Top real estate lawyer makes silver-screen consulting debut with “99 Homes”

Adam Leitman Bailey advised on new foreclosure thriller’s script

TRD New York /
Sep.September 18, 2015 03:10 PM

Move over, John Grisham. Hollywood’s got a new go-to legal beagle.

Real estate attorney Adam Leitman Bailey made his silver-screen consulting debut Thursday night with the premiere of “99 Homes,” the new foreclosure-crisis film starring Michael Shannon and Andrew Garfield. In the movie, Shannon even spouts Bailey’s stock phrase: “Don’t get emotional about real estate.” 

The movie follows a foreclosure victim (Garfield) in 2008-era Orlando, Fla., who goes to work for a real estate broker (Shannon) running housing scams in the area, in an effort to make a deal to recover his home.

“They’re boxes,” Shannon’s character says in the film about houses. “Big boxes, small boxes. What matters is how many you’ve got.”

Bailey, whose eponymous Lower Manhattan-based law firm has handled cases for and against many top developers, said he wrote three scenes involving Florida foreclosure court. Director and co-writer Ramin Bahrani included some of Bailey’s writing in the final script. And an attorney credited as “Lawyer Bailey” (played by Jonathan Vane) makes a cameo in the film.

The New York premiere and after-party Thursday night in Lincoln Square drew a wide range of celebrities, including Barbara Walters, Oliver Stone, Rudy Giuliani’s wife Judith Giuliani and J.C. Chandor, director of the upcoming real estate film “The Liar’s Ball.” The guests schmoozed at the AMC Loews cinema and later at chic Chinese eatery Shun Lee West.

In the film, out on Sept. 25, the corrupt broker’s schemes include stealing air conditioners from foreclosed homes so the government will pay him to unknowingly re-install them with another stolen appliance, and abuse of the industry-wide “Cash for Keys” system.

There are powerful scenes depicting families being evicted from their homes on the spot, and a taut dynamic between Garfield and Shannon.

Shannon said he met with brokers in Florida to research the role, and they taught him “everything” he now knows about the foreclosure crisis.

“I didn’t know a damn thing about it,” Shannon told The Real Deal at the film’s premiere. The film was shot on location in New Orleans.

Beyond reality shows such as “Million Dollar Listing New York” and “Selling New York,” real estate has recently invaded mainstream culture in the form of the David Simon miniseries “Show Me a Hero” and the Robert Durst docuseries “The Jinx.”

This was Bailey’s first consulting gig for film. The lawyer said he has known Bahrani since 2000, and noted that the director has “always been fascinated” by the colorful world of real estate.

“No one’s covered the human side of the crisis before,” Bailey said.

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