Sunday, June 23, 2024

Who shot Paco Stanley? Series rekindles interest in TV icon’s unsolved murder

A murder saga that captivated Mexico almost as much as the O.J. Simpson case gripped the United States is coming to Amazon Prime Video in “Who Killed Him?” on May 24.

The six-part miniseries will examine the unsolved murder of Paco Stanley, the Mexican TV presenter who was shot outside a popular Mexico City restaurant after enjoying a post-show lunch with his sidekicks on June 7, 1999 — nearly 25 years ago.

A large black SUV with its driver's side window shot out and men in suits standing around it
Mexican TV presenter Paco Stanley was shot dead in his car by three assailants. The case, which was in the media for over a year after his murder, captivated Mexicans. (Cuartoscuro)

Stanley, who was 56 at the time, hosted the show “Una tras otra” on TV Azteca, a rival to Televisa, the Mexican network where Stanley had been on air previously until 1998.

His personality, grace and humor fueled a career in radio and television that by the time of Stanley’s murder had made him one of the most beloved and recognizable celebrities in Mexico.

Each episode of “Quien lo Mató?” will be told through the point of view of one of the six people closest to Stanley at the time of his murder.

What gets revealed is a complex, behind-the-scenes story of fame, betrayal, excess and the dark side of the entertainment industry — at different moments pointing to different suspects. The miniseries also delves into potential motives behind Stanley’s murder.

There’s also a storyline about drug use and possible links to drug trafficking. 

Upon his death, authorities found cocaine in Stanley’s blood, along with a small bag of the drug in his pocket, as well as a grinding kit. It was also discovered that he had legal clearance to carry firearms, a relative rarity in Mexico.

Actor Luis Gerardo Mendez
“The most interesting thing about the series is the representation of the comedy of errors of the Mexican justice system,” said actor Luis Gerardo Méndez, who plays Mario Bezares, an actor on Paco Stanley’s show “Una Tras Otra.” Bezares was jailed for over a year as a suspect in the TV host’s murder. (Amazon Prime)

Back in 1999, the murder of Paco Stanley was relentlessly covered by Mexican media, with news outlets exhausting every angle. Yet the public couldn’t seem to get enough of the story. Certain aspects of the media’s coverage — such as one of Stanley’s TV sidekicks being interviewed on live TV just seconds after attending Stanley’s funeral — even became hot debate points themselves.

Produced by Amazon Studios, the series falls into the realm of fiction; its online summary says it is “inspired” by real events.

The cast includes up-and-coming Mexican actor Roberto Duarte as Stanley in what could turn out to be a breakout role.

The more recognizable Luis Gerardo Méndez stars as Mario Bezares, the man who was Stanley’s sidekick first on Televisa and then followed him to TV Azteca and was initially arrested for his murder. Méndez is known for portraying soccer team co-owner Salvador “Chava” Iglesias in the hit Netflix comedy series “Club de Cuervos” and troubled police officer Victor Tapia in season 3 of the Netflix series, “Narcos: Mexico.”

“The most interesting thing about the series is the representation of the comedy of errors of the Mexican justice system,” Méndez said.

Though he was a friend of Stanley’s, Bezares was arrested as a suspect in the murder, along with another Stanley colleague, Paola Durante (played by the Mexican pop star and actress Belinda). Bezares was jailed for over a year. 

Bezares was leaving the bathroom at the restaurant where he, Stanley and another TV sidekick, Jorge Gil, had eaten lunch when gunfire sounded outside.

Three individuals approached Stanley in his Lincoln Navigator and fired more than 20 rounds, killing Stanley in the vehicle with four shots, including three to the head. 

Gil was also wounded, and went on to publish a book about the murder, called “My Truth.”

Gil is portrayed by Diego Boneta, who starred as Luis Miguel in the 2018 Netflix bio-series “Luis Miguel: The Series.”

Una tras Otra con Paco Stanley | Fragmentos del último programa | 07/06/1999

A video showing clips of Paco Stanley during his last appearance on “Una Tras Otra,” which he filmed live, hours before his murder.


The producers say “Who Killed Him?” is based on information from direct sources and from the files of both the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Mexico’s federal Attorney General’s Office on Stanley’s murder.

A trailer for the series — in Spanish but with English subtitles available — can be seen on YouTube. Since the trailer’s release on April 17, it has logged more than 20 million views — attesting to the interest in the series.

With reports from Reforma, El Debate, ImageAntra and L.A. Times Español

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