EXCLUSIVE: Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8 has acquired White Boy Rick, a spec script by Logan and Noah Miller that is inspired by the story of Richard Wershe Jr. At the age of 14, Wershe became an undercover informant for local and federal law enforcement agencies in the mid-80s, and grew in that role enough to establish himself as a major drug dealer. He went from being an asset to an eyesore for law enforcement in the drug trafficking wars, and he was brought down in 1988–found with 17 pounds of coke at age 17–and sentenced to life without parole. The baby-faced felon has been in jail 27 years. The questions: how culpable was law enforcement in turning out a youngster who dropped out of ninth grade to provide intel to law enforcement, and why is he still serving time when the law he was convicted under is no longer on the books? This becomes the second major studio project on Wershe, as Universal Pictures, director Joseph Kosinski and Scott Stuber’s Bluegrass are developing a drama on the same subject.
For the scribes, the deal includes a blind script commitment. They wrote, directed and produced Touching Home and Sweetwater, the latter an Ed Harris-starrer that premiered at 2013 Sundance. they also wrote the bestselling memoir Either You’re In Or You’re In The Way and their latest book, Let The Good Prevail, will be published later this year.
The spec was brought into Studio 8 by Jon Silk, who’ll oversee. John Lesher is producing as is LBI Entertainment, where Lesher is now based and which has a first look deal with Studio 8. It’s the second significant buy in a week for Studio 8, which just landed the pitch The Shoe from the Still Alice writing and directing team of Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland. Studio 8 is separately partnered with Tom Rothman’s TriStar and Film4 on the Ang Lee-directed adaptation of the Ben Fountain novel Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, and an untitled epic medieval fantasy genre project from Robert Eggers, who helmed the Sundance pic The Witch. Funded by Chinese investment group Fosun Group and Sony Pictures Entertainment, Studio 8 will generate up to six films each year.
Thruline Entertainment’s Danny Sherman and Andrew Hurwitz at Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz repped the Millers.