Azie Faison Jr. may be the only New Yorker who doesn’t want his life glamorized on the big screen.
The legendary Harlem drug dealer – who got out of the business (barely) alive after a 1987 shooting that made front-page news – is unhappy with the Miramax biopic Paid in Full. He wanted the movie to be a cautionary tale about the perils of drug-dealing, not one that celebrates that lifestyle.
“After I was shot, the doctor said, ‘This man’s dead,’ ” says Faison, “but God saved me. He said, ‘Bring the drug game to an end.’ “
Faison (nicknamed AZ) had hoped Paid in Full would help accomplish that goal. “I gave this man a powerful screenplay,” he says of producer Damon Dash, “but now it seems more like a marketing plan to promote his rappers. Plus Cam’ron” – a rapper who’s in the film – “is too rah-rah about the drug game.”
Dash admits that “Cam’ron never experienced the dealer’s life” but dismisses Faison’s criticism: “If you want to call it a marketing tool, fine.”
Faison concedes that the film’s grim, violent ending might still be an effective anti-drug PSA. “It’s a good movie, don’t get me wrong. But this” – he holds up his original script, called Trapped – “is a masterpiece. This is the black Titanic.”