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George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

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George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by silly girl on Fri Apr 26 2013, 00:01

George Clooney Reteaming With 'Argo' Journo on Drug Smuggling Project for Sony (Exclusive)
Clooney and Grant Heslov would produce the project based an upcoming article from journalist Joshuah Bearman

In what amounts to their first move since winning the Best Picture Oscar for "Argo," George Clooney and Grant Heslov are planning to produce a feature film adaptation of Joshuah Bearman's upcoming article about the Coronado Club, which Sony Pictures is in talks to acquire and develop as a potential directing vehicle for Clooney.

A representative for Clooney declined to comment and Bearman did not immediately reply to TheWrap's request for comment.

Bearman's article has not been published yet so details remain thin, but those familiar with the story say it involves a group of young people who are used to smuggle drugs.

The title of the movie is unknown, but will likely include Coronado, which is an affluent resort city near San Diego, California.

Bearman is the award-winning journalist whose Wired magazine article served as the basis for "Argo," which Clooney and Heslov produced through their Smoke House banner along with director Ben Affleck. He recently won the USC Scripter Award along with "Argo" screenwriter Chris Terrio.

Smoke House is currently producing Clooney's period art heist movie "The Monuments Men" for Sony, which will release the film in the heart of awards season on Dec. 18. Clooney and Heslov are also producers on John Wells' adaptation of "August: Osage County," which The Weinstein Co. opens Nov. 8.

The company is currently developing several projects including a Terrio-scripted crime movie with Paul Greengrass at Sony, a Wall St. bailout movie based on the 2009 Washington Post article “The $700 Billion Man," and an adaptation of Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi's serial killer novel "The Monster of Florence."

In addition to "Monuments Men," Clooney will soon be seen alongside Sandra Bullock in Alfonso Cuaron's space thriller "Gravity," which Warner Bros. sends into theatrical orbit on Oct. 4. He's also set to star in Brad Bird's Disney movie "Tomorrowland."

Clooney is represented by CAA and attorney Michael Adler, while Heslov is repped by Abrams Artists Agency and Gold Coast Management. Bearman is repped by UTA.


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Last edited by Katiedot on Wed May 01 2013, 05:25; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : updated thread title)

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by OofOof on Fri Apr 26 2013, 00:03

Thanks Silly Girl! You always find such interesting things. They are busy! Seems like he's starting the shift from being in front of the camera to going more behind the lens now.

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by theminis on Fri Apr 26 2013, 05:25

Oof think GC has realised that is best before date has arrived (joking of course)

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by OofOof on Fri Apr 26 2013, 06:26

Very Happy

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by Joanna on Fri Apr 26 2013, 10:54

Oh NO theminis....lets hope not ! affraid

He can direct all he wants to as long as he's in front of
the camera too in every film !

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by Mazy on Fri Apr 26 2013, 21:24

I so agree with you Joanna, I need to see him also.
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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by OofOof on Fri Apr 26 2013, 21:33

I agree that I hope he stays in front of the camera as well but I think his heart is really behind the cameras, which is good for him, as he ages out of the roles he's typically played. Shows he's maturing, at least professionally! Very Happy

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George and Grant to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by LornaDoone on Wed May 01 2013, 04:09

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Tue, 30 April 2013 at 2:10 pm















George Clooney: Working with 'Argo' Team for 'Coronado High'!

George Clooney flashes a smile while on set of his latest film project The Monuments Men on Monday (April 29) in Berlin, Germany.

The 51-year-old actor is starring in, as well as writing, directing,
and producing the film about a crew of art historians and museum
curators who unite to recover renown works of art stolen by Nazis before
Hitler destroys them.

George and his fellow Argo producer Grant Heslov will reportedly be teaming up again to produce Coronado High, an adaptation of Joshuah Bearman‘s upcoming article.

Coronado High “involves a group of teenagers who are used to
smuggle drugs in Coronado, which is an affluent resort city near San
Diego, California.”

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by theminis on Wed May 01 2013, 04:12

Well George obviously enjoys being very busy -

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by silly girl on Wed May 01 2013, 04:16

I am glad they chose this photo...People.com did too. He is smiling with his eyes.....

I have noticed that JJ now gives some sort of info with his photos ---not just a notice of where the celebrity is.....

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by theminis on Wed May 01 2013, 04:26

That is an excellent photo, delicious too.

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by OofOof on Wed May 01 2013, 04:38

It is a good photo of him. Shows him looking more like the George I fell in love with!

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by LornaDoone on Wed May 01 2013, 04:40

There are a couple more photos at the link.

And don't ask me how I got that photo to stay there cause all I did was copy and paste and it stuck!

Dumb luck I guess.

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by theminis on Wed May 01 2013, 04:41

I tried the old copy/paste before I learned how to post pictures (thanks Jo) and it never worked, you must have the magic touch. Later today I will post in tech section how I do it, so easy, you will be doing it blindfolded in no time.

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by OofOof on Wed May 01 2013, 04:44

Thanks theminis because I'm like Lorna...it's hit or miss so I've just given up.

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by Katiedot on Wed May 01 2013, 05:24

Ah, I KNEW we'd had this information before! I'll merge the two threads now.

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by fluffy on Wed May 01 2013, 13:54

Jojo, congrats on getting to 11000 posts!! Wow! Is this the most? Well Georgie certainly gives us something to talk about! Another movie, such a busy boy! cheers

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by Joanna on Wed May 01 2013, 16:19

fluffy wrote:Jojo, congrats on getting to 11000 posts!! Wow! Is this the most? Well Georgie certainly gives us something to talk about! Another movie, such a busy boy! cheers


Oh wow thanks....didn't notice I'm a Clooney Valentine now...major probs today with my broadband being down for a few hours.....grrrrrrr

George'll be so busy he'll need Superman powers to help him soon !


