On my weekly drives to and from Charlottesville, 2.5 hours each way, I listen to This American Life on my iPod. It’s a marvelous show, and, obsessive learner that I am, I relish the opportunity to continue to shovel more information into my head.
I recently listened to an August 2003 episode, entitled “MacGyver,” which features “four real stories in which real people invent amazingly clever solutions to their problems.” Act 3, “So Crazy It Just Might Work,” is about an FBI effort to take down the mob in Rhode Island, or at least a portion of it. Spearheaded by a single man, the operation involved making a movie — the FBI making a movie — in order to snare the Teamsters in the act of illegal activities. They bought a script, hired actors, went through pre-production — the whole thing was totally serious. It got to a point where the operation could have been wrapped up, but the g-man in charge of this got so caught up in all of it that he actually came to think of the movie as his ticket out of the FBI and into his dream job of movie producer. He really wanted to make and release this movie.
I won’t ruin the end for you, because, it turns out, this has been made into a movie: The Last Shot. It comes out this week, and stars Matthew Broderick, Alec Baldwin, Tony Shalhoub, Calista Flockhart, and Ray Liotta, among others. The movie could totally suck, I have no idea, but the story is a great one. If you don’t see the movie, at least listen to the episode of This American Life.