Jennifer Lopez’s 50th birthday celebration continues with news she’s landed her dream film role. While we know Alex Rodriguez gifted her with a fancy new Porsche, this new gig is just as much of a coveted present, and she’s wanted it for years.
Once again, JLo is circling the life story of Colombian drug lord Griselda Blanco in the newly-announced film, The Godmother. She’ll also produce the film with her longtime creative partners Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas and Benny Medina, and more importantly, JLo may jump into the director’s chair too, making her feature directorial debut. Indiewire reports Blanco grew to become a key player in Miami’s cocaine drug wars back in the 1980s, and estimates her net worth was once valued at a reported $2-billion or more. Blanco took ruthless to another level, and this film will likely chronicle her rise and fall.
August 10, 2016:
"I’ve been fascinated by the life of this corrupt and complicated woman for many years… The idea of teaming with HBO felt like the perfect fit for finally bringing Griselda’s story to life.”
July 25, 2019:
"I’ve been forever fascinated by the story of Griselda Blanco and jumped at the chance to play her on screen. She is all things we look for in storytelling and dynamic characters — notorious, ambitious, conniving, chilling."
Can’t you hear the hunger now? How badly she wants this part? By adding the term “forever” before “fascinated,” and further embellishing Blanco’s character traits as “notorious, ambitious, conniving, chilling,” JLo outlines the complexity ahead, and shows how prepared she is to dive into this true crime saga. And, possibly, to show her work before tackling directing for the first time.
Then there’s the added significance that she’s playing a Latina figure. You know, compared to Catherine Zeta-Jones. Sure, she’s an Oscar winner, but when she played Blanco in Lifetime’s half-baked 2018 TV movie Cocaine Grandmother, it was accused of presenting schlocky brownface. Plus, as Maria wrote at the time, “the accents were indistinguishable gibberish,” and “the costumes looked like they were pulled from a trunk in the attic.” And there’s this:
Catherine Zeta-Jones on hearing that Jennifer Lopez is to produce and star in a Griselda Blanco biopic pic.twitter.com/IwBoWZNvFj— Guy Lodge (@GuyLodge) July 25, 2019
I realize there’s an extra layer of humour in using a well-known Mariah meme about JLo in a story about JLo… but here we are. This project also has another layer of pedigree with its screenwriting team of Regina Corrado (Deadwood, Sons of Anarchy) and Terence Winter (The Sopranos, The Wolf of Wall Street, and… Sister, Sister), who were not attached to her original HBO project. And JLo’s doubling down behind the scenes, reteaming with STXfilms for the third time to bring The Godmother to life. STXfilms has had its fair share of money and leadership drama recently, but they’ve mastered the low-to-mid budget adult feature. For every UglyDolls, they have a Bad Moms. And JLo’s Second Act, which was light and fun, earned $72-million worldwide on a $16-million production budget. JLo’s one of their big moneymakers, and one of their most marquee stars. So, there’s a confidence here on both sides of the business partnership, and a sense of cultural ownership too. Even though Marry Me — her upcoming rom-com with Maluma and Owen Wilson — switched studios to Universal, she still has the upcoming Hustlers due out for the studio in September (trust me, the claws are out to cover that World Premiere at TIFF in my office). Hustlers and Second Act, like The Godmother, are also projects JLo produced. And if Hustlers is as good and gritty as it looks (I’ve heard we should expect a return to Out of Sight JLo with even more sultry moves), this could further accelerate the path to starting The Godmother. One thing’s for sure – it looks like JLo is not about to let this project, and this role, slip out of her hands again.