Filmmaker stands by ''Biggie & Tupac,'' despite report
Nick Broomfield thought he was done with ”Biggie & Tupac.” The British filmmaker had spent more than a year researching his documentary on the deaths of rappers Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G., and he had the perfect climax: a tense sit-down with Death Row Records founder Marion ”Suge” Knight, shot at California’s Mule Creek State Prison.
Then Broomfield, 54, saw the Sept. 6 Los Angeles Times. In it was an offscreen epilogue: the first part of a two-part article — by Pulitzer Prize winner Chuck Philips — that contradicted much of Broomfield’s investigation. The film implies that Knight had a role in Shakur’s murder (which Knight denies), while Philips reported that New York City-based B.I.G. (a.k.a. Christopher Wallace) said he would give L.A. gang members his own gun and $1 million to kill his rival. (Wallace’s family denies he had any involvement in the murder.)
For Broomfield, the revelations are a frustrating last-minute glitch. But the director claims Philips’ findings ”[don’t] undercut anything that’s being said in the movie,” and he won’t reedit ”B&T” to address them. (Philips declined to comment.) In fact, the film, which opens Sept. 27 in several cities, is getting an extra jolt of publicity. As Elliot Lavine, a spokesman for distributor Roxie Releasing, notes: ”My concern was, I wonder if people will really care? [Now] I feel confident that they will.”
Ironically, it was the L.A. Times that drew Broomfield to gangland turf in the first place. Two years ago, producer Michele d’Acosta tried to persuade Broomfield to look into why the friendship between B.I.G. and Shakur dissolved into a bitter war of words, ending in murder. (Shakur was gunned down in Las Vegas on Sept. 7, 1996; B.I.G. was slain in a drive-by shooting in L.A. on March 9, 1997.) Despite the contentious material, the director — best known for 1998’s ”Kurt & Courtney,” a film that implied Courtney Love may have had a hand in husband Kurt Cobain’s death (which she has repeatedly denied) — initially had trouble finding the project’s rhythm. ”I felt this was something I couldn’t bring very much to,” says Broomfield. He changed his mind when he read an L.A. Times article about Russell Poole, a former police officer who felt the LAPD hadn’t thoroughly investigated Shakur’s death. ”I thought it was [now] much more of a political story.”