The producer and “Twilight Saga” star closed a deal to finance the movie the day before the fugitive gangster was arrested after 16 years on the run
Peter Facinelli and his producing partner, Robert DeFranco, may have some of the luckiest timing in Hollywood.
They had just closed a deal with Brookstreet Pictures to adapt "Street Soldier: My Life as an Enforcer For Whitey Bulger and the Boston Irish Mob," when the fugitive mobster — on the run for 16 years — was captured by the FBI.
"Tuesday we finalized all the points, and then Whitey was arrested," DeFranco told TheWrap Tuesday.
Facinelli (right) — the "Twilight Saga" actor — added, "We'd like to get it going as quickly as possible. We have a script and everything ready."
He said that James "Whitey" Bulger's arrest in Santa Monica June 22 made the country aware of the notorious mobster — and gave the story an ending.
Before the arrest, there were all kinds of rumors about Bulger, DeFranco said.
"A lot of the talk … was, 'Did the FBI kill him?' Are they even looking for him?"
DeFranco has long wanted to make the movie. He grew up Massachusetts, and worked as a roofer in South Boston — Bulger's "Southie" — in the early 1990s.
He knew who Bulger was and read every book about the Winter Hill Gang leader he could get his hands on. Of all of them, he most liked "Street Soldier," Edward MacKenzie's book. Eddie Mac was a kickboxing champion, a drug dealer and an enforcer for Bulger.
DeFranco brought the book to Facinelli; they acquired rights to the book about nine months ago, and then were approached by Brookstreet's CEO, Trevor Matthews.
"We were in the process of developing it and they came to us," he said.
Matthews and Alison Haskovec are producing along with Facinelli and DeFranco.
Facinelli, meanwhile, is extremely busy. In the year since he and DeFranco opened Facinelli Films, their company has made "Loosies," starring Facinelli, Michael Madsen and Jaimie Alexander. Facinelli wrote the script.
They're also coproducing a reality series with Benjamin Silverman and his Electus, and another with Tom Forman and Relatively Real. They've acquired a script called "Cowboy Mafia" based on a true story and are adapting it for a television series. They've signed a digital content deal with Fantapper and they're co-producing web shorts with collegehumor.com.
"That kind of goes to our philosophy of the business," DeFranco said. "It's velocity."