EXCLUSIVE: Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson and Archie Gips’ production company Unrealistic Ideas is teaming with producer Van Echeverri for a documentary feature about the FBI’s takedown of USC football player-turned-drug kingpin Owen Hanson.
“Unrealistic Ideas has a strong track record in the true-crime space, and the story of Owen Hanson jumped out at us,” said Unrealistic Ideas President/Partner Gips. “This is a working-class guy who worked hard to get into USC and then used the business skills he gained through his education there to create a global drug empire. We’re looking to explore how that happened and how it all fell apart.”
Hanson began dealing recreational drugs and steroids to teammates in college during the early 2000s, ultimately building a violent empire that operated in U.S., Central and South America and Australia. Arrested in September 2015 and sentenced in late 2017 to more than 21 years in federal prison, Hanson was ordered to pay a $5M criminal forfeiture, which included $100K in gold coins, luxury vehicles, jewelry, vacation homes, a sailboat and interests in several businesses.
The FBI teamed with the New South Wales Police Force in Australia to nab Hanson and uncovered an illegal sports-gambling, money-laundering and drug-trafficking enterprise of thousands of kilograms of illegal narcotics that led to Hanson. More than 21 of his associates also were arrested.
The FBI employed an array of sophisticated investigative techniques, court-authorized electronic surveillances, informants and undercover agents to bring Hanson down. One of the key dominos leading to his demise was professional gambler-turned-FBI source R.J. Cipriani aka Robin Hood 702, who was tasked by Hanson to gamble $2.5M through the drug lord’s laundering scheme. Robin Hood 702 lost the money in blackjack, spurring Hanson to make death threats, including sending Cipriani photos of his deceased mother’s defaced headstone, photos of his wife along with her personal information and a video showing beheadings.
Among Wahlberg’s Unrealistic Ideas’ documentary fare are the HBO docuseries, McMillion$, which received five Emmy noms, the IDA nominated Run This City and Discovery special The Lost Lincoln.
Recently, Deadline told you exclusively that Unrealistic Ideas took rights to bestselling author Mark Shaw’s nonfiction book, Collateral Damage: The Mysterious Deaths of Marilyn Monroe, Dorothy Kilgallen and the Ties That Bind Them to Robert Kennedy and the JFK Assassination with plans to develop the IP into a documentary feature film.
Echeverri’s docuseries credits include See No Evil, An Unexpected Killer, True Dating Stories, among others.
Wahlberg is repped by WME, Leverage Management and Sloane, Offer, Weber & Dern.
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