Alex Winter Turns Napster Script Into a Documentary

     August 23, 2011

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Alex Winter, best known (however unfortunately) as Bill from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, has spent the better part of a decade trying to make a movie about Napster.  MTV Films announced in 2002 that Winter was attached to write and direct a feature based on the newly acquired rights to the life story of Napster co-founder Shawn Fanning.  The project was held up in development, long enough for The Social Network to become the quintessential movie about the digital revolution, including a notable appearance by fellow Napster co-founder Sean Parker (played by Justin Timberlake).

Winter still carries a flame for the story, and so will reposition it as a documentary backed by VH1.  Hit the jump to read more about Winter’s approach.

Winter told Deadline:

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“The rise and fall of Napster and the birth of peer-to-peer file-sharing technology created by Shawn Fanning when he was a college student, changed music to movies, and made possible everything from Julian Assange, WikiLeaks to the iPod and Facebook. It became an expression of youth revolt, and contributed to a complete shift in how information, media and governments work. And it is a fascinating human story, where this 18-year-old kid invents a peer-to-peer file-sharing system, and brings it to the world six months later.”

Winter makes a good case, though admittedly the case is an easy one to make.  Given the high drama, it’s too bad Winter couldn’t make the feature happen.  On the other hand, Winter says the documentary allows both sides to vent:

“Nobody wanted to deal with this college kid and the music industry took a hard stance and focused on shutting him down. It’s a gray area. I can understand Fanning’s side, but I can also empathize with the horror that Metallica’s Lars Ulrich felt when a single that wasn’t even finished ended up on the radio.”

Fanning and Parker are both involved with the project, and Winter has lined up a number of unspecified artists and executives to be talking heads.

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