Before 2010 came to a close, the latest blacklist emerged with the usual industry interest, some snide remarks, and excitement for the possibility of fresh, interesting material. I devoted a New Flesh piece to looking at the history of the blacklist and taking a closer look at some of the titles in the latest batch. One of those screenplays that especially caught my eye was American Bullshit, and apparently it caught Ben Affleck’s eye as well- he’s strongly considering it as his next project.
Here’s my bit about it from the Blacklist piece…
AMERICAN BULLSHIT by Eric Warren Singer
“The true story of Abscam, the FBI’s 1980 undercover sting operation of Congress to root out corruption which was the brainchild of the world’s greatest con man.”
Provocative (and probably soon modified) title aside, this is the really cool story of the FBI’s “Abdul Enterprises” sting, which had them entrapping congressmen into shady doings with a made-up Arab sheik. They ended up busting 5 House reps, an immigration inspector, some Jersey and Philly politicians, and also the first senator to be imprisoned in well over half a century. What’s great is that the FBI hired a con-man to lead the whole thing! There was a ton of controversy about the methods the FBI used, but all of their convictions were ultimately upheld. The whole thing was supposed to be made into a movie starring Aykroyd and Belushi in the early 80s, but it was one of many projects to die along with Belushi. This could be a hell of flick.
…and you know what? I think Affleck is a great choice to turn this into a hell of a flick, and it could be a choice that turns Affleck into an even better director. The Town demonstrated that Affleck knows how to assemble a sophisticated thriller, and that he can expertly manage tension between characters as a director. If there is any weak point to The Town it’s the script though, which left a number of the characters higher and drier than they really should have been in such an otherwise solid heist film (though I hear the director’s cut alleviates that to some degree). Given a powerful script that already has a solid bedrock of well-written characters, Affleck’s handle on directing actors and navigating character dynamics will really shine. I’m crossing my fingers for this marriage of material and filmmaker.
Deadline, who brought this news to light in the first place, points out that Affleck is a popular guy with a lot on his potential slate, so this is still only one of his many options. We’ve covered The Trade, his wife-swapping flick that might also star Matt Damon and Casey Affleck, and he’s also got a a body-switching, Goundhog Day-type movie called Replay to consider. The Trade is definitely something I’d like to see happen but at the risk of over-exploiting my inconceivable power of influence over your decisions, I think American Bullshit is the way to go Mr. Affleck.
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