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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by Katiedot on Thu May 02 2013, 13:28

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Clooney film rumor fuels local book on Coronado’s 'dirty little secret'

By Diane Bell

MAY 1, 2013

Actor George Clooney arrives at the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles.

The rumor of actor George Clooney’s interest in producing a film about a ring of drug-smuggling Coronado teens in the 1970s has raised some eyebrows in this quiet oceanfront community. Especially those of Gary Carter and Joe Ditler, who graduated from Coronado High in 1967 and ’70, respectively.

They were schoolmates of the marijuana peddling students who started small, sometimes just swimming across the Mexican border with 20 to 25 pounds strapped to their backs. After recruiting their Spanish teacher as a translator and eventual ringleader, however, their trade expanded in scope and size. They reportedly had grossed close to $100 million over 10 years before members were caught and prosecuted.

Ditler, a Coronado historian and PR guy, and Carter, a college instructor, began writing a book nine years ago on the illicit operation, dubbed “The Coronado Company.” But locals weren’t anxious to talk about “Coronado’s dirty little secret,” says Ditler.

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by Atalante on Thu May 02 2013, 15:37

Well I want a movie about the Bilderberg Group, ... they run this planet ya know ! Twisted Evil

Interesting LINK One of the authors is on youtube. Hello!

More stuff: LINK Suspect

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by LornaDoone on Thu May 02 2013, 18:37

Looks like this book has info on the story.

Click on book title for more info:

The Mammoth Book of Drug Barons
by Paul Copperwaite

Found out about the book from a preview I saw on Google. See link below.

Google Book Preview

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by amaretti on Thu May 02 2013, 22:26

Me I like stories about art . Very Happy

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by Mazy on Mon Jul 01 2013, 21:50

GQ: ‘Coronado High’ Smugglers — Successful and Brash Before Fall
An excerpt of the upcoming GQ article covers the successful years of the drug operation said to be the focus of a planned film by George Clooney.
Posted by Jennifer Vigil (Editor), July 1, 2013 at 10:44 am


Actor and producer George Clooney at the 2013 Oscars with producing partner Grant Heslow. They are said to be part of a film based on an upcoming “GQ” article about Coronado.

A group connected to Coronado took their incredibly lucrative drug ring across country, amassing millions in what became a shockingly sophisticated operation, according to an upcoming article in GQ magazine.

GQ is previewing “Coronado High,” the article about the Coronado Company, as the drug dealers were known. The piece is said to have been optioned by Oscar-winning star George Clooney for an upcoming film.
The writer, Joshuah Bearman, is behind the story that inspired Argo, the 2013 Oscar Best Picture winner.

According to Bearman, the Company, which got its start in the '60s, eventually was so successful it “was practically corporatized,” a criminal enterprise that relied on a code system for contact, and one that could go underground and fool the DEA. The original members were a former Coronado High School Spanish teacher and his one-time students.

The author writes:

“The Company could disappear for months at a time and then re-emerge, at the ready. ‘These kids were the best in the business,’ Special Agent James Conklin says today. ‘They were ahead of their time. They operated almost like a military unit.’"

The magazine has offered up a 10-paragraph excerpt of the story on its website, about the Coronado Company during its high-flying years, when the operation spread all the way to Maine. By the '80s, it has collapsed, following investigations and in-fighting.

The full story is due in GQ's September issue.

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by Mazy on Wed Jul 03 2013, 05:27

GEORGE CLOONEY TO PRODUCE DRUG SMUGGLING MOVIE "CORONADO HIGH" - BASED ON CORONADO'S BIGGEST CRIME RING
Posted by eCoronado on April 26, 2013 at 11:30am
 
Grant Heslov and George Clooney team up to produce future movie called "Coronado High".
This is one of those stories, true stories, that many Coronado locals don't want to talk about - they are even less enthused about having Hollywood make a major motion picture about it. Some eCoronado.com members have shared personal memories and details about this case, but asked us not to write about it. We haven't. They certainly didn't want to name names, so we did some "Google research" and found out more details about why Hollywood is so interested this 30+ year-old Coronado crime ring. Here is a quick overview of the "Coronado Company" drug business that ran from 1972-1981 - yes, right here in Crown Town:

Former Coronado High School Spanish teacher Louis "Lou" Villar orchestrated one of the largest drug smuggling rings enlisting former CHS students. Nearly 100 tons of marijuana and hashish were imported from Mexico and the Orient. They made millions before getting caught by the DEA. Over 60 people were indicted and over 20 served time. One conspirator spent over five years in a Moroccan jail after getting caught. Even though Villar was the kingpin of the "Coronado Company", he was able to avoid jail by becoming a witness against his former conspirators and even his lawyer Philip DeMassa.

UPDATE: Here is the Mike Wallace "60 Minutes" video on the "Coronado Company".

Back in 2004, Union Tribune writer and CHS grad Logan Jenkins penned these words:
Twenty years ago, I was spellbound by the bizarre history of another drug ring that hailed from a high school – Coronado, my alma mater.
Most of the names, and many of the faces, of the principal conspirators were familiar.
Most astonishing in the lineup was Louis Villar, whom I remembered as a hip young Spanish teacher who drove an old Corvette. He was also the coach of the swimming team, which won the CIF championship in 1964, if memory serves.
This charismatic figure would go on to become the CEO of the Coronado Company, which, next to the Hotel del Coronado, remains the most famous business enterprise in the island's history.

By the early 1970s, Villar had dropped out of teaching and become a house-painting, pot-smoking beach savant everyone called "Pops." Some of the local kids, former students of Villar's, were making use of their considerable water skills by smuggling in kilos of Mexican marijuana. Pops was recruited to help negotiate with wholesalers in Tijuana.
Read the entire UT article here.

