‘Kill the Messenger’: An international thriller with Sacramento roots

09/01/2014 8:13 PM

10/08/2014 12:58 PM

In “Kill the Messenger” (Oct. 10, N.Y./L.A.), two-time Oscar nominee and Modesto native Jeremy Renner plays late Carmichael resident and investigative reporter Gary Webb.

Webb covered the Capitol for the San Jose Mercury News and in 1996 wrote its “Dark Alliance” series alleging links between the CIA and the 1980s crack cocaine market.

Other publications disputed Webb’s findings. The Mercury News reassigned Webb to its Cupertino bureau, and he left the paper in 1997.

Webb later worked for the state Assembly as a committee consultant, and for the Sacramento News & Review. He committed suicide in 2004.

“Messenger” was adapted, by screenwriter and former journalist Peter Landesman, from Webb’s book “Dark Alliance” and Nick Schou’s book about Webb, “ Kill the Messenger.”

The film was directed by Michael Cuesta, onetime executive producer of the Showtime CIA drama “Homeland.” The trailer for “Messenger” exhibits a “Homeland”-esque thriller feel as it shows Renner, as Webb, moving between Washington, D.C., and Nicaragua, always with a reporter’s notebook.

Renner cuts a dashing figure in the trailer, wearing aviator sunglasses and driving a sports car. This aspect of the characterization of Webb seems in keeping with reports of the real man.

“I would call him ‘a guy’s guy,’ ” said Tom Dresslar, who worked with Webb as an oversight investigator for the Assembly. “He had a great sense of humor, and he was a lot of fun to hang out with.”

When it came to investigative work, Webb bore down, said Dresslar. “You couldn’t ask for a better colleague.”

Carla Meyer


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