EXCLUSIVE: BlacKkKlansman scribes Charlie Wachtel and David Rabinowitz have set their next film. Fox 2000 has acquired the true-crime pitch Thacher Island. The duo are set to write, and Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter are producing. The story is based on Casey Sherman’s 2013 bestseller Animal: The Bloody Rise and Fall of the Mob’s Most Feared Assassin, about the exploits of the notorious Boston mob enforcer Joe “The Animal” Barboza. Sherman previously authored The Finest Hours, which was adapted into the film directed by Craig Gillespie.
Although he was of Portuguese descent, Barboza got the idea he might be accepted into La Cosa Nostra if he killed enough men and took on the most diabolical hits. Barboza’s brutal rise came during one of the deadliest mob wars in U.S., and he took particular joy in the most gruesome crimes — to the point that the mob betrayed him and set him on the run. Barboza had one more trick up his sleeve: Long before Whitey Bulger used his informant status to eliminate rivals as he built his criminal empire, Barboza forged a Faustian bargain with a couple of dubious FBI agents. From providing false testimony and manipulating evidence that sent mob leaders to death row to the formation of the Witness Protection Program so the feds could protect their prized, cold-blooded witness, Barboza changed the criminal justice system and its handling with members of organized crime. Even as the system put the law at risk of being more unscrupulous than the criminals being prosecuted.
The Spike Lee-directed BlacKkKlansman was named the Cannes 2018 Grand Prix winner and it will be released August 10 by Focus Features. Berlanti, who signed a huge deal with WBTV after getting 14 series on the air, most recently directed Love Simon, the film that starred Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel. Berlanti Productions’ director of development Mike McGrath brought in the project.
Wachtel and Rabinowitz are repped by WME and Behr Abramson Levy. Sherman is the Gotham Group and Berlanti and Schechter are represented by WME and attorney Patti Felker.