Hoffman eyes Rampart scandal pic

'Planet' helmer could guide film for Canton Co., Absolute

After making his feature debut directing “Red Planet,” Antony Hoffman is orbiting as his possible next project a film focusing on the Rampart scandal, which has been the LAPD’s biggest embarrassment since the Rodney King beating. The Canton Co. and Absolute Entertainment have joined forces in a six-figure deal to option “LAPD Confidential,” a recent New York Times Magazine article that will be used as the basis for the film.

The Oct. 1 article was written by Lou Cannon, an author who wrote “Official Negligence,” a dissection of the Rodney King trial and the riots that followed in 1992.

The piece focuses on the origins of the scandal, which revolved around disgraced officer Rafael Perez and members of the Rampart division of Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (CRASH), an undercover task force designed to stem the flow of violence and drug business among street gangs. Perez and others turned it into a license for corruption.

Public defender p.o.v.

The story is told from the vantage point of public defender Tamar Toister, whose rights are part of the movie transaction. She represented a Spanish-speaking gang member who’d been struck down in a hail of bullets and left paralyzed by Perez and another cop. They claimed the man tried to assassinate them while they monitored gang activity from a command post.

Though the gang member was one of seven cases she was trying that day, Toister refused a plea bargain that would have given her client 13 years. She took the case to trial before a hostile judge who refused to allow Toister to cross examine the officers on inconsistencies in their testimony. The gang member was convicted and sentenced to a 23-year sentence, but the public defender’s scrutiny on Perez and other cops was the first indication that the cops might be lying.

When several other incidents followed, including a bank robbery masterminded by a former CRASH officer and close friend of Perez, plus the discovery that cocaine was missing from LAPD evidence storage that had been signed out by Perez, internal affairs arrested the officer.

He promptly exposed the misdeeds of a department that had been left autonomous in its fight against gang violence, the result being that some members turned to drug dealing and violence that was just as bad as the gangs they were supposed to be monitoring.

The original paralyzed gang member maimed by Perez and his partner turned out to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, with the cops planting a weapon on him after they gunned the man down.

Hoffman, a prolific commercials director whose film “Red Planet” bowed over the weekend, could conceivably make this his next project, though it’s presumed he might take another job before the projected SAG/WGA strike. A writer has to be hired, a script developed.

The film will be produced by Mark Canton of the Canton Co., and Julio Caro of Absolute Entertainment. The deal was put together by a group of ICM agents: Todd Feldman and David Unger repped Antony; Ron Bernstein and Kris Dahl repped Cannon, Matt Moneypenny repped Toister. Attorney Julie Phillips repped the Canton Co.