Friday, October 21, 2011

Snakehead Slithers to the Screen

I am smack in the middle of Hunter S. Thompson's first novel, The Rum Diary, which I'll blog about later. In the meantime, fans of Patrick Keefeln's The Snakehead: An Epic Tale Of The Chinatown Underworld And The American Dream.should be happy to hear that Flashlight Pictures wants Stephen Gaghan (Syriana) to direct the film version of the book, apparently Gaghan will focus on Sister Ping, a grandmother who operated a small noodle shop on Hester Street, all the while running a multimillion-dollar operation smuggling illegal Chinese immigrants. The immigrants were basically slaves, having to work off their $18,000 transport fees. Sister Ping was a multi-milliaire in the 80s, runnning Chinatown's secretive community like a Mafioso. In the 90's, after a ship load of of illegal Chinese immigrants crashed  off the beach at Queens,  the FBI formed a special task force, (The Jade Squad)  spent years tracking down and finally getting their woman. Ping got a 35-year prison sentence. According to, 'Snakehead will focus on the intersection of Sister Ping’s empire with young Chinatown gangsters who wanted in when they realized how lucrative her smuggling business was. Gaghan doesn’t look at Sister Ping as a villain, noting that the grandchildren of some of those illegal immigrants realized their parents’ dreams and became doctors. There are statues of her in China. “The story is relevant today,” he said. “Humans are tribal but we migrate, and the forces driving that are hunger and opportunity, and now many of us are the ones migrating for jobs.”' 
Don't start googling looking for the films' stars yet, Gaghan is extremely busy right now. He's writing a script for Warner Brothers about the Mexican drug cartel which he'll also direct so it sounds like work on Snakehead is at least a year away.

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