When Michael Rapaport signed on to play shoe mogul Steve Madden in a TV project based on Madden’s life, the pair soon realized they had a lot in common — and began trading ideas on how to actually get into business together. That has led to the formation of 212Works, a new production company that Rapaport and Madden have launched to develop film, TV and digital projects.
“We met and hit it off,” Rapaport says. “I have a lot of respect for what he accomplished in business. But getting to know him, I think we’re on the same page about creating content. And I find him very inspiring.”
Madden returns the compliment, noting that he’s been a fan of Rapaport going back to films like “Zebrahead” and “True Romance.” “Turn on the TV and he’s in every movie,” Madden says. “And he has a second life as a basketball fanatic extraordinaire. He’s got this whole other thing going with his rants.”
It was Rapaport’s social media and podcast “I Am Rapaport” that convinced Madden that the actor would be perfect to play him in the series, which will use Madden’s autobiography “The Cobbler: How I Disrupted an Industry, Fell From Grace & Came Back Stronger Than Ever” as source material.
“What’s interesting Michael’s family is from my hometown, his mom, grandma. So we kind of knew each other,” Madden says. “We’ve been jamming, hanging out and talking through a lot of ideas Outside of the fact that he is much taller than me and much better looking than me, he’s actually getting who I am. … Michael is a director, an actor, a comedian, and I’m a pretty good businessman and a shoe guy. And I’m hoping that we can bring those skills together by trusting Michael to be able to pick really hot properties and talent. I’m able to support that, through my ability to create very hot shoes.”
Rapaport says he’s still on the hunt for a showrunner for “The Cobbler” project. “Finding a writer is a tough thing,” he says. “Writers are the most valuable asset in show business, because there’s no way to cheat it.”
Naming their company 212Works, is a nod to their shared identity as New Yorkers, Rapaport says. “212 is classic; it’s iconic,” he says. “You can’t get that area code anymore. So we wanted to do something vintage. But the bells and whistles mean nothing — we plan on delivering great content.”
As for what he’s looking for specifically, Rapaport says he wants “to find the next great directors, the next great writers. We want to find the people that are going to leave a print, and leave a mark on entertainment. And that people will be looking to talk about in the next 10 or 12 years. And, as far as taste wise, I think we have very similar tastes. We don’t want to box ourselves into any sort of thing. We really like drama, we like we like comedy and we like things that relate on an emotional level.”
Madden is the founder of Steve Madden, the shoe and designer company that Madden says he founded in 1990 with just $1100. Later he was convicted of securities fraud and other charges, and spent time in prison before being released in 2005. As founder and design chief, Steve Madden continues with the company, which reported revenues of $1.8 billion in 2019.
Rapaport just finished shooting Amy Schumer’s “Life & Beth” for Hulu. His other recent credits include “Atypical,” “White Famous,” “Sully” and a memorable voiceover part as Homer’s overeager 35-year-old intern, Mike Wegman.