Peter Steinfeld (“21”) is penning the script, about the man who launched the successful Crazy Eddie chain in 1971 but wound up serving six years in prison for fraud.
DeVito and Steinfeld have secured Antar’s life rights and will produce the film with Isaac Chera and Elliott Azrak, two businessmen who are supplying the development capital. Chera and Azrak grew up around the corner from the first store Antar and his family opened in Brooklyn.
Antar was a pioneer in discount consumer electronics, and Crazy Eddie’s grew to 43 stores, fueled by TV ads in which a frenzied pitchman promised prices that were “In-sa-a-a-a-a-ane!” Antar took the company public and briefly became a Wall Street sensation.
He’d been skimming money and falsifying inventory to inflate stock value. Losing control of his company in a hostile takeover, Antar went on the lam after the new owners uncovered his financial shenanigans and the SEC charged him with stock fraud. He fled to Israel — where he’d deposited millions of dollars — only to be extradited three years later. He ultimately served a prison term that ended in 1999 and was ordered to pay $150 million in fines.
DeVito, who has either directed or produced biopics on checkered figures such as Jimmy Hoffa and Andy Kaufman, said Antar and his associates will cooperate, and he promises that the film will be an honest look at a story that has parallels to some of the activities that led to the current crisis on Wall Street.
“He started as a guy who loved making deals more than money,” DeVito said.
“He lived an outrageously spectacular life and suffered an outrageously spectacular fall,” Steinfeld said.
Steinfeld, who developed a relationship with DeVito when he scripted “Be Cool” and “Drowning Mona,” just penned a remake of “Slap Shot” that will be directed by Dean Parisot at Warner Bros. DeVito just completed the Mark Steven Johnson-directed “When in Rome,” and he will return for a fifth season of the FX series “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”