Last week’s arrest of Boston crime boss Whitey Bulger finally provided a proper ending to a high-profile mob mystery that had dragged on for more than 15 years, which can mean only one thing: It’s time to make it into a movie. Of course, someone arguably already did that, that someone was Martin Scorsese with the Best Picture-winning The Departed, and that’s not exactly a competition other directors should be vying to enter. But of course, The Departed was only “inspired by” Bulger’s story, technically leaving the door open for just about anyone to come and tell it straight—even Twilight and Nurse Jackie star Peter Facinelli, who is now said to be producing an adaptation of a book written by former Bulger enforcer Edward “Eddie Mac” MacKenzie. Even better for him, Deadline reports that Facinelli was actually ahead of the game on his Bulger film idea, getting involved with the production nine months ago, and securing funding and a completed script well before Bulger’s arrest.
But as with almost every film pitch today, he already has some competition: The L.A. Times reported Sunday that one of Bulger’s other associates, John “Red” Shea, has also developed a script about his former boss—this one with the help of Mark Wahlberg, who brought Shea in as a consultant on The Departed. (In another coincidental Wahlberg connection, Shea is a former boxer who once knocked down Mickey Ward.) Shea’s script is based on his own book, Rat Bastards, and—just like MacKenzie’s tale—it’s about a guy who went from boxing to drug dealing and enforcing for Bulger on the hardscrabble streets of Boston. As of the Times’ article, Shea’s film still hadn’t found financing, and with MacKenzie’s film in production, that could make it even more difficult. Fortunately, if there’s one thing we know about the mob, they’re pretty gracious about sharing their turf.