EXCLUSIVE: Entertainment One has set Jon Turteltaub to direct Insane, a film based on “Crazy” Eddie Antar, the late consumer electronics king who wound up serving six years in prison for perpetrating one of the greatest securities frauds in history. eOne will finance the project. 21 scribe Peter Steinfeld wrote the script. The project was set by eOne late last year, with an exclusive rights deal has been made with Crazy Eddie’s cousin and co-conspirator Sam E. Antar. Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, Peter Steinfeld, DeShawn Schneider, Mandy Stein will produce with Sam E. Antar serving as an Associate Producer.
Turteltaub’s credits include most recently the sleeper hit The Meg, Last Vegas, National Treasure, Phenomenon, While You Were Sleeping and Cool Runnings.
Those of a certain age who grew up in the New York metropolitan area had the discount appliance/stereo/TV chain Crazy Eddie burned into their retinas in the ’70s by the endless in your face commercials featuring a frenzied pitchman (played by comedian Jerry Carroll) who promised the lowest prices that were “In-sa-a-a-a-ane.”
Antar opened his first store in Brooklyn, grew quickly to 43 stores, and then briefly became a Wall Street sensation when he took the company public. Those were fueled by groundbreaking ads delivered with used car salesman subtlety, and frenzied enough to obscure trouble in the back room. The trouble was, Antar had been skimming money and falsifying inventory to inflate stock value. United States Attorney Michael Chertoff, who prosecuted the case, would call Eddie Antar the “Darth Vader of capitalism.”
Losing control of his company in a hostile takeover, Antar went on the lam after the new owners uncovered his financial shenanigans and the SEC charged him with stock fraud. He fled to Israel — where he’d deposited millions of dollars — only to be extradited three years later. His brazen manner became his undoing: told in Switzerland that his account had been frozen, an outraged Antar went to the cops nearby, who soon figured out what was happening and put him in cuffs. Antar ultimately served a prison term that ended in 1999 and was ordered to pay $150 million in fines. Crazy Eddie was sold and the buyers were unable to recover from the fraud they would painfully uncover, and the whole thing went bankrupt.
Antar died in 2016. His cousin, Sam E. Antar, was CFO of Crazy Eddie and was complicit in its fraud. Much like Frank Abagnale Jr of Catch Me If You Can, Antar is now a forensic accountant who helps uncover fraud scams like the one he was part of back in the ’80s. He is associate producer of Insane. The movie will tell the story from his vantage point, a young cousin with an accounting degree brought into a family business and who cooked the books to hide the skimming that was going on. All this was uncovered after Eddie Antar cashed in his shares for $74 million and then left the country. Sam E. Antar has been outspoken about his misdeeds — lying under oath to protect family members before finally cooperating with prosecutors — so this take on the movie could be interesting.
Turteltaub is represented by WME, Oasis Media Group and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller.