So what exactly is Idol’s Eye about? Slash Film and Reel Chicago give a bit more insight into the story…….
Hubris was a script by Bobby Moresco that Todd Field was going to direct back in 2011. It was based on a 2007 Playboy article called Boosting the Big Tuna, written by reporter Hillel Levin. The story was based on the murders of a crew of guys who robbed the house of Chicago mafia boss Tony Accardo’s (AKA “Big Tuna”) in 1978. After the break-in, several guys suspected of the crime were murdered with, well, let’s say extreme prejudice. Some were tortured. There’s a lot more to the story than that; it’s a hell of a gangland saga, with violence and a big multi-layered investigation. (It’s also the same material that Michael Mann was toying with shooting as Big Tuna a few years ago.)
So where does the name Idol’s Eye come from? The Idol’s Eye is a big diamond — a big famous diamond, in fact. In the ’70s it was owned by a Chicago jeweler. It was never stolen, and was not part of the Big Tuna robbery. But there’s a connection. The owner of the diamond was Harry Levinson, a mob-connected guy. And in 1977 a thief named John Mendell targeted Levinson for his diamond, and planned a huge heist of the rock that was only partially successful. John Mendell is one of the guys who broke into Big Tuna’s place a year later.
So what story is Assayas telling? De Niro is going to play Accardo, and Pattinson will be Mendell. But the title suggests this could be more about the attempt to steal the Idol’s Eye than the Accardo robbery. Both are big, great stories, with potential for some excellent cinematic flavor.
“Idol’s Eye” is said to start principal photography here in October, for a budget that falls in the mid-$20 million range. It also shoots in Toronto.
The film also marks the fifth time DeNiro has worked in Chicago, but not since 1993 when he starred in director John McNaughton’s “Mad Dog and Glory.” His earlier movies here were “Backdraf,” in 1991, “Midnight Run,” in 1988 and “The Untouchables,” playing Al Capone, in 1987.
Olivier Assayas (“Carlos the Jackal”) is the writer/director of “Idol’s Eye,” which is based on investigative reporter Hillel Levin’s 2007 Playboy article, “Boosting the Big Tuna.” This is the French director’s first film to be shot in America.
He has been in Chicago on location scouts twice so far this year.
DeNiro will portray Accardo, who ruled Chicago’s mob for five decades and Pattinson has the role of burglar John Mendell, who ran a respectable machine shop in Lincolnwood but actually was the ringleader of a gang of thieves.
According Hillel’s article, Mendell and his crew robbed Accardo’s home of a 70 carat diamond, the Idol’s Eye, in January, 1978, when the family had left Chicago to spend the winter in Florida. A month later Mendell was murdered mob style, and his body found in the trunk of a car.
Details of Mendell’s grisly murder came to light three decades later during the federal Family Secrets trial of an elite team of hit men who committed 18 murders, including Mendell’s.
Assayas originally had a screenplay about the infamous theft, but ultimately opted to write his own story. Seeking an authentic guide to Chicago, a culture and city foreign to him, he began exchanging emails with Levin and brought him on board as advisor and researcher.
The third actor named in the cast so far is Rachel Weisz, but her role hasn’t been announced.
“Idol’s Eye” is being produced by Michael Benaroya’s Benaroya Pictures, with Ben Sachs executive producing. Release date will be sometime next year.