Monday, November 16, 2015

Richard Leakey, the renowned Kenyan palaeoanthropologist, has asked Angelina Jolie to tone down the sex and violence in a forthcoming film she is making about his life, fearing he will not be able to watch it with his grandchildren.
Mr Leakey, best known for his discoveries of important hominid fossils and now the chairman of Kenya's wildlife service, said he feared that his request might deter Miss Jolie’s husband Brad Pitt from taking the leading role.
"I have a reputation for having had a fairly full life but not nearly as full as that," Mr Leakey joked, referring to the first version of a script that Ms Jolie had been working on.
"Brad may not like the new script, he was the one having a good time. He might not like the new role – that doesn't have as much action.”
Mr Leakey, 70, the second of three sons born to the famed palaeoanthropologists Louis and Mary Leakey in colonial Kenya, has led a colourful life.
He entered the family trade after leaving school at 16 and in the 1970s appeared on the cover of Time magazine following a series of expeditions in Kenya. His discovery of KNM-ER 1470, a 1.9 million-year-old skull belonging to Homo rudolfensis, in particular, made him world-famous.
He was among the first conservationists to raise global awareness about the scourge of elephant poaching in east Africa in the 1980s and started the movement to burn ivory stockpiles that were regularly stolen and sold on by corrupt wildlife or government officials.
Twice married, he has over the years been close to death several times, having had two kidney transplants, one liver transplant, and losing both legs below the knee following a light aircraft crash in 1993.

There were suspicions that sabotage might have been involved in the crash, because of his tireless campaigning against government corruption and poaching in Kenya, but foul play was never proven.
Two years later, he formed his own political party and won a seat in parliament where he continued his conservation campaign. In 1999 international donors forced President Gideon Moi to appoint him as cabinet secretary and head of the civil service until he resigned in 2001.
But in April Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta asked him to return and run the Kenya Wildlife Service, tasked with tackling poaching, which remains a problem across the continent with Asian buyers willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for elephant tusks and rhino horns.
Plans for Ms Jolie's film were announced last year but it appeared that the prohibitive costs of making it in South Africa might kill the project, until the Kenyan government stepped in and created financial incentives to make it more affordable.
Mr Leakey said he hoped that a film about his life, combined with the cachet of having it directed by Ms Jolie, would help boost tourism and help with conservation in Kenya, just as Out of Africa, the Oscar-winning biopic of author Karen Blixen's life in colonial Kenya starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford had in the 1980s.
"We will make the film and it will be made in Kenya – for sure," he said. “The government told the treasury to make it happen and it is. Kenya needs this film, it will be a double benefit for us.”
Kenya’s tourism industry has suffered a massive drop in trade recently because of concerns about terrorist attacks by the Somali group al-Shabaab.


It's clear that Kenya very much wants Africa to get made and filmed in Kenya, and they may provide enough financial incentives to eventually help get the project off the ground.  But the film is still without a finished script that everyone can agree on.  From what we've seen with his work on Cleopatra, it may take a while before Eric Roth comes up with that script.  With post production on First They Killed My Father still to come,  I don't see any way "preparations for filming could start in early 2016."

-- Fussy

Kenyan conservationist says his Angelina Jolie-directed biopic to go ahead

A film to be directed by actor Angelina Jolie about the life of Kenyan conservationist Richard Leakey will be shot in Kenya, Leakey told reporters on Monday, giving what Nairobi hopes will be a boost to a struggling safari and tourism industry.

Kenya has been encouraging the film about Leakey, celebrated for campaigns to save wildlife from poachers, in the hope of bringing back tourists who have shunned the country after attacks blamed on al Shabaab militants from neighboring Somalia.

The film could put Kenya back on film-makers' radar and help recover business that has been lost to South Africa, just as the Academy Award winning film "Out of Africa" did for the country three decades ago, when its portrayal of author Karen Blixen's life in colonial Kenya drew tourists in droves.

"We will make the film and it will be made in Kenya - for sure," 70-year-old Leakey told a news conference.

The film project has struggled to secure financing and agree on a script, while South Africa has pushed to be the location for filming, Leakey and others involved in the project have previously said.

Leakey said he discussed the project with Jolie a week ago and was confident a new script, cutting out some of the violence in the previous version, would be ready in a few months. Preparation for filming could start in early 2016, Leakey said.

Hollywood actor Brad Pitt, Jolie's husband, had previously been linked to the main role but Leakey said that would depend on whether Pitt liked the new script.

Leakey, who will step down from his post as chairman of the Kenya Wildlife Service at the end of the year, also said progress was being made in the fight against poachers - 83 elephants were killed by poachers in Kenya in 2015, down from 302 in 2013.

(Editing by Angus Berwick and Ralph Boulton)

afp via dailymail

Kenya to destroy vast ivory stockpile from thousands of elephants

Veteran conservationist Richard Leakey, chairman of the government's Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), said the ivory would be destroyed in the year ahead.

Leakey, a world famous paleontologist, said he was also hopeful a film by Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie about his life would be filmed in Kenya, saying a script packed full of romance and violence was being toned down.

"I have a reputation for having had a fairly full life but not nearly as full as that," the 70-year old said, who refused to confirm rumours Brad Pitt was tipped to play him in the film.

"I wish I could tell you yes or no ... he may not like the new script, he was the one having a good time so maybe in the new one, he might not like it," he joked.

Ivory is sought out for jewellery and decorative objects and much of it is smuggled to China, where many increasingly wealthy shoppers are buying ivory trinkets as a sign of financial success.

Kenya's stockpile, if illegally sold on the black market at current prices, could be worth some $270 million (over 251 million euros), but conservationists say sale of ivory only serves to fuel further poaching.

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