Where We Live: Oregon author Randall Sullivan


Sullivan's investigative work and subsequent books inspired the film "City of Lies"

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — An Oregon author is getting to see his investigation into a high-profile murder case play out on the big screen.

The 1997 murder of The Notorious B.I.G. is the subject of “City of Lies” in theaters now. It stars Johnny Depp as the late Los Angeles Police Detective Russell Poole, who investigates the murder and what he believed to be a cover-up. Forest Whitaker essentially plays Oregon investigative journalist Randall Sullivan.

“City of Lies” is based on Sullivan’s 2003 book “LAbyrinth” followed by 2019’s “Dead Wrong.” Sullivan was a writer for “Rolling Stone” in the 1990s and was assigned to look into corruption within the LAPD. He and Detective Poole delved into that corruption and found officers within the LAPD on the payroll of Death Row Records founder Suge Knight.

Knight was with rival rapper Tupac Shakur when Shakur was also killed in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas several months before Biggie’s murder.

“Biggie was not the only and maybe even not the primary target. They were trying to get Puffy Combs as well,” Sullivan said. “But I do think there was a real connection between Tupac’s murder and Biggie’s.”

Sullivan’s home in Gearhart, Oregon couldn’t be further from the dangerous world of corrupt police officers, gangs and drive-by shootings. Raised in Coos Bay, Sullivan always kept a home in Portland and moved to Gearhart as the pandemic set in.

“Well, it’s home. I grew up here,” he said. “The call of it has always been deep in me, even all the years I lived in New York and Los Angeles, I still kind of always thought of Oregon as home.”

Sullivan — who has hosted shows on The History Channel and the Oprah Winfrey Network — is happy to be home, even with his book adapted into a movie starring two Hollywood A-listers.

“City of Lies” is playing at select theaters in Portland.

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