UPDATE: Twentieth Century Fox execs on Wednesday clarified a few of my details about Wall Street 2. Javier Bardem is not onboard yet, but “he is who we want” to play the stock-shorting hedge fund manager set up in the story as the villain. Oliver Stone hasn’t met with him yet, and the studio hasn’t negotiated his deal yet. The start date is now at the end of August, not August 10th. And, as of right now, there is no release date although my sources said February 2010 is contemplated. Otherwise, spot on.
EXCLUSIVE: I’m told that screenwriter Allan Loeb (21, Things We Lost In The Fire) will hand in his second draft of the long-awaited Wall Street 2 to 20th Century Fox later this week. (Although the great Stanley Weiser and his film school pal Oliver Stone were credited as writers of the original pic, Stephen Schiff was first to script the sequel.) I heard Loeb’s first draft was “so great” that Stone didn’t feel the need to touch it — yet. But no one expects the director to keep hands off on the second draft since principal photography starts on August 10th. The film’s release is now planned for February 2010. So here’s the oh-so-secret plot of Wall Street 2 and who’s playing what:
Michael Douglas, as everyone already knows, reprises his Best Actor Oscar-winning role as Gordon Gekko. But what hasn’t been reported is that, as the movie begins, it’s 21 years later and Mr. Greed Is Good has finished serving his prison sentence. He finds himself on the fringe of the financial community. (“Kinda like Jim Cramer or Mike Milken after their disgrace,” an insider with the pic tells me.) Gekko is cautioning Wall Street that the “end is coming” — but nobody is listening. So Gordon is obsessed with trying to repair his ruptured relationship with his daughter. That juicy actress role isn’t cast yet. (But I’d love it if Oliver had the balls to bring back Sean Young as Mom in spite of their notorious falling out during the filming of the original.)
Enter Shia LaBeouf, who was reported in negotiations and I can now state is set to co-star. (I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: one day every Hollywood movie will star this guy who turns 23 on June 11th.) Shia is a young Wall Street trader who’s engaged to be married to Gekko’s estranged daughter. Shia wants to be a major player, but his mentor unexpectedly kills himself, and Shia thinks a stock-shorting worldwide hedge fund manager is responsible. Shia seeks revenge on this villain, to be played by No Country For Old Men Supporting Actor Oscar-winner Javier Bardem. So Shia goes to Gordon saying, “I need your help”, and makes a Faustian deal with Gekko who in return wants Shia’s help getting back with the daughter. From then on, it’s “antagonism” for everyone, my insider says.
I’m told Wall Street 2‘s story spans from June 2008 through the federal bailout. “We wanted to see some perspective in the same way that the original dealt with insider trading,” a source explains to me. Meanwhile, a long list of Wall Street types are offering their help to make sure the script is accurate. Same thing happened with the original. Jeff “Mad Dog” Beck, then a star investment banker at ill-fated Drexel Burnham Lambert before he was exposed as a fraud, was one of the film’s technical advisers and even had a cameo appearance. But Kenneth Lipper, investment banker and former deputy mayor of New York for Finance and Economic Development, did the real heavy lifting: he was hired as chief technical adviser and ensured the film was realistic. Weiser and Stone consulted dozens of Wall Street names for the film.
Finally, an interesting aside: someone associated with the sequel reminded me that Barry Diller, the mogul in charge of 20th Century Fox when Wall Street came out, “hated it” and thought his big award-winning film that year would be Broadcast News, which came to the Oscars with 7 nominations but left empty handed. Whereas Wall Street won a major category. Now comes the sequel, and the news biz is still struggling, but so is the stock market.