A few weeks back, I bemoaned the lack of Crazy Heart writer and director Scott Cooper in recent cinema. Despite being attached to a number of projects, nothing had yet panned out, so the news that he was signing on for an equally-as-languishing project, the adaptation of Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children was music to my ears. Such news must have given Cooper and his team a kick in the pants, as the helmer is now set for another new project. Fox Searchlight has signed Cooper to helm (and possibly adapt from the source material) a film based on Mark Seal’s book The Man in the Rockefeller Suit.

Seal’s book chronicles the bizarre and criminal life of Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, a German man who moved to the United States as a teen, and then slowly began to pass himself off as a part of the Rockefeller family. For whatever reason, Gerhartsreiter’s insane ruse worked, and he spent a number of years as “Clark Rockefeller.” As a Fake-efeller, Gerhartsreiter got work on Wall Street, palled around in chi-chi social circles, got married to an apparently smart businesswoman, and had a kid. He also apparently killed two people in California in his younger years. Oh, and he also went totally nuts when his wife finally caught on to his lies and sought a divorce, kidnapping their young daughter for a period that was less than a week, but that still involved his dragging a social work by SUV and also a weird subplot with a catamaran. There is a lot of material here.

Cooper will surely direct the adaptation, but his writing involvement apparently hinges on the casting process of The Emperor’s Children, which is poised to be his next film to go before cameras.

The Gerhartsreiter story has already gotten the cinematic treatment, thanks to a 2010 Lifetime movie, simply called Who Is Clark Rockefeller? Well, for one thing, he’s not a Rockefeller, so there’s that. Eric McCormack starred as Gerhartsreiter, with Sherry Stringfield as his oblivious wife, Sandra Boss. That TV movie was just plain not good, so it will be interesting to see this very compelling (and pretty damn wacky) material in the hands of a director who can potentially lift it out of tabloid-on-television levels. [Deadline Sheboygan]

 


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