The Real Deal New York

Will the stars align for “The Liar’s Ball?”

Even the producers of the GM building saga dream of Brad Pitt

August 01, 2015
By Claire Moses

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It’s not to hard to envision Josh Brolin and Gene Hackman deep in negotiations on one of the most talked about real estate transactions in New York City history. Or a shiny conference room — or smoky backroom even — where Brad Pitt and Dustin Hoffman wrangle over a $1 billion transaction.

With “The Liar’s Ball” — Vicky Ward’s nonfiction bestseller about the redevelopment of the iconic GM Building — being turned into a movie, the real estate world is playing a guessing game about which A-listers will portray New York’s most powerful real estate magnates.

Early rumors had Pitt portraying former Vornado chief Michael Fascitelli. But Neal Dodson, one of the producers, said it’s way too soon to officially talk about which actor will be cast as which mogul. “We’re not there yet,” Dodson told The Real Deal.

The director is set: J.C. Chandor, best known for directing 2011’s Academy Award-nominated “Margin Call.” Zachary Quinto, known both for his behind-the-scenes work as well as his on-screen turns as Spock in the latest “Star Trek” movies, will serve as executive producer. And Gideon Yago, who wrote for HBO’s “The Newsroom,” is at work turning Ward’s tome into a screenplay.

Once the script is finished, the team will sit start thinking about casting, with the help of a casting director.

Casting has its own protocol in the movie-making process, Dodson explained. Household-name actors like Pitt and Brolin are snagged by making offers to their agents. Smaller roles will likely be cast through an audition process.

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While the Pitt rumor wasn’t confirmed by anyone — including Ward herself, who said she isn’t involved in casting — nabbing the superstar isn’t out of the question. “There’s no producer who wouldn’t love to work with Brad Pitt,” said Dodson.

Finding the perfect fit for the roles involves assessing both looks and other qualities.

But that doesn’t mean a producer can’t dream.

For Fascitelli, Dodson said, he could see Brolin — best known for his roles in “W.” and “No Country for Old Men” — in the part, if Pitt doesn’t sign on.

For Macklowe, Dodson has a clear, yet most likely unattainable idea. “Gene Hackman would be an amazing Harry Macklowe,” he said. If the Oscar-winning legend isn’t available? “Mel Brooks would be totally perfect.” (Yes, he meant that Mel Brooks.)

While Donald Trump plays a role in the earlier years of the story about the GM Building, it’s not clear yet whether or not the mogul and presidential candidate will make it into the screenplay. The script will hone in on Macklowe’s involvement in the deal, Dodson said, simply because the whole book will not fit into a screenplay. But, from a casting standpoint, including the Donald wouldn’t be easy either. “Trump,” Dodson said, “is impossible to cast.”