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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BATTLE OVER CALIFORNIA’S REDWOODS TAKES ROOT IN FEATURE FILM
SAN FRANCISCO, California, July 12, 2004 --/WORLD-WIRE/-- mPixx Entertainment, Inc. has joined forces with San Francisco-based producer E. Kevin Collins to bring David Harris’ acclaimed book, “The Last Stand: The War Between Wall Street and Main Street Over California’s Ancient Redwoods,” to the big screen.
A true saga of corruption, corporate greed and attempted murder, Harris’ tome chronicles the hostile takeover of the venerable Pacific Lumber Company by Houston-based Maxxam Corporation in the mid-80s, and the impassioned efforts of a small-town lawyer to save the world’s last private stands of old-growth redwoods from Maxxam’s chainsaws.
“It’s a classic David and Goliath story,” said Collins. “In the best tradition of Frank Capra, a committed individual stands up against a multinational corporation.”
Collins and mPixx acquired film rights and subsequently assigned them to an LLC formed specifically to develop the project. The Last Stand Group, LLC will be headquartered in San Francisco, with Collins serving as managing general partner. Primary producing duties will be handled in Los Angeles by mPixx principals Monte Christiansen and Simmie Noble Collins.
The film will follow a series of interwoven story lines involving the takeover and how it divided the residents of Scotia, a small logging community in northern California and the only company town left in America. Torn between tradition and sudden economic prosperity, the situation pitted brother against brother, and childhood friendships turned adversarial.
“What happened to Pacific Lumber is emblematic of what’s going on all around the world,” Collins acknowledged. “It’s about how big business is exploiting people and the planet in the name of ‘free enterprise’.”
Pacific Lumber, a family business for almost a century, stipulated a policy of never harvesting forests faster than they could grow, believing that the welfare of the land must share equal footing with company profits, regardless of the demand of the marketplace. These trees are the largest and oldest living things on earth, some predating the birth of Christ.
Enter a smooth-talking corporate raider from Texas with his sights set on the undervalued company. In a parable of all that went wrong with American business in the 1980s, Maxxam eventually leveraged control of the company with help from securities house Drexel Burnham Lambert, and a secret group of backers that included junk bond king Michael Milken and investment bankers Ivan Boesky and Boyd Jeffries.
Saddled with a whopping debt after the takeover, Maxxam abandoned the policy of selective cutting and began mowing down trees as quickly as possible to rev up cash flow -- a scheme that became known as the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This “rape and run” strategy ultimately decimated wildlife habitats, caused widespread flooding and mudslides, destroyed salmon-rich streams, and caused deep rifts in a land known for its serene majesty.
Within months, the new owner had stripped Pacific Lumber’s assets and plundered its pension fund -- and the redwoods themselves had become expendable pawns in a game of commercial self-indulgence. The welfare of the forest became secondary to a corporation’s bottom line.
The response of Bill Bertain, a hometown lawyer who had rarely handled anything larger than a divorce, was to fight back. Despite financial setbacks that nearly cost him his career and marriage, he went head to head with Maxxam in state and federal courts, bringing the conspiracy to the attention of Congress. Milken, Boesky and Jeffries were later indicted for securities fraud and sent to prison, and Drexel Burnham was forced into bankruptcy.
In the meantime, enraged by Maxxam’s indiscriminate logging practices, an army of young “eco-warriors” stepped in and conspired to stop the clear-cutting by staging protests, blocking roads, and risking their lives by living on small platforms high in trees slated to be cut down. The battle turned explosive when the movement’s leaders were victims of a car bomb.
The filmmakers will take the story further than Harris’ book, published in 1996 by Random House, as the redwoods continue to be a locus of an environmental holy war, with skirmishes still fought in courtrooms, on back roads, in the media, and in the homes of local residents who are angry that the forests are disappearing. Today less than 3% of the virgin redwoods remain standing, and those are expected to vanish within the next ten years.
CONTACT: E. Kevin Collins, 415-665-7069, firstname.lastname@example.org
mPixx Entertainment, 818-986-2186, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, www.thelaststandmovie.com (coming soon)