'National Enquirer' Founders Movie in the Works From Arts District Entertainment

ONE TIME USE_Generoso Pope Sr. with Generoso Pope Jr. - Publicity - H 2019
Paul David Pope, The Pope Media Center/Courtesy of TransMedia Group

Veteran producer Roger Birnbaum and Arts District partner Eli Roth have optioned the 2010 book 'The Deeds of My Fathers' by Paul David Pope: "It's an epic story and everyone thinks they know what it's about but they don't."

Enquiring minds want to know what’s behind the renewed fascination with The National Enquirer. The supermarket tabloid has made a lot of news recently on everything from owner David Pecker’s dealings with President Donald Trump, Jeff Bezos’ private war to prevent the publication of X-rated images, and the recent documentary Scandalous: The Untold Story of the National Enquirer from director Mark Landsman.

Rambling Reporter has learned that there’s more where that came from.

Arts District Entertainment — the production company headed by Roger Birnbaum and Eli Roth with head of development Michael Besman — has optioned Paul David Pope’s 2010 book The Deeds of My Fathers: How My Grandfather and Father Built New York and Created the Tabloid World of Today, which chronicles the lives of his father and grandfather, Generoso “Gene” Pope Jr. and Sr., aka the founding fathers of the Enquirer

“It’s an epic story and everyone thinks they know what it’s about but they don’t,” says Paul David Pope, who adds that, at its root, the story is less about salacious gossip and more about the American dream. “My grandfather immigrated to New York City from Italy in 1905 and he spent his first night on a park bench. Then he started working in sandpits and took over Colonial Sand and Stone and, later, newspapers.”

Paul David Pope says the documentaries “missed the mark” and that his book is a real behind-the-scenes account of a father and son who “changed America and society as we know it” while mixing with mobsters, politicians and even the CIA. Their journey is also well-documented in a personal family archive that Paul David Pope has spent 30 years compiling. It's called the Pope Media Center and it includes 200,000 never-seen photos, audio clips, video interviews and writings that detail his entire family history as well as the many high-profile figures they came in contact with during their Enquirer days and beyond. 

As for who should play the Popes Jr. and Sr., Paul David Pope takes a beat and says it needs to be someone with talent and timeless looks like Leonardo DiCaprio or George Clooney. “There are some great actors, so the list would have to be sort of endless,” he explains. “The story spans a whole century so you need to find someone who can come in at a younger age and go to an older age.”

A version of this story first appeared in the Nov. 25 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.