Eric Warren Singer

David O. Russell and Bradley Cooper

In a nice bit of Friday confirmation clean-up, Atlas Entertainment and Annapurna Pictures have just circulated a press release that firms up a spat of casting buzz we’ve long been reporting on. The release confirms that David O. Russell‘s formerly-titled American Bullshit (which is currently looking for a perhaps more marketing-friendly title) will star Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, and Amy Adams, along with a somewhat unexpected Christian Bale. Russell is writing the film’s screenplay with scribe Eric Warren Singer, who first wrote his own original script for the project (a script that appeared on the 2012 Black List with the title American Bullshit). The press release also provides our first official synopsis of the film, which we’ve long known would revolve around the true story of an F.B.I.-launched sting attack aimed at rooting out corruption on Congress, one that was notably conceived of by “the world’s greatest con man.”

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Though he can reportedly be a bit of a handful to work with, whenever director David O. Russell manages to get along with everyone long enough to actually get a movie made, the results are usually pretty intriguing. And ever since his 2010 film, The Fighter, crossed over into the mainstream and became a financial success, he’s become a personality whose moves everyone is watching very closely. He currently has two films in post-production, a strange-sounding project about a waitress with a nail in her head who takes her cause to Washington D.C. called Nailed, and a movie about an ex-mental patient trying to make his life right called The Silver Linings Playbook. That’s a lot to have on your plate already, but it doesn’t look like he’s waiting for those films to hit theaters before he lines up his next job. THR is reporting that Russell has signed on to helm a script from the 2012 Black List called American Bullshit. Written by Eric Warren Singer, American Bullshit tells the true story of a sting operation that the F.B.I. put together to root out corruption in congress back in 1980. Internally called Abscam, the undercover operation was conceived for authorities by a man who is described as being “the world’s greatest con man.”

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In the late 1970s, the FBI went into business creating Abdul Enterprises. They weren’t selling Paula Abdul memorobilia (considering that she wouldn’t even be famous until a few years later); they were trying to see if members of Congress would attempt to bribe a (fake) foreign dignitary. Some did. The whole thing was coined the Abdul Scam (or Abscam for short), and shouted all over the nightly news. It resulted in several convictions. This is the tale that Ben Affleck might be looking to as his next directorial effort. The script for American Bullshit was written by The International writer Eric Warren Singer according to Deadline Williamsburg. They also note that Affleck has to choose between this, a story about New York Yankees wife-swapping in the 70s called The Trade, and a life-do-over movie about a middle-aged man who becomes 18 again called Replay. And, you know, the other half-dozen projects he’s thinking about doing. The FBI would make for the most interesting subject matter here, and it would be a nice lateral move away from the crime dramas of Boston.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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