Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Wendy Ruderman & Barbara Laker's "Busted"

Wendy Ruderman has a master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Before joining the Philadelphia Daily News in 2007, she worked at several media outlets, including the Philadelphia Inquirer, WHYY-TV and WHYY-FM, the Trenton Times, the Associated Press, and the Bergen Record.

Barbara Laker graduated from the University of Missouri Journalism School and worked for several newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. She began working at the Philadelphia Daily News in 1993 and has been a general assignment reporter, an assistant city editor, and an investigative reporter.

Ruderman and Laker won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting.

Here Ruderman dreamcasts an adaptation of their new book, Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love:
In my dreams, a Hollywood producer makes a movie out of Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love, the book I co-authored with Philadelphia Daily News colleague Barbara Laker. In my nightmares, the director picks Zelda Rubinstein, the 4'3'' actress from the 1982 film Poltergeist, to play me in the movie ("Go into the light, Carol Ann!"). Then I wake up and realize: a) Zelda Rubinstein is way too old to play me and b) the 76-year-old actress died in 2010.

A gal can dream, however, and Barbara and I, along with our friends and family and what seems like the entire Daily News staff, spend time fantasizing about one day seeing Busted on the big screen, or even a little one as a television crime drama.

And why not? Although Busted is nonfiction, those who've read the book say they can visualize a movie or HBO series about two dogged journalists, both suburban moms, who find themselves plunged into a world of unsavory drug informants, violent drug dealers, thieving narcotics officers, pimps and prostitutes - all set against the backdrop of a flailing and bankrupt city newspaper. As author and columnist Lisa Scottoline put it, Busted reads like a turbocharged thriller, all the more compelling because it's true." And Edna Buchanan, a journalistic legend, said in a message that she left on my home answering machine, "It reads wonderfully and it will probably make a wonderful movie."

So, we dream. In our book, written together, literally side-by-side, but in my voice, Barbara is described as "oblivious to her ability to make men's heads turn." She has "long, wavy highlighted blond hair and a tangerine slice of a nose. Her big green eyes, flecked with caramel, reminded me of top-of-the-line granite kitchen counters." (We had some small spats over how to describe Barbara because she does not see herself as beautiful). But, here are the names of actresses who friends and colleagues think of when casting Barbara's character: Charlize Theron, Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Diane Lane and Maria Bello.

And who do I get? Zelda Rubinstein, when my colleagues (ok, just one snarky colleague) are in the mood to rib me. The more charitable responses for who should play me in Busted are: Tina Fey, Ellen Page and Shari Albert, a Philly born and raised actress who wowed audiences in The Brothers McMullen, which won the Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize in 1995. In the movie, Albert plays the Jewish girlfriend of one of the brothers. I do kind of look like her, only with a big nose. I'm 4'11'' with a cheap, page-boy haircut.

Umm, back to dreaming. Maybe I'll be played by some long-legged bombshell. Angelina Jolie, perhaps? In my dreams....
Learn more about Busted at the official website.

The Page 99 Test: Busted.

--Marshal Zeringue