Here is a synopsis of the Coronado Company according to court documents:
In 1972, Louis Villar, Edward Otero, Paul Acree, and Lance Weber agreed to work as partners for the purpose of smuggling and distributing marijuana. This partnership became known as the Coronado Company. In its early years, this partnership conducted smuggling operations on a relatively small scale. As the size of the loads increased, employees were hired to help with the off-loading part of the operation. In 1977, Bob Lahodny joined the Company, replacing Weber as a partner.
Late in 1979, the Company began to plan a fifth smuggling operation. Lahodny contacted a previous supplier, Lux Phaksuwana, and his associate, defendant Bibbero, about procuring a load of Thai marijuana. In a series of meetings at Santa Barbara and San Francisco, Bibbero met with the partners of the Company to discuss the operation. It was agreed that Bibbero would buy seven tons of marijuana and ready it for shipment to the United States. The Company would oversee the transporting of the load to Neah Bay, Washington, and land the shipment by helicopter for warehousing and distribution. The financial terms of this agreement were that Bibbero and the Company would each pay 50% of the cost of the supply, and Bibbero and the Company would receive 40% and 60% of the load respectively.

After a series of mishaps, the off-loading operation was abandoned with only one ton of the load safely landed and warehoused. Six tons of marijuana were recovered by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents on the shores of Neah Bay. Bibbero successfully renegotiated the division of the salvaged marijuana and received 45% of the load.

During the spring and summer of 1981, Bibbero met Villar and other partners at Santa Barbara, Palo Alto, and LaCosta, California, to plan a sixth smuggling operation. Because of the debacle at Neah Bay, it was agreed that Bibbero would receive more than half of the load. Bibbero also succeeded in getting a friend, Joe Siegfried, onto the off-loading crew so that Bibbero could maintain closer contact with the off-loading operation. The landing was planned for Bear Harbor, California. Marshall was recruited to work as a crew member and arrived at the site several weeks early to help prepare for the off-loading operation.

When the boat transporting the marijuana had engine trouble near Japan, Bibbero loaned the Company $25,000 to cover the cost of repairs and was scheduled to receive 100% interest on this loan.

A six-ton load was successfully landed at Bear Harbor in October, 1981, and transported to a house at Arcata, California, where it was weighed and packaged. Marshall participated in the off-loading. Bibbero stayed at a hotel in Eureka during the operation. He later arrived at the Arcata house with Siegfried, congratulated the crew members, and departed. Sometime after the operation was completed, Lahodny hosted a victory party, which was attended by Bibbero and Marshall.

On August 3, 1982, a federal grand jury in the Southern District of California returned a three-count indictment against Bibbero, Marshall, and twenty-five other individuals pertaining to the drug smuggling operation. Count one charged Bibbero, Marshall, and twenty-five others with conspiracy to possess marijuana, exceeding 1000 pounds, with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. Secs. 841(a)(1), 841(b)(6), and 846 (1982). Count two charged the same individuals with conspiracy to import marijuana with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. Secs. 952, 960, and 963. Count three charged Bibbero and twelve others, not including Marshall, with possession of 3000 pounds of marijuana with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. Sec. 841(a)(1).
The district court divided the twenty-seven defendants into three groups and ordered three separate trials. The defendants were tried as a separate group, and judgments were entered after the jury found Bibbero and Marshall guilty as per the indictment. The defendants filed a timely appeal from the district court's judgment order.

Here is another summary taken from court documents:
From 1977 to 1981, a large-scale drug smuggling organization known as the "Coronado Company" imported and distributed approximately twenty-four tons of marijuana from Thailand. More than twenty-five persons participated. The five appellants here, Robert Barker, William McKinley, Jeffrey Engle, Jason Engle, and George Timmons, were each charged with multiple substantive and conspiracy counts stemming from their involvement in the Company's importation of five tons of marijuana in 1981.

According to a 1986 LA Times article:
Founded in the early 1970s by high school buddies who smuggled drugs from Mexico on surfboards, the Coronado Company became one of the West Coast's biggest importers of "Thai stick" marijuana from the Orient.

Also from the LA Times:
At one time, Villar, the ring's mastermind, was DeMassa's client. In 1982, Villar, who is now 46, pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to import marijuana and was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.

But five months later, Villar became the government's star witness, and he soon implicated DeMassa and others in the conspiracy and avoided going to jail.

Click here to read an excerpt from "The Mammoth Book of Drug Barons" that talks about the Coronado Company.
The Well Fed Muse interviewed author David Corbett and he shared this about a story he wrote about the Coronado

Company:
I worked on a number of interrelated marijuana smuggling cases linked to a group of characters out of San Diego who called themselves the Coronado Company. They were Navy brats for the most part, comfortable with boats and the sea, and began dealing pot in high school, crossing into TJ for party-size loads, nothing major. But little by little the demand grew and so did their nerve, until they got to the point someone needed to speak Spanish. So they recruited their high school Spanish teacher, a walking mid-life-crisis named Lou Villar, into the company. They began doing major smuggling runs up from Mexico, then teamed up with some Vietnam vets yearning for a little adventure who had contacts in Southeast Asia. They became the largest smuggling operation on the West Coast, and were more wild than evil. If they’d lived in the 17th century they would have sailed around the world for treasure and fame. They were just born four hundred years too late.

Read the entire interview here.
Coronado locals can't bury this story anymore. Yesterday, The Wrap (a Hollywood entertainment website) published an exclusive story giving some of the first details about this future project that is being led by two talented producers that just won Oscar gold for "Argo": George Clooney Reteaming With 'Argo' Journo on Drug Smuggling Project.

This is old Coronado news for locals, but with the new movie and heavyweights such as Clooney and Heslov producing it, this 30-year-old news may just be playing at Village Theatre right here in Coronado.

