Posted on Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 by Russ Fischer
Here’s one of those stories of outrageous theft that sounds too great to be true. Except that it is true, and full of all the things that make for a great narrative: hope, dreams, criminal activity, and pieces of the moon.
The Social Network producers Scott Rudin, Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti are coming together again to do a new project with Ben Mezrich. That’s the author of The Accidental Billionaires, upon which The Social Network was based. Mr. Mezrich has proposed a new book called Sex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History, which follows the odd story of a NASA employee who stole and attempted to sell pieces of the moon, in part to impress his girlfriend.
The LA Times says that Sony has optioned the proposal (it’s not even a book yet) and will work with the producers to develop a film based on the material.
The subject is Thad Roberts, once a young scientist at NASA. With the help of a college friend, he concocted a scheme to sell samples of rock taken from the moon — mega-rare finds for geoglogists, essentially the holy grail for mineral enthusiasts. And, it should be noted, completely illegal to possess. They found a buyer, and with the help of two young women — one of them his girlfriend — Mr. Roberts broke into his mentor’s lab and stole a safe containing the moon samples. But the delivery to the prospective buyer became complicated, as the FBI had been looped in. As you might expect, the federal government does not take lightly to the theft of sensitive materials.
Read the details in Michael Goldstein’s 2004 article at the LAT; it’s a weird, great story with enough character that you can almost see the movie playing out as you read. We’ll track what happens with the development of this one, because it could be a solid screen story.