Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Jesse James Hollywood

Alpha Dog

Director Nick Cassavetes
Director Nick Cassavetes

Of course the Hollywood story had to be made into a movie. Sex, drugs, murder, teenagers gone wild: the tale had it all. Director Nick Cassavetes took up the challenge, telling the New York Times he became interested in the story because his eldest daughter was a student at the same high school Hollywood attended.

Beyond the superficial drama, he told the paper, he was interested in exploring how boys who want to appear tough can box themselves into behaving that way. That's what he imagines happened during Nick's kidnapping — that the young men egged on each others' tough-guy images until finally someone took it too far and murdered Nick Markowitz.

"We watch violent images on TV, we revere violence, but we're not raised violently," he told the Times. "And when we're put in a situation, we act how we think we should act, as opposed to how we've been trained to or how we have a history of acting."

Alpha Dog movie poster
Alpha Dog movie poster

After he finished shooting half of the $13 million flick Alpha Dog — which stars Justin Timberlake, Bruce Willis, and Sharon Stone — Hollywood was arrested in Brazil, and he had to go back and revise the storyline based on the emerging facts.

But the setbacks didn't end there. He was subpoenaed by Hollywood's defense lawyer, James Blatt, who accused prosecutor Ron Zonen of misconduct for showing Cassavetes nonpublic documents related to the case. Blatt asked the California Supreme Court to have Zonen removed from the case; the court is slated to make a decision on the case by May 2.

Furthermore, Blatt has threatened to seek an injunction against the release of the movie, saying it would taint potential jurors.

"Names are changed, but they advertised it as a true story and everyone's going to know it's the Jesse James Hollywood story," Blatt told USA Today.

Alpha Dog premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January to mixed reviews. New Line Cinema had originally scheduled the release for April, but now says the date is "to be determined," according to press reports.

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