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VIDEO: Mike Wallace and "60 Minutes" Special on "Coronado Company" Drug Smuggling Ring

Posted by eCoronado on April 29, 2013 at 4:00pm
There has been an incredible "buzz" (pun intended) and response to the story eCoronado.com posted last Friday about a former Coronado High School teacher and his students that formed a drug smuggling group called the Coronado Company. Just read some of the many comments on the eCoronado.com Facebook page.

Multiple locals have told us about the 1985 "60 Minutes" piece and we finally found it. Host Mike Wallace takes a tour and detailed look into one of the most successful and sophisticated drug smuggling rings in the United States at that time. For more details about the people involved and the tons of drugs imported, click here.

Watch the two videos below.

PART ONE (6 Minutes):


PART TWO (9 minutes):


BONUS VIDEO:  CHS Grad and Coronado Local, Joe Ditler Discussed "Coronado Company" and his Book (3 Minutes):



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Mazy
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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by Mazy on Wed Jul 03 2013, 05:35

UT REPORT

LOGAN JENKINS
Salad days can ripen into sour memories

March 29, 2004

Ah, high school.

Those crisp green salad days when fun-loving teens form the deep lasting friendships that so enrich their adult lives.

How inspiring when bosom buds go on to form business partnerships that take them to exotic locales they never in their wildest dreams thought possible.

Prison cells.
Prison yards.
Prison workshops.

Reading initial reports of the busted marijuana cultivation ring – the one that rented some 20 houses around North County, and gave new meaning to the term "hothouse" – I experienced a tingly case of deja vu.

Though the facts are sketchy at this early point, the official word is that the inner circle was composed of former Poway High School students. Without leaping to conclusions about individual suspects, one can deduce this much:

Someone exercised a ton of ingenuity, discipline, organization and horticultural finesse to set up a criminal enterprise that, while not unique in itself, certainly pushes the envelope, at least in an urban setting.

Extract the criminal element and Donald Trump might be tempted to hire the Poway mastermind(s).

But what obviously wasn't anticipated in the nursery venture's PowerPoint presentation was an anonymous tip – and a police search for houses using more than their normal share of electricity.

The plants – 3,119 of them – hit the fan.

In the immortal words of Warren Zevon, it's time for lawyers, guns and money.
 
Twenty years ago, I was spellbound by the bizarre history of another drug ring that hailed from a high school – Coronado, my alma mater.

Most of the names, and many of the faces, of the principal conspirators were familiar.

Most astonishing in the lineup was Louis Villar, whom I remembered as a hip young Spanish teacher who drove an old Corvette. He was also the coach of the swimming team, which won the CIF championship in 1964, if memory serves.

This charismatic figure would go on to become the CEO of the Coronado Company, which, next to the Hotel del Coronado, remains the most famous business enterprise in the island's history.

By the early 1970s, Villar had dropped out of teaching and become a house-painting, pot-smoking beach savant everyone called "Pops." Some of the local kids, former students of Villar's, were making use of their considerable water skills by smuggling in kilos of Mexican marijuana. Pops was recruited to help negotiate with wholesalers in Tijuana.

From that humble seed blossomed an international operation that, over a decade, would import more than 90 tons of marijuana and hashish from Mexico, Thailand, Morocco and Pakistan. From California to Maine, the Coronado Company landed huge shipments on beaches. The main partners made millions in green money.

Ultimately, the Drug Enforcement Administration wised up. Informants started talking. The empire crumbled. Dozens of Coronado Company associates eventually were convicted and sent to prison.

Villar, a master at creating new identities for himself and hobnobbing with the country-club set in Santa Barbara and Hilton Head, S.C., came out of it smelling like a rotten rose. After serving five months, he turned in a long list of associates and received a get-out-of-jail card.

In 1986, Villar showed up in San Diego for a radio talk show. Speaking like a retired CEO, he explained how his company was a model of efficiency: "We decided at an executive meeting what to do, and did it. We didn't have a constitution to abide by, and we didn't have to respect anybody's rights."

You can say that again.

One of the company's accomplices, a Coronado surfer, was left in Morocco for a year, locked in chains until payment was made in full.

Today, Villar is 67. Getting on.
He may have lost his family, wife and friends, as he said on the radio show, yet he lost but a small fraction of the freedom he deserved to lose.
 
So what does the old shipwreck of the Coronado Company, shifting in the shoals of memory, tell the new generation of illicit entrepreneurs?
Old school ties can hang you.
That is, unless you're the CEO – and willing to rat out every one of your partners.
In which case you might make out like a bandit, as did Louis Villar.
Logan Jenkins can be reached at (760) 737-7555 or by e-mail at [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.].

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by Mazy on Wed Jul 03 2013, 05:43

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2013
Sleuthing Out the Story: An Interview with David Corbett
Want mystery, intrigue, and colorful characters in your stories? To amplify all those elements in your storytelling, Writing Pad brings you a weekend with David Corbett on Mar. 8-10!

David's work has been touted as “the best in contemporary crime fiction” by the Washington Post. This January, Penguin published his newest book on the craft of character, The Art of Character, for which he is currently on book tour.

In a previous incarnation of his career, David was a senior operative for the private investigation firm Palladino & Sutherland for over 15 years, working on numerous headline cases including the DeLorean Trial, the Michael Jackson case, the Lincoln Savings Loan Scandal, the Cotton Club Murder Case. He's published four novels: The Devil’s Redhead (nominated for numerous Best First Novel awards), Done for a Dime (a New York Times Notable Book), Blood of Paradise (nominated for numerous awards, including the Edgar, Washington Post Top Ten Mystery/Thriller for 2007, San Francisco Chronicle Notable Book), and Do They Know I’m Running (Spinetingler Award, Best Novel—Rising Star Category 2011).

We were thrilled that David was able to carve some time out of his busy schedule to speak with us.

In your previous life as a senior operative for Palladino & Sutherland, you were involved in some headline cases. Tell us about a few of your favorites.

