Directors join up for ‘Freakonomics’

Documentarian team to adapt bestseller

A group of documentary directors are teaming for a docu based on “Freakonomics,” the bestselling book in which economist Steven D. Levitt uses theory and statistics to analyze pop culture phenomena.

Doc is being produced by Chad Troutwine (“Paris je t’aime”) and Seth Gordon (“The King of Kong”), and they have enlisted Morgan Spurlock (“Super Size Me”), Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing (“Jesus Camp”), Alex Gibney (“Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room”), Laura Poitras (“My Country My Country”), Eugene Jarecki (“Why We Fight”) and Jehane Noujaim (“Control Room”) to each direct a docu segment on chapters in the book.

Written by Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, “Freakonomics” has sold more than 3 million copies by using economic theories to analyze issues ranging from whether Adam Vinatieri could realistically be called football’s most clutch field goal kicker to more serious claims that teachers and sumo wrestlers cheat, that swimming pools are more dangerous to children than guns and that the drop in crime can be attributed to Roe v. Wade.

Jarecki will cover the last subject in his docu segment, while Gibney will focus on the cheating teachers and sumo wrestlers, the latter of which created a national scandal in Japan. The other directors are finalizing their topics. The 15 minute segments will be bound together to make a feature-length film.

Shooting will begin shooting in January and will be completed by summer.

Rafi Chaudry (“Paris je t’aime”) will be co-producer, and Gordon will provide the intro and interstitials between each segment.

Gordon, whose docu “The King of Kong” is being turned into a feature by New Line and who’s going to direct Vince Vaughn in the comedy “Four Christmases,” said he sparked to the book because his parents are economics teachers and that made the theories familiar to him. He found a kindred spirit in Troutwine, who’ll put up the financing if necessary, though distributors are already interested.

“I stalked the authors for a year because I saw cinematic appeal to the book as soon as I read it,” Troutwine said. “It showed that conventional wisdom should always be tested and never trusted, and that is what documentaries are all about.”

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