(From Left) Mark Wolper, Veteran Filmmaker; Cathy Scott, Los Angeles Times bestselling writer; Mike Sager, Best selling author and award winning reporter; Jody Armour, USC Law Professor; “Freeway” Rick Ross, former drug trafficker.
*It’s been over a quarter-century since former notorious druglord “Freeway” Ricky Ross was in business.
During his heyday, the crack epidemic plagued inner-city neighborhoods like a never-ending storm, and at it’s eye stood Ross, easily the West Coast’s most prominent peddler of the drug.
Then, bearded and brash, young Ross and his trafficking posse terrorized and intoxicated thousands upon thousands of addicts looking to score a cheap high, which “Freeway” Ricky made possible with a little elbow grease and baking soda.
The result–a multi-million dollar operation, characteristic of Nino Brown’s empire in New jack City (without all the bells, whistles and Gumby haircuts). After several years of dodging police and moving gorilla weight from distant lands, Ross was finally captured and brought up on a dizzying number of criminal charges. Defeated and responsible for single-handedly revolutionizing crack distribution during the Reagan Administration, Ross was made an example for other dealers not yet caught, and was sentenced to life imprisonment after a lengthy trail in 1996. As luck would have it, and maybe some “dime-dropping,” Ross was released in 2009, a far cry from the judge’s original life-sentencing, which countless others are serving for perpetrating a lot less.
Now a free man, Ross has dedicated the remainder of his days to warding off inner-city youth from embracing street life and the drug trade. He, along with veteran TV and film producer Mark Wolper (Bates Motel-whose father, legendary producer David Wolper, and Antonio Moore, managing member of Freeway Studios), have announced that they are planning a cable TV mini-series about the enduring saga of Ross, his drug empire and his historic downfall. Esquire’s Mike Sager briefly synopsizes the project in his article for the magazine’s 80th anniversary issue.
“Say Hello to Rick Ross,” is more the than just a story, however, it’s Sager’s way of reintroducing Ross to society as a changed man–presumably.
On a crisp Wednesday evening in Los Angeles at Leimert Park’s Vision Theater – Ross, Wolper, Sager and two others (Author Cathy Scott and Law Professor Jody Armour) assembled to host a symposium, discussing television’s lack of positive black images as well as the impact of drugs on the black community (past and present).
“I heard Rick Ross’ story, which oddly enough as a student of history I was not familiar with, his personal history and his journey through this whole thing,” Wolper cautiously explained to the audience. “I became familiar with it, and for the last two years I’ve been chasing him and convinced him that there is a mini-series or a limited series i his story. A story of the African-American experience in urban Los Angeles during the 1980′s and the whole Iran-Contra scandal through this pretty amazing period of time in America. So what we have finally, as of a couple of days ago, come to an agreement, after discussing this for several years, and now we are going to go out and turn this into a mini-series.”
Freeway Ricky also chimed in, “”Well the first thing I would say is that I went to prison and did my time. And not only do I have remorse, I’m right now going around making amends, trying to derail the system that is still setting up young innocents, setting young boys ans girls up.”
He continued, “I tell kids all the time, ‘Be careful what you ask for because sometimes you get what isn’t expected.’”