The Michael Jackson case was an eye opener from the standpoint of realizing just how many parasites throng around a superstar. Jackson’s own staff bled him dry while sucking up and feeding his insatiable need to be loved and validated. You put weak, venal people that close to power and money and their souls turn into sewers in an eye blink.


The People’s Temple case was the most heartbreaking. Larry Layton was being tried for the second time for conspiracy to assassinate a U.S. Representative, Leo Ryan, who was killed at the Jonestown airstrip in Guyana along with several others. Layton was definitely one of the gunmen, but our defense centered around showing that the prosecution could not prove intent due to the long-term brainwashing and deprivation Layton and other Temple members suffered, exacerbated by isolation and the Temple’s bizarre rules and structure.

I interviewed dozens of Temple members. Hearing their stories about being gullible and betrayed, of losing loved ones, of being treated savagely by the FBI, then ostracized upon coming home, afraid to mention they’d once belonged to the Temple truly broke my heart and galvanized my commitment.

You recently came out with a new book on developing characters. Which one of your real life cases as a Private Investigator had the most colorful cast of characters?

I worked on a number of interrelated marijuana smuggling cases linked to a group of characters out of San Diego who called themselves the Coronado Company. They were Navy brats for the most part, comfortable with boats and the sea, and began dealing pot in high school, crossing into TJ for party-size loads, nothing major. But little by little the demand grew and so did their nerve, until they got to the point someone needed to speak Spanish. So they recruited their high school Spanish teacher, a walking mid-life-crisis named Lou Villar, into the company. They began doing major smuggling runs up from Mexico, then teamed up with some Vietnam vets yearning for a little adventure who had contacts in Southeast Asia. They became the largest smuggling operation on the West Coast, and were more wild than evil. If they’d lived in the 17th century they would have sailed around the world for treasure and fame. They were just born four hundred years too late.

In particular, one money laundering case out of Reno involving the Coronado Company had a real cast of oddball characters. One of the defendants had spent five years in a Cambodian prison, one had a fascination with a Peppermill cocktail waitress because she resembled a young Donna Reed,and the informant was a former Las Vegas midnight movie host.

How does your background as a private investigator inform your work as a crime fiction author?

I realize that criminals are not two-dimensional monsters preying on the noble innocents of the world. Morality is a bit more ambiguous than that, as people are far more complicated.

What inspired your leap from investigative work to professional writer?

I was actually writing before I became an investigator. I decided to take the job figuring it would serve as my “years at sea,” providing me a much broader and varied view of the world than I might otherwise experience. And I was right, to put it mildly.

How has your writing process changed over the course of writing your four published novels?

I have increasingly embraced the use of scenes at all levels of character development, I outline my structure far more extensively at the outset, and I’m more attentive to subtext.

In addition to novels, you've also written short stories and poetry, with two of your stories selected for Best American Mystery Stories. What's the key to packing in all the necessary mystery and suspense in short form?

You have to remember that a story usually focuses on a key revelation as its climactic event, and not try to do more than that, or else things get unwieldy. And suspense is largely a case of asking a question and withholding the answer. That’s true of whatever form you use.

We’re very excited about your new book on character creation, The Art of Character, and your workshop at Writing Pad that will apply some of the techniques for developing complex characters. Can you give us a preview of your approach?

I focus on developing an intuitive link—or a bridge of empathy—between the writer and the characters, which requires a certain level of self-scrutiny and honesty. I work on plumbing one’s own experience for both character conception and development. I show how five key elements are crucial to compelling characterization, and that development from that point forward largely requires focusing on moments of significant emotional impact, usually involving an element of helplessness, to develop a deep understanding of where the character has come from, where he stands when the story begins, and where he might realistically head.

When you say it like that, it almost sounds easy! Thanks for your time, David.

Learning from a storytelling master of mystery and suspense like David will do wonders for your own work. Writing Pad is hosting two upcoming classes with David – She's Got Character: Developing Characters That Work on March 9th and The Spine of Crime: Structure and the Crime Story on March 10th – in addition to the one-night panel Crime Scene Confidential: Writing The Believable Mystery along with fiction, craft, and TV uber writers Bill Rabkin ("Psych", "Monk") and James Scott Bell ("Plot and Structure", "Deceived"). Sign up before they're full. Your characters will thank you!

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by Mazy on Wed Jul 03 2013, 05:57

CONTROVERSY STILL LINGERS AS DEMASSA TRIAL READIED
October 08, 1985|H.G. REZA | Times Staff Writer
The drug conspiracy trial of San Diego attorney Philip DeMassa is scheduled to begin this week in federal court and, as it always has, controversy clouds the case.

DeMassa, a well-known attorney who has represented drug defendants and members of the Hells Angels, is charged with conspiring with members of the "Coronado Company" drug ring to import marijuana into the United States. DeMassa was implicated in the conspiracy by Louis Villar, a former high school Spanish teacher.

At one time, Villar, the ring's mastermind, was DeMassa's client. In 1982, Villar, who is now 46, pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to import marijuana and was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.
But five months later, Villar became the government's star witness, and he soon implicated DeMassa and others in the conspiracy and avoided going to jail.
The most recent twist in the case occurred Sept. 25, when a car belonging to DeMassa's attorney was stolen from in front of a Los Angeles synagogue. Inside the car were attorney Barry Tarlow's trial notebooks, which contained notes on defense strategy and a list of witnesses Tarlow expects to call.

Two days later, the notebooks arrived at the U.S. attorney's office in San Diego, where they had been sent by a postal inspector after they were found in a Los Angeles mailbox. Federal prosecutors said they did not look at the notebooks and took them unopened to a U.S. magistrate, who opened them and decided they might belong to Tarlow. Tarlow identified the notebooks at a subsequent hearing and the magistrate ordered the documents returned to him, after they were copied.

