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?