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Universal has optioned true-crime story The Trials of White Boy Rick with Oblivion director Joseph Kosinski attached to direct.
Journalist Evan Hughes wrote the article, which centers on Rick Wershe, a teen living in Detroit in the 1980s. He joined the ranks of the drug kingpins on the predominantly black East Side to become a prolific cocaine trafficker, going by the name “White Boy Rick.”
Hughes’ story uncovers the true identity of Wershe, who worked as an undercover informant for the FBI and DEA while simultaneously rising to become one of the biggest drug dealers in the city.
The story was first published by The Atavist, a publisher of original digital nonfiction, on Sept. 29. The site was founded by Evan Ratliff and Jefferson Rabb.
Scott Stuber and Dylan Clark will produce under their Universal-based Bluegrass Films banner.
Senior vp of production Erik Baiers and director of development Sara Scott will oversee the project for Universal while Michael Clear will oversee production on behalf of Bluegrass. Atavist’s Ratliff will executive produce.
Hughes wrote the 2011 book Literary Brooklyn, and has written for The New Republic, New York and The New York Times, among others.
White Boy Rick will be an interesting step in a new direction for Kosinski, who is known for his sci-fi films Tron: Legacy and Tom Cruise-starrer Oblivion.
The two movies grossed $686 million worldwide and Kosinski has been attached to several other sci-fi projects in the past few years, including a Tron sequel and a big-screen version of The Twilight Zone. He’s repped by CAA and Hirsch Wallerstein.
The Atavist is repped by CAA, Circle of Confusion and Jackoway, Tyerman.
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