The investigation also had a controversial beginning in a well-publicized seizure by federal officials of DeMassa's client files, prompting various lawyers and lawyers' groups to file briefs on DeMassa's behalf. The raid set the stage for a bitter confrontation pitting DeMassa and Tarlow against U.S. Atty. Peter K. Nunez and other federal prosecutors. Some of that animosity surfaced in a report by CBS-TV's "60 Minutes" in late 1983.

David Russell, a Kansas City attorney and president of the National Assn. of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said the investigation began with "the eroding of the attorney-client privilege" and is coming to trial "amid legitimate concerns about his (DeMassa's) right to a fair trial."

In April, 1983, agents from the Internal Revenue Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. attorney's office obtained a warrant for a three-day search of DeMassa's home and office. They justified the raid on grounds that they were looking for evidence that would link DeMassa to the Coronado Company's smuggling activities. Ninety-five cartons and more than 1,000 of DeMassa's case files were confiscated.

However, a U.S. District judge later ruled that, while the search was not unreasonable, the search warrants were excessively broad and violated the Fourth Amendment's protection from unreasonable search and seizure. Tarlow and other defense attorneys went one step further and argued that the search violated the attorney-client privilege.

The search gave prosecutors access to files of DeMassa's clients who had nothing to do with the Coronado Company case, the defense attorneys said. More than two years after the search, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, and last month it ruled the search illegal because it violated the attorney-client confidential relationship and the clients' right to privacy.

The controversial search would become a confusing tangential issue in the case, one that is not directly related to the upcoming trial.

A San Diego attorney who requested anonymity said the numerous appeals filed by both sides in the illegal search detracted so much from the trial issues that "the merits of the case are hardly discussed at all."

Because the cartons seized in the raid remain sealed and in the custody of a special master appointed by the court, the search never led to any charges being filed against DeMassa.

Instead, the government brought DeMassa to trial after he was indicted in January, 1984, on charges of mail fraud and harboring a fugitive, and again in October, 1984, on various drug conspiracy charges and currency violations.

Tarlow said the prosecution's list of potential witnesses totals 120 persons, including some of DeMassa's former drug clients. The defense expects to call 50 witnesses during the trial, which might last six months.

"This trial is clearly a vendetta to settle old scores with Phil. They never liked Phil's aggressive defense of drug clients. (U.S. Attorney Peter K.) Nunez and (Assistant U.S. Atty. Herbert) Hoffman are so personally involved in this case they can't prosecute it objectively. Hoffman, particularly, is so personally involved that his judgment is clouded," Tarlow said.

Chief Assistant U.S. Atty. Peter Bowie, speaking for the U.S. attorney's office, denied Tarlow's charges of a vendetta.
"That (claim) has been denied by the court in several written motions. The charges stand for themselves," said Bowie.

Bowie made it clear that the search of DeMassa's home and office will not play a part in the trial, and he denied claims by some local attorneys that the complex appeals and subsequent publicity that resulted from the search will make the trial issues more confusing.

"It can be prosecuted simply and in a trial manner," Bowie said. "We're ready to proceed."

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DEMASSA, VILLAR BURY HATCHET IN SECRET DEAL
July 26, 1986|JIM SCHACHTER | Times Staff Writer
Louis Villar, the kingpin of the Coronado Company drug-smuggling ring, has dropped a malpractice suit against his former lawyer, Philip DeMassa, ending a pitched 5-year feud that saw both men convicted of felonies.

The settlement, reached early this week, prohibits disclosure of its terms. But attorneys in the case said Friday that it resolves both the malpractice suit in San Diego and a dispute in South Carolina over rights to $320,000 in property seized by federal drug prosecutors.

"These are two human beings who would like to pursue the rest of their lives and not expose the past any further," said Brian Monaghan, attorney in San Diego for Villar, whose whereabouts are secret.
Until this week, DeMassa and Villar had spent much of the last five years exposing as much of each other's pasts--or purported pasts--as they could.

DeMassa pleaded guilty last fall to making illegal currency transactions and harboring a fugitive, the anticlimactic conclusion to a federal investigation fueled by Villar's testimony against his former lawyer.

Villar, surrendering after 4 years as a fugitive, had pleaded guilty to drug charges in 1982 and was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison, forfeiting $4.2 million in drug profits. But a few months later, the former Coronado High School Spanish teacher suddenly fired DeMassa and agreed to become a government witness in an ongoing investigation of the Coronado Company. In exchange, he was released from prison and placed on probation.

DeMassa became a primary target of the federal inquiry. Villar told investigators that DeMassa was, in effect, the corporate lawyer for the smuggling ring. Founded in the early 1970s by high school buddies who smuggled drugs from Mexico on surfboards, the Coronado Company became one of the West Coast's biggest importers of "Thai stick" marijuana from the Orient.

Villar filed a lawsuit in San Diego County Superior Court early in 1983 accusing DeMassa of malpractice. The suit alleged that DeMassa had sold out Villar's interests by advising him to accept the plea bargain that resulted in a decade-long jail sentence. It charged that DeMassa was protecting himself against the likelihood that Villar would implicate DeMassa if he cooperated with prosecutors.
"DeMassa's representation created a nightmare of conflicts," Monaghan said in a letter to DeMassa's attorney, Charles Dick Jr., filed in Superior Court. "At the time he advised Villar, DeMassa was concurrently representing a number of other criminal defendants involved in the Coronado Company and faced criminal exposure himself for his role in the smuggling operation."

Meanwhile, Villar was supplying Drug Enforcement Administration and Internal Revenue Service investigators with the information that became the basis for a three-day search of DeMassa's law office and home and, in 1984, the lawyer's indictment on 20 felony charges, including conspiracy to smuggle drugs.

Villar immediately became the primary target of DeMassa's defense. In court filings and hearings, DeMassa and his lawyers painted Villar as exploitative and manipulative and said his testimony against DeMassa was pure invention, devised to secure Villar's release from jail.

