Posted on Tuesday, August 13th, 2013 by Angie Han
As Breaking Bad enters its home stretch, writer/producer George Mastras has found a new place to get his drug drama fix. The Emmy-nominated scribe will adapt the Dean Unkefer memoir 90 Church: The True Story of the Narcotics Squad from Hell, which Universal acquired last year for Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman) to direct.
Whereas Breaking Bad focuses mainly on the guy cooking and selling the drugs, though, 90 Church will center on the ruthless agents trying to catch that guy. Hit the jump for more details on the project.
Progress on 90 Church has been pretty quiet for the past year, and with Sanders attached to multiple films at the moment it’s not clear when cameras will roll. Still, Mastras’ hiring is an encouraging sign that Universal hasn’t forgotten about the project entirely.
Unkefer’s autobiographical tome chronicles his time at the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in the ’50s and ’60s, fighting organized crime alongside about 30 other agents in the area. The title refers to the bureau’s address in New York. The organization, a predecessor to the modern DEA, employed brutal tactics in their war against mobs and drug cartels. Eventually, their fearsome reputation attracted the attention of politicians, who called for an investigation.
Mastras has been with Breaking Bad since Season 1, working mainly as a writer and producer. He earned an Emmy nomination this year for the Season 5 episode “Dead Freight,” which he also directed. In addition, he has written for episodes of The Dresden Files and the short-lived procedural The Evidence.
Sanders’ other current projects include the Frederick Forsyth adaptation The Kill List and the sci-fi love story The Juliet.
90 Church was published this past spring in the U.K. Here’s the synopsis from Random House:
From 1950 through the late 1960s, America feared two great enemies: Communism and illegal drugs. While the espionage stories have been well publicised, the war against drugs was far more violent and has remained mostly secret. In New York City, the centre of organised crime and drug import, the offices of the newly formed Federal Bureau of Narcotics were based at 90 Church Street. While the FBI refused even to acknowledge organised crime, these agents stood alone against a well-organised Mafia and vicious drug cartels. To survive against impossible odds, the agents used incredibly brutal and cunning tactics to make cases and bring the war to a stalemate. Using an ever-expanding network of criminal informants held together by secret immunity deals, the sinister reputation of 90 Church grew along with the rising body count.
In 1968, alarmed politicians launched an ill-fated investigation into the Bureau’s operations. Accusations were made against the agents, and now fighting a war on two fronts, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics was dissolved and its agents discredited.
Though some names and sequences have been changed to protect identities, 90 Church is the real story of a young agent’s downward slide into hell as he falls victim to addiction, deception, violence, and shifting loyalties.