El Paso Times shares screen with Brad Pitt in ‘The Counselor’

If it bleeds, it leads: This fictional edition of the El Paso Times was featured in The Counselor, starring Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender. (Twentieth Century Fox)

If it bleeds, it leads: This fictional edition of the El Paso Times was featured in The Counselor, starring Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender. (Twentieth Century Fox)

Since last summer, the El Paso Times has had to keep its newfound celebrity under wraps.  Now, with the release of Ridley Scott’s latest film, The Counselor, the El Paso Times can admit to sharing screen time with the likes of Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender and Cameron Diaz.

At the time of the film’s release in October, El Paso Times editor Bob Moore had this to say on his Facebook page:

“Now that “The Counselor” has opened, I’m free from a non-disclosure agreement and can explain a photo that surfaced last summer. The Times was approached by the producers to provide a newspaper with a specific headline that would be important to the plot. Carlita Montoya produced the design and Armando Durazo wrote the text of the story (working on guidance from the producers.)”

The photo Moore refers to is this snapshot of Brad Pitt holding an issue of the Times that was specially created for the film’s production. This image was released by producers of The Counselor in the summer of 2012 to build buzz around the film.

The film is written by celebrated novelist Cormac McCarthy, his first original screenplay for a Hollywood movie. McCarthy also lived in El Paso for a while, just around the corner from Moore in fact, though Moore says he never met the notoriously reclusive writer.

Filming took place in El Paso last summer and that’s when the Times was approached by Jonathan Boreham who represented The Counselor’s film company.

“­­­­He said part of the script included a newspaper headline that moved the plot along. He asked if the producers could use the El Paso Times rather than a generic newspaper,” said Moore.

How they produced the ‘Counselor’ edition of the Times
The Times received very specific instructions from the producers of the film. They were asked to produce a front page with a strip lead of a death in New Mexico (the headline was written for them). The Times was also asked for a photograph of a police car on a dirt road with yellow police tape. Senior editors Carlita Montoya and Armando Durazo took charge of the project. Montoya produced the design and Durazo wrote the text of the article.

“I produced a page that met those requirements for him. Additionally, I produced several prototypes for him with minor tweaks,” said Montoya, of the faux paper. “In the final communication, he asked that we remove skybox photos that had people or companies in them for litigious reasons.”

When Durazo was given the front page story from the production company, he insisted the Times re-write the piece on the event as a hard-hitting news story.

“When he saw their version, he said, ‘Hell no, we’re going to do a news story.’” Said Montoya. “For a byline, he used a combination of his family members.”

“You can’t see it on the screen, obviously, but it was kind of cool to add that sort of realism,” said Moore of the final product.

The Times printed this special edition of the paper after a regular newspaper run. One-hundred copies were bundled and given to crew who worked on the film as mementos.

Catch another glimpse of the paper in the international trailer for ‘The Counselor’ at the 1:22 mark.

This isn’t the Times’ only brush with Hollywood this year either. The FX series ‘The Bridge‘ was also set in El Paso, featuring a number of appearances by the newspaper and ElPasoTimes.com in the first season.

“One of the secondary characters in the show was referred to in the pilot as ‘that dickwad reporter from the El Paso Times.’ We loved it.” says Moore.

Simran Khosla

By Simran Khosla

Simran Khosla is a former Thunderdome intern. During her fall 2013 internship, she was a Graduate Student at NYU Journalism’s Studio 20 program, working to innovate online media. Prior to Thunderdome, Simran interned at various public radio stations, including WBEZ in Chicago. Originally from Bombay, India, Simran lived all over Asia prior to getting an undergraduate degree at Emory University in Atlanta. She likes data, designing, and doodles.

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