He must have learned it on Wall Street. Michael Lewis, the Salomon Brothers trader turned journalist, is, by the standards of newspaper hacks, a financial genius. And now he's got a movie deal.
Lewis reportedly earned $30,000 a pop for his New York Times Magazine stories. Then he got a fat contract with Portfolio, which a wild Web rumor said was worth $100,000 per year for just two articles. Then he renegotiated for an even better deal, even though Portfolio was already starting to hurt. Then Lewis got hired away for presumably even more money by Graydon Carter at Vanity Fair. That last move came after it was clear the economy was imploding, making it an especially impressive coup.
Now? Brad Pitt wants to adapt into a movie Moneyball, Lewis' book about poor-but-scrappy baseball franchise the Oakland A's. Steven Soderbergh is in talks to direct, Variety reports. Lewis won't make Pitt-level money, but he should get a nice cut, the bastard.
Journalist types might wonder if Liar's Poker, Lewis' debut book about his time at Salomon Brothers, might now be a more compelling movie. Not only is it a romp through the freewheeling culture of 1980s Wall Street, but it also gives the reader a front-row seat at the creation of mortgage-backed securities, the instruments at the root of the present financial crisis.
Warner Brothers has owned the rights for a few years, but another studio could swoop in and buy them up if it so desired.
On second thought, though, maybe audiences today would prefer an escapist tale about a baseball team that overcomes financial hardships and ends up champions to one about the financial wizards who, if only indirectly, got them into their present economic mess.