, best known for his bestselling book and HBO series Generation Kill. Their collaboration began with a series of conversations over three years about Roberts’ compelling history as a New York City gangster running guns for the CIA and smuggling tons of cocaine and cash for the Medellín Cartel at the height of America’s War On Drugs during the 1980s. “As Wright’s tape recorder whirred and Roberts unburdened himself of hundreds of jaw-dropping tales, it became clear that perhaps no one in history had broken so many laws with such willful abandon,” Random House said when it was published.
“Roberts, in fact, seemed to be a prodigy of criminality — but one with a remarkable self-awareness and a fierce desire to protect his son from following the same path.” Roberts’ friends and acquaintances included Jimi Hendrix, Richard Pryor, O.J. Simpson, Carlo Gambino, Meyer Lansky, and Manuel Noriega. He surrounded himself with beautiful women, 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.” Roberts already featured prominently in Cocaine Cowboys, the 2006 documentary film directed by Billy Corben about the cocaine-fueled crime epidemic in Miami in the 1970s and 1980s that was the catalyst for films like Brian Da Palma’s Scarface. In other words, Wahlberg who’s great at playing criminals will get to play a pretty fascinating goodfella, and Berg to turn Monahan’s crime script into a hopefully fascinating movie. My question is what do you leave out from Roberts’ resume to keep the film under three hours?