IDOL’S EYE: Robert Pattinson plays John Mendell; mid-$20 million budget; Films in Chicago and Toronto

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The latest news with Idol’s Eye has been great! Robert De Niro has come on board as the Big Tuna and Rachel Weisz is rumored to join Robert and Robert as well. Idol’s Eye is based on the 2007 article, Boosting the Big Tuna, by Hillel Levin and he shared some thoughts on the characters Pattinson and De Niro will be playing:

Big news for this project out of Cannes, where director Olivier Assayas released his latest film, Clouds of Sils Maria. He will next work on Idol’s Eye, a movie based on my April 2007 article for Playboy called, “Boosting the Big Tuna.” The story is about burglars who break into the home of Chicago’s longtime Godfather, Tony Accardo. Robert Pattinson will play the burglar ringleader, who is based on John Mendell–a freelance “juice man” or “wire man” capable of overcoming the most sophisticated burglar alarms, but also the proprietor of a machine shop who was desperate to go “legit.” De Niro will play Accardo, who ruled Chicago’s mob for five decades. Despite the fact that he’s hardly a household name, I would argue that Accardo was America’s most important organized crime figure in the twentieth century. He not only influenced politics in the Windy City, but also corrupted wide swaths of the union movement (e.g. Teamsters and Laborers), and probably did more to build the Las Vegas Strip (mostly with Teamster pension funds) than anyone else. He features prominently in my play, “Assassination Theater.” By the time of the burglary, he had become practically an establishment figure in Chicago–unusually accessible to the neighbors in his wealthy suburb, courtly to the power elite, with whom he occasionally rubbed shoulders, but still bone-chillingly ruthless with anyone who crossed his path in the criminal world–as Mendell eventually found out. It will be fascinating to see De Niro’s approach to the part. One funny note: the dispute between Accardo and Mendell centers on the burglary of a high-end pawn shop. Somehow, in the mix of accents at Cannes, “pawn” got turned into “porn.” I hope the reality here does not disappoint.

This story sounds fantastic. If you’re interested in reading the original article that was published in Playboy, you can order a 1-month subscription HERE to access Boosting the Big Tuna.

The Chicago Tribune caught up with Olivier Assayas last week in Cannes and talked to him about Idol’s Eye. He shared that the earlier version of the script wasn’t for him and he went about exploring the story to write the script himself.

Excerpt from Chicago Tribune:

Assayas began exchanging emails with investigative reporter Levin. “I thought: Maybe I could get into the story somehow if I had someone in Chicago to help me with it,” the director said. “It’s not my culture; it’s not my city; I needed a guide, someone who could vouch for the truth of what I was writing about.” With Levin on board as advisor and researcher, Assayas began gathering a formidable load of background material.

“It’s how I did the work on ‘Carlos,'” he said. “We did extensive research on every single aspect of the story. And then I started writing.”

The budget for “Idol’s Eye” falls in the mid-$20 million range, Assayas said. He’s already visited Chicago twice for location scouting. He’ll also be filming in Toronto. And we should see the results sometime in 2015.

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