Director to tackle FBI informant Whitey Bulger

After tackling rough Irish-themed true-life subjects in “In the Name of the Father” and “The Boxer,” Jim Sheridan is turning his attention to notorious Boston mobster and FBI informant Whitey Bulger.

Sheridan will direct a script he and partner Nye Heron are penning based on “Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob,” a book written by Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe reporters Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill.

The film will be produced by CP Prods. partners Michael Cerenzie and Christine Peters and Brian Oliver of Arthaus Pictures. Financing comes through a blend of equity and debt raised through CPM Global, an enterprise run by Cerenzie, Peters and David Matsumoto. They hope to begin production later this year.

Bulger rose to prominence in Boston as a feared enforcer and built the Winter Hill Gang into an enterprise that did everything from selling drugs to procuring guns for the Irish Republican Army. His rise was helped by John Connolly, a childhood pal who became an FBI agent. Bulger disappeared 14 years ago, creating a major law enforcement scandal.

“This is a story of a corrupt system and about how an angry guy became the second most wanted man after Bin Laden,” Sheridan told Daily Variety. “Black Mass” was first optioned by Miramax for Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. After it languished at Miramax, Oliver optioned it in 2006 but then had to sit on it when the Oscar-winning “The Departed” become a definitive Boston Irish mob film.

“Departed” producer Graham King is also delving into Bulger territory, having optioned the life story of John Martorano, a former enforcer for Bulger’s gang who killed 20 people and then turned government informant when he learned his bosses were informants (Daily Variety, Dec. 15).

Brett Granstaff will be exec producer of the “Black Mass” pic with CP Prods. prexy Graham Kaye and Chuck Rock. Mark Mallouk is co-executive producer.

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