Defense attorneys across the nation rallied to DeMassa's defense, saying federal investigators' seizure of his records threatened the sanctity of the attorney-client relationship. DeMassa appeared on the "60 Minutes" television program, sharply attacking Villar and the investigation.

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by Mazy on Wed Jul 03 2013, 06:03

The court documents are at this link. It just seemed like so much more to post and I didn't know if anyone wanted to read them.

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by Katiedot on Wed Jul 03 2013, 11:03

Wow! There's a lot of news all of a sudden about this!

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Script writer appointed for Bearman's 'Coronado High' article

Post by party animal - not! on Tue Jul 15 2014, 02:36

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by party animal - not! on Tue Jul 15 2014, 02:39

...and http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/greys-anatomy-writer-tapped-adapt-718386?utm_source=gravity&grcc2=50905d1cdadcbeaa2510360ecbfe02fe~1405388264920~01b0b9ad501e0c849a822e6124ff0fc2~3936527610c267e37d0273fb56bf04b7~1405387260000~712~39~0~0~0~-1~-1~-1~18~39~38~H4sIAAAAAAAAAI1QTYvUQBD9K-YwJ6dDVX_X7MlFVkVBUDx4Cp10ZybrJB06GUNA-rfbgwcvC1pV8Ir6eK-oy7rOB_HmwJ9KbNtWX-L1um8x-hTmmNaQ6i6OpZeZVNyQ1ZasMkooI43Jl_9dn8K2FDinsC_MTW6N4862NJQJtrp5Dp457-aVGbTC6oN4uq1js8Rb6sJBvD0n93NY94wkMPfD5K5fgruuwxi-f_7axRSyQZ650RmwhZacV4ABOivJWc6DRi77HvqO_3sg56Wc9cGfmEREq1FzImOQQFnddG6c3XCe7n1jiQQZICVACkDId7dZG8zdj6Zu_hA1LxG9_kvUvECEeY-su9zSVB40p9ge5RFrOEENR1QPeAeAh5M1x19F891j9W0qYv7Vx2E6-zhWUH2Kk49TSRTWCiUHXbGyTqKENaVevafsjdOeY3CoQ6-DkGBlazy1tvcgSGSra1RUI1LNOeXluUPm5gHAUO7ddQn5br8BSDbMOUcCAAA

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by party animal - not! on Tue Jul 15 2014, 02:41

or.........http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/greys-anatomy-writer-tapped-adapt-718386

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by melbert on Tue Jul 15 2014, 04:29

clickable link:

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'Grey's Anatomy' Writer Tapped to Adapt Drug Smuggling Movie for George Clooney (Exclusive)

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Debora Cahn will adapt "Coronado High" for Columbia, which Clooney is producing with his Smokehouse partner Grant Heslov.

Debora Cahn, who was a longtime writer/consulting producer on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, has been tapped to pen Coronado High for Columbia Pictures.
George Clooney and Grant Heslov are producing via their Smokehouse banner, as is David Klawans.
LIST Hollywood's 100 Favorite Films 
Coronado High is based on an article by Joshua Bearman, the same journalist whose article for Wired became the basis for the Oscar-winning movie Argo (which Clooney and Heslov produced with Ben Affleck).
Bearman's Coronado piece, first published on the Atavist, told of how starting in 1969, a hippie teacher in the sleepy naval beach town of Coronado, Calif., and some high school students came up with the idea of smuggling pot from Mexico via swimming and paddling surfboards. Out of that rose a 1970s criminal empire, one that was eventually taken down by the DEA.   
PHOTOS 'Grey's Anatomy' Cast, Creators Say Farewell to Sandra Oh
Cahn started her screenwriting career as a staff scribe on The West Wing, even winning a WGA award. She wrote The Special Program, which was near the top of last year’s Black List. The feature script was an adaptation of Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency by Washington Post investigative reporter Barton Gellman.
Cahn, who is repped by CAA (and also reps Atavist) and Hansen Jacobson, also did a production rewrite on Too Big to Fail for HBO and director Curtis Hanson.


Last edited by Nicky80 on Tue Jul 15 2014, 21:56; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : corrected copy/past from link)

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by Sevens on Sat Jul 19 2014, 10:05

George Clooney Snags A Writer For His Drug Smuggling Drama Coronado High
BY KRISTY PUCHKO 2014-07-17 14:33:41
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As a filmmaker, George Clooney has shown a deep passion for bringing audiences true stories that are stranger than fiction. To date, he's helmed the bizarre Chuck Barris biopic Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, the celebrated Edward R. Murrow-centered docudrama Goodnight and Good Luck, and the star-stuffed World War II drama The Monuments Men. For his next venture, Clooney is turning to drug smuggling, and he's picked up a solid accomplice.

THR reports George Clooney and producing partner Grant Heslov have hired Debora Cahn to pen the screenplay for their upcoming drama Coronado High. Like those movies mentioned above, Coronado High finds its inspiration in real-life events, in this case that of Lou Villar, a hippie teacher and swimming coach in 1969 Cornado, California, who decided to enlist his students in a plan to smuggle pot from Mexico. In a plan perfect for dopey surfer teens, they transported the illegal drugs via surfboards. Remarkably, this wonky beginning built up a drug empire that was worth $100 million at its peak, and branched out to Mexico, Morocco and Thailand. Of course, this higher learning organization was eventually taken down by the DEA.

Debora Cahn drew Hollywood's first notice with The Special Program, her adapted screenplay of the Washington Post article Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency that earned a coveted spot on the Black List. Coronado High will mark the first screenplay of Debora Cahn's to be produced. She is far more established as a TV writer, having penned episodes of such celebrated and adored series as The West Wing and Grey's Anatomy.

