George Clooney is set to produce and possibly direct a new film, and get this, it has a political slant. The story is based off of a Washington Post article called “The $700 Billion Man” about a Treasury Department official named Neel Kashkari, who was put in charge of coming up with a plan, over the course of a weekend, for the $700 billion dollars allocated to bail out the nation’s biggest banks. After a while, dealing with the stress of the job and the criticism of a congress that initially supported his actions became too much. He quit his job, moved out to the woods, and spent six months building a big shed. Clooney and Grant Heslov have optioned the story for the screen and assigned the task of writing a screenplay to Stranger than Fiction scribe Zach Helm.
Despite my jab at Clooney and his political leanings, the article reads like it could make an interesting movie. Of the famed $700 billion that went into the bailout, Kashkari says, “Seven hundred billion was a number out of the air. It was a political calculus. I said, ‘We don’t know how much is enough. We need as much as we can get [from Congress]. What about a trillion?’ ‘No way,’ Hank shook his head. I said, ‘Okay, what about 700 billion?’ We didn’t know if it would work. We had to project confidence, hold up the world. We couldn’t admit how scared we were, or how uncertain.” Oh, maybe I should have warned that you should never read this article or see this movie if you ever want to have any faith in the government again. On why he chose to become a mountain man and build a shed after leaving his job, Kashkari remarks in the original article, “I had to do something with my hands. It’s a big amorphous unknown — what’s going to happen to our economy. And the shed is solid, measurable. I can see it, I can touch it. It’s going to be around for the next 30 years. It’s the opposite of amorphous.” That sounds pretty deep. Clooney can build some visual metaphors around that. And hey, maybe if we butter him up enough we can convince him to star as well as produce and direct. I’ve always liked him in a beard.