EXCLUSIVE: Oscar-winning The Big Short director/co-writer Adam McKay has become executive producer on Crook County, a Black List script by Aron Gaudet & Gita Pullapilly that they will direct, based on the true story of the biggest undercover corruption bust in American history. Treehouse Pictures will fully finance. McKay’s antennae is clearly up on the collision of politics, commerce and corruption. He is directing the film about Dick Cheney, who became the most powerful Veep in history, and Bad Blood, with Jennifer Lawrence to play Elizabeth Holmes, whose blood testing Silicon Valley company Theranos became ridiculously overvalued, only to plummet just as quickly when the technology proved unreliable. McKay also directed the Gary Sanchez-produced HBO pilot Succession about a fictional global media family dealing with succession, politics and the 21st century challenges on media companies.
Brooklyn‘s Emory Cohen will play the protagonist, Terrence Hake, a young lawyer who risked his life to go undercover for the FBI in Chicago, in a sting operation that resulted in an unprecedented arrest of over 100 government officials. They brought down 17 judges, 48 lawyers, 8 policemen, 10 deputy sheriffs, 8 court officials, and one state legislator. At one point, the FBI also flew in more than 400 undercover agents to train in a Hollywood-style prop-and-costume warehouse, to really commit crimes, to really get arrested, and to hire Mr. Hake to bribe government officials to get them off. This high-stakes political thriller is rife with the comedic absurdity of characters drawn into back-of-bar-room deals and shake-downs. Production will begin in the spring, in Pittsburgh.
Treehouse Pictures Justin Nappi and Juliet Berman will produce with Linda McDonough and Kevin Messick. McKay exec produces with his Gary Sanchez partner Will Ferrell and Valerie Van Galder. Emory can currently be seen in the Netflix series The OA, and opposite Brad Pitt and Topher Grace in Netflix’s War Machine, based on Michael Hastings’ book, The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan. Gaudet & Pullapilly previously wrote and directed the Toronto pic Beneath the Harvest Sky, and the documentary The Way We Get By. In 2016 they were named Guggenheim Fellows for their work on Crook County.
Said McKay: “Aron and Gita are two of the most passionate and committed filmmakers I have ever met. They’ve written a script about systemic corruption and justice that will be very relevant to the times we’re living in.” Said Nappi: “As soon as I read the script, I knew that Crook County needed to be made, not only to shine a light on issues that can plague our criminal justice system, but also to show how one individual’s actions can be instrumental in changing the entire system for the better. Given Adam’s track record with this sort of material, I can’t think of anyone better suited to help shepherd this project.” CAA and Anonymous rep the writer/directors. CAA arranged the financing and will broker the domestic deal.