EXCLUSIVE: In a pre-emptive situation, MGM has secured a deal for the feature film project Jim Jones, with Leonardo DiCaprio in final talks to star as the 1970s religious cult leader who was behind the Jonestown mass suicide on November 18, 1978 that took more than 900 lives. The Oscar winner will produce for his Appian Way company alongside Jennifer Davisson.
MGM scooped up the Scott Rosenberg-penned script in what we hear was a seven-figure deal. The Venom scribe will also executive produce Jim Jones.
Jones founded the Peoples Temple in Indianapolis in 1955, and hailed it as a fully integrated congregation promoting Christian Socialism. By the 1970s he openly rejected traditional Christianity and claimed that he was God. He constructed Jonestown in Guyana in 1974 and spurred a following to live with him there as he touted a socialist paradise free from U.S. government oppression.
Amid rumors of human rights abuses, the American government sent a delegation led by U.S. Representative Leo Ryan in November 1978. Ryan, along with four others, would eventually be gunned down by Jones’ followers. Following the shooting, Jones orchestrated a mass murder-suicide of his followers, which took the lives of 918 commune members, 304 of them children, in an act that entailed drinking Flavor Aid laced with cyanide.
It's been a big week for ol' Leo D, and it's not even hump day yet (although every day is hump day for LD, and I'm not talking about Larry David, although he does pretty well in the pussy department on Curb).
First, he was getting death threats (lol) from noted funny man Jeff Bezos because he was embarrassed that his chick who (from Jeff's perspective) likes me for m----oney was about to get scooped up like a ground ball by Leo at some Gala event.
It's absolutely fucking wild that Jeffrey Bezos quote-tweeted Barstool.
"Joking" death threats from an oligarch who doesn't pay taxes could be the biggest story of most people's week, but Leonardo DiCaprio is not most people.
Yesterday, news dropped that Leo is playing Jim Jones in an upcoming biopic about the Reverend turned Cult Leader; not to be confused with the rapper who had everybody (myself included) in my high school yelling "balllllin'" back in '06-07.
I hate to sound too overzealous expressing my excitement about a movie that tells the life of a literal cult leader responsible for the most significant loss of American lives in a non-natural disaster until the September 11th attacks, BUT, as a historian, it's one of my favorite topics. I have a Jonestown encyclopedia where my brain should be. This news is huge for me. Call me Bart Scott 'cause I can't wait for this movie.
Jim Jones is a piece of shit; he loved sloppy steaks and lived for New Year's Eve, but he's a person whose story should not be forgotten. Based on the number of conversations I've had about this topic (not nearly enough), most people I've interacted with don't have much knowledge about the Peoples Temple. Jonestown is a tragic, cautionary tale that people need to learn from. Some movies are just entertainment, but this is important work. Ironically, this sign hung inside the Peoples Temple Agriculture Project pavilion, where members would routinely practice mock suicides known as "white nights."
#Triggerwarning as this photo is from the real one.
Jim Jones wasn't right about much, but that statement couldn't be more accurate. It's why history knowledge is vital. Say it with me; knowledge is power. If more people knew about the Beer Hall Putsch, maybe there would be more urgency in putting everybody involved with January 6th behind bars? Most people have used the term "drinking the kool-aid" or "don't drink the kool-aid," but I'd bet most don't know its origin.
I shouldn't say that I love Jonestown because I don't love the fact that over 900 people died because some drugged-out, paranoid freak had a Jesus complex, but knowing way too much about it is sort of my swag. I bring it up all the time. I'm fascinated with everything relating to Jonestown.
I hope this movie tells the whole story and horrors of cults. (If you haven't seen the recent docs/docuseries about Waco and Heavens Gate they're both must watch) With age, I've gotten a little less judgmental. A few years ago, I would've judged the shit out of people who joined cults for being stupid and weak, but cult leaders prey on lost souls. When you're hurting, it's easy to get sucked up in something, especially with a charismatic leader like Jim Jones. (Same with David Koresh and Marshall Applewhite) Jone's early messages of Christianity and racial equality, especially when that was not the norm, were attractive to progressives trying to change the racist ways of the era.
The Peoples Temple started in Indiana in the 50s, then moved to San Francisco before heading to Guyana. Harvey Milk and other San Fran-based politicians and groups had "relations" with the Peoples Temple despite never mentioning it in his biopic. I really hope that gets said in the film. I loved Milk but had no clue about his affiliations with the Temple until almost a decade after its release. Unfortunately for the victims at Jonestown, there was a lot of victim-blaming at the time, and with Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone's assassinations taking place just nine days after the massacre, coverage, and interest in the story faded quickly.
I'm not some cinephile; I joke about how many of the classics I've never seen all the time, but there's no denying Leo's skill and range as an actor. I've seen a decent chunk of his filmography and it's hard to find a movie he's in that isn't good. Sure, J. Edgar was a snoozefest and painted that creeper in a little too positive of a light for my liking, but my hopes are sky high for this film! It's a story that needs to be told, but also has to be handled delicately and someone as well-respect as Leo seems like the right man for the job. There's plenty of debate regarding the mass-suicide vs. mass-murder arguments, but over 300 of the victims were children who had no choice. The fucked up part of Jonestown is that they killed the kids first, which made many parents less resistant to taking the Flavor-Aid. I could go on for another 10,000 words, but it's way too late and I want to fall asleep tonight. Hopefully, Jim Jones is historically accurate; if you need any help, MGM, I'm your guy!
While November 18th isn't remembered the same way as 9/11, it's undoubtedly a shitty birthday to have. Poor Papi!
Jim Jones' son, Stephan Jones was on the Jonestown basketball team (yes that was a real thing) and missed the mass-suicide/murder because they were away for a game. Talk about "ball is life."