EXCLUSIVE: Bad Boys and Midnight Run scribe George Gallo has teamed with his Middle Men collaborator Andy Weiss to pen The Bummy Davis Story, an independent feature which New York City real estate developer Peter Fine will produce and finance. Fine came to the project after reading Ron Ross’ novel about the legendary boxer, Bummy Davis Vs. Murder Inc.: The Rise and Fall of the Jewish Mafia and an Ill-Fated Prizefighter.
Bummy Davis marks the second feature that Gallo and Weiss have worked on together after 2009’s Middle Men which starred Luke Wilson and Giovanni Ribisi as porn website pioneers. Gallo directed that title and Weiss also served as co-executive producer. Paramount acquired Middle Men out of the Santa Barbara Film Festival.
Describing the project which is set in the Brooklyn neighbordhood during the 1930s-40s, Gallo says, “Brownsville was a center for Jewish immigrants. During Bummy’s time there was fight for the soul of Brownsville. It was a Murder, Inc. neighborhood run by Meyer Lanksy and Abe Reles and it could be a dark, evil place or one of hope. Along comes Bummy Davis who epitomizes good and goes into the ring and fights. Brownsville begins to have hope as Bummy starts winning fights. The collapse of Murder,Inc. was because of Bummy: He became less intimated by the mob guys and provided an alternative way out for Brownsville.”
Added Weiss, “Bummy Davis was more than just another Jewish prize fighter of the early 20th century. He was fiercely loyal and embodied Brownsville and because of this he was profoundly misunderstood.”
Davis was killed on November 21, 1945 when he battled four armed robbers at his haunt Dudy’s Bar in Brownsville, a bar he previously owned. Davis knocked one of the robbers down, and was then shot three times. Wounded, he pursued the three robbers, but a fourth bullet took the pugilist down.
“When I picked up the book, I was reading about the people and the streets I heard about during my childhood. It was my folklore growing up. It’s the story of my family,” said Fine about why he acquired the film rights to Ross’ book.
“Beecher’s Gym where Bummy Davis trained was legendary in my childhood. It was a place where the great Jewish lightweights came out of and it was also a pool hall. My father played pool and trained as a teenager there. All the greats passed through Beecher’s. This isn’t a story about a superstar guy, it’s also about my family,” added Fine.
Fine isn’t a stranger to the producing world. He helped finance the Broadway musical In the Heights, for which he also won a Tony award. Producing the movie with Fine is Scott Pardo. Gallo is repped by ICM Partners, Industry Entertainment and Gang Tyre. Weiss’ previous writing credits include Ashton Kutcher’s Punk’d as well as Spike TV’s Scrappers which he co-created with his brother Michael Weiss. Weiss is also repped by ICM and Luber Roklin Entertainment.