By Maya Pope-Chappell
After shopping his story to major movie houses in Hollywood, “Freeway” Ricky Ross has decided to go independent.
“I’ve met with almost everyone in Hollywood,” said Ross, who was a mastermind of the crack-cocaine trade in Los Angeles in the 1980s. “All of them wanted to do the story but they didn’t want to pay me. I don’t think that they really respect my value or the value of my story.”
The former drug pusher (real name: Donnell Ross) was a key figure in the documentary “American Drug War: The Last White Hope” and was featured in the first season of BET’s “American Gangster” series. Now Ross says he wants to tell the story his way.
Following his release in 2009 after serving 20 years in prison, Ross teamed up with Nick Cassavetes, an Emmy-award winning actor and writer who has penned the scripts for “Alpha Dog,” “Blow” and other films.
The two first met at a Walmart in San Diego, where Ross was living at a halfway house following his release from prison. Cassavetes said he had first learned of Ross following the late Gary Webb’s 1996 series called “Dark Alliance,” published by the San Jose Mercury News.
At the height of his drug career, Ross says he was moving about 100 kilos of coke every day. On average, he says he sold $2 million to $3 million a week.
“I want to present all sides of what actually happened,” said Cassavetes of the movie. “Not hearsay. Not rhetoric or hysteria. I want to let the audience decide whose to blame if anyone.”
While the autobiographical film will present a man operating outside of the law, causing havoc in largely African-American communities, Cassavetes says the movie will also explore the political ramifications of his actions.
Though Ross hasn’t yet asked Cassavetes to direct the motion picture, the filmmaker said he wants in. “If and when they come to me to direct, I’ll be there with bells on,” he said.
The script, which is in its final stages, will be complete before Christmas, said Cassavetes. Produced in conjunction with Geno Taylor and Apocalypto films, shooting of the film is tentatively set to begin in April. Cassavetes says he hopes the movie will be in theaters sometime next year.