(Update 2:51 p.m.: Rick Ross has sent TheWrap an exclusive statement, which has been edited for spelling and grammar. "Please be aware that I will still be moving forward with my motion picture written by Nick Cassavetes. I am not involved with 'Kill the Messenger.' This does not affect my relationship with Cassavetes or Nick Cannon. My story is the heart of what happened from 79-95. People have to understand Gary Webb came into the story 10 years after it was over. This is his story from the outside as a reporter. Much of how the actual explosion of Crack happened and my life story won't be in their piece. It will be in mine, along with the reality of the impact economically, socially and racially. We also have our documentary coming out directed by Marc Levin tentatively titled 'A Crack in the System' nearing completion.")
"Boardwalk Empire" star Michael K. Williams is in negotiations to play "Freeway" Rick Ross alongside Jeremy Renner in Focus Features' thriller "Kill the Messenger," two individuals familiar with the project have told TheWrap.
Williams (top left) is eager to tackle the brief-yet-key role but will have to overcome a significant obstacle and work out shooting dates with his "Boardwalk" producers, as "Kill the Messenger" starts production in the coming weeks in Atlanta.
Michael Cuesta ("Homeland") is directing from a script by Peter Landesman, who adapted Nick Schou's book. Scott Stuber is producing through his Bluegrass Films banner along with The Combine's Renner and Don Handfield, as well as Naomi Despres. Landesman will executive produce.
"Messenger" tells the true story of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gary Webb, whose reporting exposed the CIA's involvement in helping Nicaragua's Contra rebels import cocaine into California during the 1980s. Webb was found shot to death in 2004 in what the coroner determined to be a suicide, but foul play has long been suspected.
In "Kill the Messenger," Rick Ross (top right) will be depicted as a wealthy, powerful drug dealer who's in jail awaiting trial. With Webb's help, he realizes he's just a small pawn in a larger game being played by the CIA and the U.S. government.
Between his breakout performance as Omar Little on "The Wire" and his current turn as Chalky White on "Boardwalk Empire," Williams has become a fixture on HBO. He recently appeared alongside Dwayne Johnson in "Snitch" and will soon be seen alongside fellow TV star Joel Kinnaman in "RoboCop." Williams also co-stars in Steve McQueen's drama "12 Years a Slave." He's repped by ICM Partners.