The Abscam movie – who would you like to see in it?

    How did I miss this?

    Bradley Cooper, David O. Russell and Mark Wahlberg are planning a movie about the incredible Abscam corruption sting that blew through Philadelphia 30 years ago and took down three City Council members (including the president), a couple of congressman, and others.

     

    If you’re too young to remember Abscam, you missed a delicious scandal. FBI agents and a con man they recruited posed as agents for fictitious Arab sheiks who wanted to do business in the area and had ready cash for politicians willing to help with zoning and such.

    They set up in the Barclay Hotel on Rittenhouse square and videotaped the sometimes drunken ramblings of elected officials who took the bait. When the case went to trial the tapes became public and WHYY played them on Channel 12 in the evening – hours of fun.

    The highlight was watching a pretty pickled U.S. Rep. Michael “Ozzie” Myers, deep into the conversation telling his hosts, “look, in this business, money talks and bull s**t walks.”

     The whole thing had a powerful effect on City Council. It was a time when an independent black political movement was gaining steam, and when the indictments were issued, a young Councilman named John F. Street readily took the floor to taunt President George X. Schwartz and members Louis Johanson and Harry Jannotti.

    “Schwartz, you took the cash!!! Jannotti, you took the cash!” Street would shout.

    Those were the days.

    A story today in the online news service Capitolwire says Cooper and Russell asked state officials in Harrisburg for $4.5 million in tax credits to make the film, but that Corbett wouldn’t even meet with them. They were offered a more modest break, Capitolwire reports, but they’ve decided to move production to Massachusetts.

    A listing in the online Internet Movie Data Base says others in the so-far unnamed project include Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and comedian Louis C.K.

    I’d like to see a John Street character in the picture too….maybe Morgan Freeman?

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.