Dueling Pablo Escobar Projects: Stone vs. Carnahan

Who knew that years after his death, notorious Columbian drug dealer Pablo Escobar would have not one, but two high-profile movies starring high-profile actors about his life and times? Which leads me to this: My mom was wrong — crime does pay! Well, kind of. Escobar is dead, after all, but his legend (or is that infamy?) lives on. Variety reports on two dueling Pablo Escobar projects — one by “Smokin’ Aces” director Joe Carnahan, set to star Javier Bardem and Christian Bale called “Killing Pablo”, and another by Oliver Stone and Antoine Fuqua called “Escobar”. Stone and Fuqua have the upper hand; their film is fast-tracked for an early 2008 start, while Carnahan can’t go into production yet because he’s committed to directing George Clooney in “White Jazz,” based on the James Ellroy book.

You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that Stone and Fuqua will be trying to romanticize much of Escobar’s life, while Carnahan will be giving you the race to kill Escobar, and basing his movie on Mark Bowden’s book of the operation. You can read as much between the lines, including the fact that “Escobar” will be using Roberto Escobar Gaviri, Escobar’s brother and confidant during his reign, as one of their “consultants”.

Berfield said that while Escobar’s brother is a consultant with a first-hand perspective on how his brother built a drug empire, the sibling doesn’t have script approval.

“My brother will be portrayed as a ruthless head of the Medellin cartel,” Escobar Gaviria said in a statement. “This is just 10% of the story. The other 90% is the story others trying to portray him simply don’t have.”

Stone said: “This is a great project about a fascinating man who took on the system. I think I have to thank ‘Scarface,’ and maybe even Ari Gold.”

“Escobar was Robin Hood, a saint to some, and the devil to others,” Fuqua told Daily Variety. “He’s a fascinating study in contrasts… He came from the wrong side of the tracks with nothing, but when he died was worth $3 billion… He was one of the most successful criminals we’ve ever seen, and that’s why I find him such a compelling subject for a movie.”

I get the feeling “Escobar” will be as authentic and “real” as Oliver Stone’s “JFK”.

Now I’m not saying Carnahan’s version will be better, but I’m pretty sure — or at least 99.9% sure — that he won’t be going out of his way to turn the guy into Robin Hood.

A bit of amusing trivia that is neither here nor there: One of the producers of Stone and Fuqua’s “Esocbar” is the kid that plays “Reese” on FOX’s “Malcolm in the Middle”. No, really!

Pablo Escobar Projects: Stone vs. Carnahan

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