“Crazy Eddie, his prices are IN-SA-A-A-A-A-ANE!” If you grew up on the East Coast in the ‘70s and ‘80s that phrase may stir nostalgic musings — or distress at the memory of a hysterical pitchman wearing a Santa hat in August. Well, Danny DeVito is bringing back the crazy.
DeVito will direct and produce Crazy Eddie, a film based on the consumer electronics king Eddie Antar, whose retail outlets used that slogan as their calling card on ubiquitous TV and radio ads. Antar launched the Crazy Eddie chain in 1971 but later served six years in prison for fraud.
Peter Steinfeld is writing the script, says Variety.
DeVito and Steinfeld have secured Antar’s life rights and will produce the film with Isaac Chera and Elliott Azrak. Chera and Azrak are supplying the development capital and grew up around the corner from the first store Antar and his family opened in Brooklyn, notes the trade.
Antar’s discount consumer electronics chain eventually grew to 43 stores, fueled by TV ads in which a frenzied pitchman – who many mistakenly believed to be Eddie himself – promised prices that were “In-sa-a-a-a-a-ane!”
When Antar took the company public, he briefly became a Wall Street sensation. However, it was found that he had been skimming money and falsifying inventory to inflate stock value. After losing control of the company in a hostile takeover, Antar went on the lam when the new owners uncovered his financial inconsistencies and the SEC charged him with stock fraud.
He fled to Israel but was extradited three years later and ultimately served a prison term that ended in 1999. DeVito told Variety the film will be an honest look at a story that has parallels to some of the activities that led to the current crisis on Wall Street.
“He started as a guy who loved making deals more than money,” DeVito said.