EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures has gotten its computer systems back online, with emails and everything else up and running again. And the studio is putting the finishing touches on a splashy deal to creative a narrative feature out of The Seven Five, the Tiller Russell-directed and Eli Holzman produced documentary about one of the most corrupt police forces in 1980s New York. It’s the cop version of Goodfellas, an opportunity to tell the kind of stories that Sidney Lumet did so well about urban corruption. This was a competitive auction, and ICM Partners repped the docu in the deal.
The tale focuses on Michael Dowd, whose headline-grabbing 1992 arrest for leading a ring of criminalized cops exposed widespread corruption in the NYPD and sent him to prison for 14 years.
Dowd began squeezing dealers for cash while working out of the 75th Precinct in crime-ridden East New York, eventually recruiting partner Kenny Eurell and others into an expanding ring of dirty cops active from 1986 through 1992. Their flashy transgressions were so flagrant that then-Mayor David Dinkins appointed the Mollen Commission to investigate, uncovering a history of “brutality, theft, abuse of authority and active police criminality” that had been willfully ignored by Internal Affairs.
The crimes perpetrated by Dowd and his uniformed gang included a scheme in which they pooled their extorted cash to buy cocaine for resale on Long Island. Eurell’s testimony to authorities helped nail a five-month-long undercover investigation that unveiled a multi-level drug operation involving NYC police officers, drug dealers, and Colombian suppliers. Holzman produced the docu with Stephen Lambert, Eli Holzman and Aaron Saidman from All3Media America, along with Sheldon Yellen.
It was production president Michael De Luca who brought in this one. Luckily, he has a cell phone. Just as important, the IT department of Sony did what it had to do to bolster security after a cyber terrorist breached its systems on the morning of November 24. Despite the reports of woe — one headline explaining that Sony turned to the FBI (“duh”) and another that warned of more ominous threats seem like piling on — but the studio is taking care of business. Former Paramount marketing chief Josh Greenstein today started as Sony head of worldwide marketing and distribution, and this deal certainly helps erase any notion that Sony is frozen in place. ICM Partners represents All3Media America, and negotiated the deal and is also selling the documentary distribution rights. Paradigm reps Russell.