Some people don’t know when they’re beat. Even though the taxman is gunning for him, and with the possibility of a 3-year jail stretch looming over his head for tax evasion, Wesley Snipes isn’t taking his predicament lying down.
Having recently turned in a reasonable performance in the pretty terrible ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’, Snipes is planning further work in the shape of an ambitious feature dedicated to FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover’s grubby campaign to discredit Martin Luther King Jr.
Snipes is producing under his Maandi Media Productions banner and hopes to play a role of some kind in the Justin Stamm-scripted project, entitled ‘Code Name Zorro’, though presumably his inclusion would require domestic shooting only, since he is currently still under the beady eye of the law and not able to leave the country.
The film will focus on former assistant William Sullivan’s involvement with Hoover’s covert operation to undermine MLK’s influence in the civil rights movement by tarnishing his reputation, and Sullivan’s subsequent guilt that lead to him approaching journalist and friend Jack Taylor in the hope that his story would expose his former boss as a hypocritical tyrant. Of course, Sullivan was killed in a “hunting accident” shortly after the book was finished, and shortly before he was due to testify before the House of Select Committee on the shootings of both MLK and JFK, which adds another intriguing dimension to the story.
Sullivan is on the left of the below photo, with Hoover on the right…
Hopefully, Snipes won’t be seduced by the Oliver Stone ‘JFK’ method of sensationalism in lieu of the facts and won’t allow what is a compelling conspiracy theory to cloud the film’s artistic approach. Militant films are all well and good, but as soon as they become preachy (like most of Snipes’ former associate Spike Lee’s body of work) I lose interest, and this project has that potential stamped all over it.
Thankfully though, Snipes seems to have a clear head about the film’s tone:
It’s not so much the persecution angle. I was attracted to the whistleblower dynamic. It’s a challenging situation for a man to be in, to be among the shadowy and most powerful men in the world, who exposed information to mislead the public. What an interesting conflict and life dilemma. It makes for good drama and there are great roles for actors to play these historical figures who are part of a whole story that many of us weren’t aware of.
Not only that, the actor has confirmed to Deadline that he would be interested in a fourth Blade movie:
Maybe we get around to doing another Blade, except, from what I’m reading, every other actor is talking about playing him, and nobody is talking to Wesley… How strange that they don’t come and talk to me about it.
Perhaps it has something to do with your public image at the minute Mr Snipes? And the possibility that you might be whisked away to jail in the near future for your alleged tax-based transgressions (though I sincerely hope not, as I would love to see ‘Code Name Zorro’ made under his control).
Snipes is on the lookout for a director and actors package that he can sell to studio’s, though as Fleming already states it’s a crowded market;
Lee Daniels has been circling Selma, a drama about Dr. King’s civil rights march; HBO is turning Taylor Branch’s MLK book series into a 7-hour miniseries with Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions, and DreamWorks and Steven Spielberg have Ronald Harwood writing an MLK film being done with his estate. On the Hoover front, Clint Eastwood will direct a film that has Leonardo DiCaprio set to play Hoover.
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Simon Gallagher, OWF’s Horror & Comics Writer