FIRST OFF . . .
Ilzamar Mendes, the widow of slain Brazilian ecologist Chico Mendes, refuses to back away from a movie deal she made with Brazil’s J.N. Filmes--a major setback for such big Hollywood names as Robert Redford, David Puttnam and Ted Turner, who are pursuing the film rights to Mendes’ story. Mendes’ widow purchased an ad in Monday’s Hollywood Reporter defending her deal and warning other producers that their continued pursuit of the project “can only hinder our fight for the defense of the Amazon forest.” However, a lawyer for the Chico Mendes Foundation released a statement this week confirming that a majority of the foundation’s leaders--who are legally responsible for administering the rights to Mendes’ story--rejected the J.N. Filmes deal at a July 3 meeting. Despite her claim that she was acting on behalf of the foundation, the leaders said that the widow acted “entirely without support or approval of the foundation.” The story of Chico Mendes, who was murdered outside his Brazilian home in December, is one of the most hotly pursued film projects in recent Hollywood history.