Matthew Carnahan Tells of ‘Zebra Murders’

Last week I had the chance to chat with Matthew Michael Carnahan about his first major script The Kingdom, which hits theaters this Friday. During the interview we also talked about Lions for Lambs, the Robert Redford, Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise flick. We also talked about the Brad Pitt and Ed Norton starrer State of Play as well as Joe Carnahan’s adaptation of James Ellroy’s White Jazz starring George Clooney, but more on those on Monday.

Today I have for you what he is currently working on and it sounds fantastic. For anyone that loved Zodiac it sounds like this one could be just as good if it falls in the right hands.

Nope, sorry, it isn’t another superhero movie, the pic is called Zebra Murders and Carnahan is writing it for DreamWorks based on 23 attacks that occurred in San Francisco by a group of six African American men. To have me describe it would be a waste; here is how Carnahan described the entire pitch to me:

It’s a story called Zebra Murders for DreamWorks, and it’s this great, little story, little in terms that it was lost in the time of Zodiac, Watergate and the Vietnam kind of miasma. In San Francisco, in the early ’70s, six African American men from the Nation of Islam temple on Fillmore Street went around the city and were attacking white people at random. They killed fifteen and wounded eight. Everything from walking up behind an 80-year-old factory worker, putting a bullet in his head and jumping in a car to grabbing a couple, the Hague couple, on a walk one night. [The Hague’s were] new to the city, University of Colorado grads, freshly married, they were grabbed, put in a van and they began hacking both of them with machetes. The husband, who watched his wife be hacked to death, lived and the wife was killed and these guys had the city of San Francisco in absolute terror.

Mayor Alioto made African American males in San Francisco carry things called Zebra Cards, identification cards. It was this little slice of apartheid right in the middle of San Francisco in the ’70s and the city almost blew apart because of it.

The two cops that were instrumental in catching these six guys were African American themselves, in the middle of being as infuriated and frustrated and pissed off for all the same reasons and all the same causes these guys from the Nation of Islam were. It’s this amazing cognition you have when you are doing the research and realize that the real revolutionaries aren’t these idiots running around killing unarmed people, it’s these cops that choose to enter a predominately Irish, very racist, police department in San Francisco in this time frame and just through their own shear ability become great cops. The younger of the two, Earl Sanders, goes on to become the first black police chief in San Francisco’s history. That’s the story I am doing right now and I think it has all this great and raw material.

It’s just such a little gem of a story. If I can put two sentences together I think hopefully people will want to be involved.

Tell me you don’t want to see that movie. Imagine David Fincher getting hold of this one as well. If all this sounds good to you, wait until my full interview comes online. Carnahan and I chatted for 45 minutes on everything he has done and it is one hell of a read so stay tuned.


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