Wesley Snipes Planning A Film About J. Edgar Hoover And Martin Luther King Jr.

By Katey Rich 2010-10-21 10:59:42discussion comments
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Lately Wesley Snipes is better known as a punchline on NBC sitcoms than for any of his own work-- both 30 Rock and Community have taken gentle jabs in recent episodes at the actor, who is currently battling the IRS thanks a big pile of unpaid taxes. He's still due to serve a three-year prison sentence for that crime, but he's also got big plans to produce and star in films-- including, as explained to Deadline, a feature about J. Edgar Hoover's smear campaign against Martin Luther King Jr.

Yes, you're reading that right. Even as Clint Eastwood is developing his own biopic about the former FBI chief, Snipes wants to tackle a different side of Hoover's long and storied career, his efforts to tarnish King's reputation through wiretapping and trying to ruin his marriage. There's plenty of documentation about the effort, called "Code Name Zorro"; following MLK's "I Have A Dream Speech," the program's director William Sullivan wrote to Hoover that "We must mark [King] now, if we have not done so before, as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this nation." Sullivan eventually tried to blow the whistle on the project, but was shot and killed in a so-called "hunting accident" before his book about Hoover could be published.

Snipes told Deadline his interest in the story was about the "conflict and life dilemma" faced by Sullivan, though he's also working with King's son and the King Center for Nonviolence to help put the film together. It sounds like an interesting story, and Snipes apparently has the proper connections to at least get the King family on board, but is a guy bound for prison really the person to tell this? Everyone is rooting for a Wesley Snipes comeback, no one more so than Wesley Snipes, but an expensive historical drama competing with another one from Clint Eastwood would be tricky even without the involvement of the IRS. In the realm of fantasy vanity projects from actors, this may be the greatest of them all.
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