By: Joe Strupp
Universal Studios is planning to develop a feature film based on the true story of Gary Webb, The San Jose Mercury News reporter who committed suicide years after his bombshell series on CIA drug activities was questioned, Variety reported.
“Peter Landesman will write the screenplay, based on the two books the studio optioned: ‘Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion,’ by Webb, and Nick Schou’s ‘Kill the Messenger: How the CIA’s Crack-Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb,'” Variety reported. “Scott Stuber will produce with Nick Wechsler; Naomi Despres and Landesman will be exec producers. Webb was vilified by major newspapers after his series was published.”
Webb’s 1996 three-part series “Dark Alliance” claimed that the CIA was involved in the crack cocaine trade and initially drew praise as a piece of investigative reporting. But, after critics began to pick apart some pieces of the series, Webb was accused of sloppy reporting and, later, demoted to a lesser beat at the Mercury News before leaving the paper.
“The film will posit that Webb was mostly right, and that the CIA sought to smear him to cover up a scandal,” Variety reported
He died in 2004 from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head in his home.
“It’s the story of a reporter killed for telling the truth, and it’s poignant and relevant as the CIA and U.S. government continue to make nefarious deals with the devil for what they believe is the greater good,” Landesman told the daily industry paper.
“Schou claims that the journo outlets that attacked Webb’s reporting practically ignored a 1998 CIA admission that Schou said validated Webb’s reportage,” Variety stated.
Landesman, a former correspondent for The New York Times Magazine, has written articles on sex trafficking in the U.S. (which formed the basis for the film “Trade”), and an expose on Russian arms dealer Victor Bout, Variety said. He just finished a film about Watergate “Deep Throat” informant Mark Felt.