EXCLUSIVE: Levantine Films has optioned Jerry and Marge Go Large, an article by Jason Fagone for Huffington Post’s Highline. Brad Copeland will write the script. Gil Netter will produce alongside Levantine.
Fagone’s article focuses on Jerry and Marge, a couple married for over 60 years who found a nifty way to finance retirement. A mildly dyslexic cereal company materials analyst with a penchant for puzzles and patterns named Gerald Selbee figured out a loophole in the Michigan Cash WinFall state lottery game. Essentially, when the jackpot reaches roughly $2 million and no one wins, payoffs for smaller prizes swell dramatically, which basically assures a profit for anyone who buys at least $100,000 worth of tickets. He used it to enrich family and friends. After Michigan did away with the WinFall, Jerry turned his attention to one in Massachusetts.
Along the way, he bumped up against a group of MIT students who discovered the same loophole, which might be compared to counting cards at the blackjack table. Soon, all of them were being pursued by a Boston Globe Spotlight reporter who exposed the whole thing. All in all, Jerry and Marge earned $27 million in gross return for their family in friends by playing the lottery over nine years in two states.
Copeland’s script work includes Fox’s Ferdinand, Warner Bros’ Yogi Bear and Wild Hogs, and series including Life in Pieces and Arrested Development.
Levantine, teamed with Ingenious Media, started production on the Gurinder Chadha-directed Blinded by the Light, which will be shopped at Cannes, with eOne landing UK and Australia rights and Cornerstone Films handling other international territories. Netter produced Life of Pi, The Blind Side and Marley & Me.
ICM Partners brokered the article deal and life rights of Jerry and Marge Selbee. Fagone is co-represented by Larry Weissman Literary. Copeland is represented by UTA.