Movie rights sold for “A Vintage Crime”

a vintage crime fraud

Level 1 Entertainment has purchased the movie rights to “A Vintage Crime,” a story by Mike Steinberger about wine counterfeiting that appeared yesterday on VanityFair.com. Edward Milstein and Bill Todman Jr. co-founded Level 1, which has released two comedies (“Grandma’s Boy” and “Strange Wilderness”) as well as a thriller (“Rendition”) with houses 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, and New Line Cinema.

Milstein has several ties to the story. He is a wine collector and overlapped with Kurniawan, who is at the center of the story and indicted, awaiting trial. Milstein is co-chairman of Emigrant Savings Bank; a previous suit alleged that Kurniawan defaulted on a $3 million loan to Emigrant. Milstein owns or has a stake in Remoissenet Pere et Fils, a Burgundy producer, as well as The Sorting Table, a Napa-based wine importer. He also heads his family’s real estate company with his brother.

“Eddie is a huge wine collector who knew Rudy, and likely bought a few bottles from him, and when we got a peek at this article, Eddie flipped for it and we bought it preemptively,” Todman told Deadline. “It has that Catch Me If You Can thriller aspect, where you can’t believe this guy got away with this for so long, ingratiating himself into this billionaire’s club and living the high life, at least for awhile.”

Since the project will need a screenwriter, a director, and casting decisions before it can start shooting (if, indeed, it ever makes it that far), that gives us plenty of time to weigh in with our choices. Who do you see in the leading roles? It will be interesting to see if they keep a young ethnic Chinese in the central role, or if they opt for more of a George Clooney, Johnny Depp, or Gary Oldman type. And how about Jean Reno as Laurent Ponsot? Or do you think the story is too narrow for the silver screen?

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12 Responses to “Movie rights sold for “A Vintage Crime””


  1. Congrats to Mike Steinberger for writing the story and for being one of the first to report it as it unfolded.


  2. I saw that and figured he bought the rights to guarantee it would never get made.


  3. After seeing M. Ponsot’s picture, Jean Reno does seem perfect. I have my heart set on Ashton Kutcher as Rudy. He could look Asian.
    But who would play Mike Steinberger? I think that Brad Pitt is booked.


  4. [...] Colman reports that Level 1 Entertainment has purchased the movie rights to Mike Steinberger’s recent [...]


  5. [...] rights sold for ‘A Vintage Crime’. What do you think about wine movies? Does watching Sideways drive you [...]


  6. Could be an interesting narrative for film. Already well covered in New York magazine.

    One minor correction: The Sorting Table is based in Napa, and not NYC.


  7. M. L. – Yes, Chateau Sucker in NY mag was also good. You might also want to check out this first-person account from a collector:

    http://oldvinenotes.com/2012/06/18/the-rise-and-fall-of-a-wine-counterfeiter/

    Thanks, corrected the location of The Sorting Table.


  8. How does one own, sell or buy the rights to a news story? Steinberger’s story came out long after many others (Hellman and Wallace, notably), anyway. What’s Milstein going to do, try to copywrite a real event? His investment acumen is highly questionable.


  9. [...] Mike Steinberger in Vanity Fair. Both are fascinating reading (and Steinberger’s piece has been optioned for movie rights) for a morality story about all that is wrong with wine and wine appreciation. Many high-profile [...]


  10. @ Wino. I am wondering the same thing. Selling news rights isn’t exactly profitable.


  11. @Clyde: Exactly. What’s to stop somebody from making a movie based on the numerous other articles that have been published before and after Steinberger’s (admittedly very good and, as usual, well-written) piece? What’s Milstein going to do, sue them? That’s like buying the movie “rights” to last night’s Dodgers game. Milstein sounds like a real doofus.


  12. [...] come to the forefront of the wine world’s consciousness. Countless articles have been written, movies have been pitched, and record web traffic has been achieved. But nowhere has Champagne been mentioned. Perhaps this [...]


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