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Mere months after signing with WME, David Rabinowitz and Charlie Wachtel, the writers/producers of Spike Lee’s Black Klansman have signed on to adapt Casey Sherman’s 2013 New York Times bestseller ANIMAL into a feature film. Sherman’s novel tells the true story of mob hitman Joe “The Animal” Barboza, woh turned government witness and became the first person put into the Federal Witness Program. The Tracking Board can confirm this.
The drama based on Sherman’s novel Animal: The Bloody Rise and Fall of the Mob’s Most Feared Assassin will deal with how U.S. Marshall John Partington was put in charge of protecting Barboza and his family when they were placed on a remote island in Boston Harbor to avoid the Mafia assassins trying to kill them. Before turning state’s witness, Barboza reportedly killed 26 men in the ’60s, but he turned around to help Partington’s campaign against organized crime by testifying against New England mob boss Raymond Patriarca. During his tenure as U.S. Attorney, Robert F. Kennedy assigned Partington that task.
Previous books by Sherman that have been adapted to film include The Finest Hours, which was turned into the Disney film starring Chris Pine and Casey Affleck, and Boston Strong, which was partially the basis for the Mark Wahlberg-Peter Berg 2016 drama Patriots Day. Sherman has also written an upcoming book about New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady called 12, which is also being adapted into a film.
This sounds like another intriguing project based on one of Sherman’s books, even though the Boston crime scene has been well-covered in films like The Departed and Black Mass. Animal seems to cover new ground, and it will be interesting to see which actors sign on to play Barboza and Partington
Represented by WME and Behr Abramson Levy, Rabinowitz and Wachtel have made a series of shorts, but Spike Lee’s Black Klansman, which is produced by Oscar nominee Jordan Peele, is their first feature-length screenplay to be produced. It stars Adam Driver as Ron Stallworth, a Colorado Springs detective who went up against the Ku Klux Klan and their infiltration of his city.
Deadline initially reported on this news.
Edward Douglas | East Coast Editor