Clooney and Heslov entrusting her with this assignment speaks well of her skills, as does her two Emmy nominations for her work on Grey's Anatomy. On top of that, Cahn has some solid sources of inspiration from which to pull. Smokehouse, Clooney and Heslov's production banner, has secured the rights to Joshua Bearman's investigative article "Coronado High," which broke this wild story down. "Coronado High" was a finalist for the National Magazine Award for Multimedia, 2014, and you can buy it here, if you're interested.

We first got word of Coronado High back in April of 2013, when George Clooney's acquisition of the yet-to-be-published Bearman article made headlines. Now you might think it's strange that an article can get a movie deal before being published, but Bearman and Clooney had a pretty special relationship at this point. See, Joshua Bearman wrote the article that inspired Argo, the docudrama that won Clooney a Best Picture Oscar for his hand in producing. With a working relationship like that, it makes perfect sense that a Clooney would have an inside line on the Coronado story. And if his instincts on Cahn are right, the two-time Oscar winner could be polishing a third statue before long.
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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by Sevens on Sat Jul 19 2014, 10:13

I really hope George would direct this one...he should've directed Argo. Now he's got a pretty sure good script writer, much to expect from him as a director.

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by party animal - not! on Sat Jul 19 2014, 12:28

We'll see. Guess it depends on the schedule and acting jobs....

Love the stories he chooses, and the journalistic background of the people involved. 

Here's another colleague/friend with a lawyer other half too. So many........

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by Atalante on Sat Jul 19 2014, 13:39

He'd better focusssssssssssss ! Monuments Men was a FLOP in Belgium, a FLOP. Ben Crabbé used this movie in a very popular tv quizz and said it again: that movie was a FLOP ! Let's hope he can concentrate more on this one for now he no longer has to chase Amal.  Laughing

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by Sevens on Sat Jul 19 2014, 13:49

The problem to MM is its bad script.
But when George wrote that back in 2012, I dont think he was busy chasing Amal then. They probably hadnt known each other.

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by Atalante on Sat Jul 19 2014, 13:53

Sure, ...  Laughing

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by Boshkash on Sat Jul 19 2014, 15:39

I haven't seen MM yet, but I wouldn't call a movie that got over 150 million and a lot of positive feedback from moviegoers not critics, I wouldn't call that a flop.. and I don't want to be rude or anything Atalante, but sometimes I find u VERY annoying and irritable ... There is always something called logic, neutrality, and positivity.. if u can't find anything good or informing here why stay? Why keep teasing and mocking and getting out of topics?

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by amaretti on Sat Jul 19 2014, 17:01

MM was a success plus it brought attention to lost art . I really liked the subject he choose . Very Happy Very Happy 

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by Atalante on Sat Jul 19 2014, 17:10

Boshkash wrote:I haven't seen MM yet, but I wouldn't call a movie that got over 150 million and a lot of positive feedback from moviegoers not critics, I wouldn't call that a flop.. and I don't want to be rude or anything Atalante, but sometimes I find u VERY annoying and irritable ... There is always something called logic, neutrality, and positivity.. if u can't find anything good or informing here why stay? Why keep teasing and mocking and getting out of topics?
Really ??? Just getting the facts though, ...  Laughing

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by Sevens on Sun Jul 20 2014, 01:05

Monuments Men really got some problems with its pace... George wants to tell too many stories at the same time then loses focus.
Though it got several pretty good clips with great cast, just a shame it hasnt got all the pieces together.

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by party animal - not! on Sun Jul 20 2014, 01:09

I know what you mean, Sevens. Such a huge story with so many locations. I've watched it three times now, and each time I appreciate it more and take more of the story on board. 

Dimitri Leonidas is a revelation..........

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by Sevens on Sun Jul 20 2014, 01:19

Really admire the fact that you can watch it for several times! I brought two friends to see it in theater...both of them fell asleep through it.
It moved me a few times, but bored me also.I hasnt got enough interest to see it twice.
Cant see it as a bad film, just boring. Same feelings with Stare at Goats. Leatherheads is a bad film IMO.

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by party animal - not! on Sun Jul 20 2014, 01:59

Mm, I think you have to be interested in the historical facts, becos I took someone who was involved and he said it was extremely accurate. I'd also read the book

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

Post by Katiedot on Wed Oct 22 2014, 19:17

Another update on this, found by Henway:

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George Clooney coming to Coronado?

By Scott Marks, Oct. 21, 2014

It’s the summer of ’69, and a Spanish teacher/swim instructor at Coronado High School masterminds what would come to be the West Coast’s most enterprising and successful marijuana-smuggling operation. All it took was a handful of Lou Villar’s hippie surfer pals to grab their boards and float the pot across the Tijuana border. The $100 million reefer empire eventually struck a reef in the form of interference on the part of the DEA.

Fact-based events such as these can only happen in the movies, right? That’s what George Clooney’s Smokehouse Pictures and Columbia Studios are banking on. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Debora Cahn, Emmy-nominated writer and consulting producer on Grey’s Anatomy, is on board to adapt Joshuah Bearman’s investigative article “Coronado High.”

Bearman also penned the Wired article that inspired Argo, the 2012 thriller that won a Best Picture Oscar for Clooney and producing partner Grant Heslov. No word on who will star as Villar or whether Clooney will direct. For all we know they’ll green-screen Coronado on the Burbank backlot. If they do bring a crew to town, here’s hoping there’s a part in it for local treasure Alan Arkin, who earned a best supporting Oscar nom in Argo.

And while I’m dreaming, it sure would be sweet if cinematographer Robert Elswit, a frequent Clooney/Heslov collaborator (Good Night, and Good Luck, The Men Who Stare at Goats) and subject of next week’s slam-bang Big Screen interview, is hired to shoot.

Not sure why they mentioned this as it doesn't seem to be anything new.

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Re: George Clooney and Grant Heslov set to Produce "Coronado High"?

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