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William Monahan Adding Name to Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg’s ‘American Desperado’

Written by on December 13, 2012 

Update: Deadline have learned that Berg will direct American Desperado, making for a reunion with his Lone Survivor star; production is expected to begin around the start of 2014. You can read the original story below.

Mark Wahlberg is committed to cocaine.

I’m not even being libelous! For some time, the actor’s been talking up a narrative spin on Billy Corben‘s documentary Cocaine Cowboys, a once-planned reunion for he and David O. Russell. (Maybe Jennifer Lopez, too.) While that, by my count, appeared to have (once again) been done for — if going this long was any sign of things — a reworked version of the project has been planted at Paramount. Some big names are also taking spots in the production’s circle, and the pop star isn’t even one of them.

First off, Deadline tell us the film is now called American Desperado, a title which hews closer to Cocaine Cowboys‘ source material: Jon Roberts and Evan Wright‘s non-fiction account, American Desperado: My Life As A Cocaine Cowboy. Coming in to give this a greater sense of shape is The Departed scribe William Monahan, who’ll be rewriting a draft originally penned by the latter author; business-wise, Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson are still producing, but now in conjunction with his Lone Survivor director, Peter Berg. (In the meantime, Cocaine Cowboys is being translated into an HBO series executive produced by Michael Bay, with whom the actor worked on Pain & Gain. Hollywood is a smaller place than you really think.)

As was the case with Roberts and Wright‘s book, American Desperado follows the former’s journey from Vietnam veteran to pusher for Miami’s Medellin drug cartel, which eventually collapsed as these things only can. The story has a quality to it which seems to reflect Goodfellas, only, this time out with a less-sympathetic lead and even dirtier lifestyle to wade through; Monahan‘s most famous credit then gives this hiring a sense of logic. Judging on how the script turns out, Wahlberg and Berg will try to find a helmer who can carry this project over the finish line.

What do you hope to get from this revitalized take on Cocaine Cowboys?

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