'Russian Doll' Director Leslye Headland To Direct Will Ferrell In FIFA Corruption Movie

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Will Ferrell is about to star in another sports movie, but this one will be a far cry from the goofy antics of Semi-Pro, Talladega Nights, or Blades of Glory.

Ferrell will star in American Huckster, an adaptation of a 2016 book about Chuck Blazer, a middle-class guy who managed to con his way to the upper echelons of FIFA, the professional soccer organization, and scam them out of millions of dollars. Leslye Headland, the co-creator, writer, and director of Netflix's fantastic new series Russian Doll, is on board to direct.

Deadline first reported the news about American Huckster, which Headland will direct for HBO Films. The screenplay was first written by Robert Siegal (The Wresler, The Founder), and Headland is rewriting before filming gets underway. She started out in the theater world before becoming a staff writer on the brilliant and cancelled-too-soon FX series Terriers, and she made her directing debut with Bachelorette in 2012. Since then, she's helmed the excellent romantic drama Sleeping with Other People and several TV shows, including four episodes of Russian Doll, which she created alongside Natasha Lyonne and Amy Poehler.

Ferrell has some experience with soccer movies already: he starred in the 2005 family comedy Kicking & Screaming, where he played an over-enthusiastic coach for his kid's team. (He's also the co-owner of a Major League Soccer expansion team called the Los Angeles Football Club.) This project seems like it will trade the wacky, over-the-top humor for something a bit more serious: corruption on the highest levels of international sports. Here's the book's synopsis from Amazon:

American Huckster: How Chuck Blazer Got Rich From – And Sold Out – The Most Powerful Cabal in World Sports

The first inside account of the international soccer scandal that rocked the world and the American at its center—the incredible story of how a stay-at-home New York soccer dad illegally made millions off the world's most powerful and corrupt sports organization and became an unlikely FBI whistleblower.

He was the middle-class Jewish kid from Queens who rose from local youth soccer leagues to the heights of FIFA, becoming a larger-than-life, jet-setting buccaneer—and the most notorious FBI informant in sports history. For years, Chuck Blazer skimmed over $20 million from FIFA, stashing his money in offshore accounts and real estate holdings that included a luxury apartment in Trump Tower, a South Beach condo, and a hideaway in the Bahamas. Instantly recognizable with his unruly mass of salt-and-pepper hair and matching beard—and a rotating crop of arm candy—Blazer was one of the most flamboyant figures in the glitzy social and political circles of international soccer. Over the course of thirty years, Blazer leveraged his friendships with the likes of Vladimir Putin, Hillary Clinton and Nelson Mandela, to increase his influence with the mandarins of global soccer—most notably Sepp Blatter, FIFA's long-time godfather.

Once Blatter tapped Blazer to be the first American in almost fifty years to sit on FIFA's executive committee, the erstwhile accountant steadily accumulated money and power—until 2013 when the FBI and IRS nabbed Blazer and charged him with fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion. In exchange for immunity, Blazer agreed to let the Feds install a microphone in his keychain to entrap his larcenous band of brothers—leading to the shocking arrest and indictment of eighteen FIFA officials for racketeering and bribery.

In this taut and suspenseful tale of white-collar crime and betrayal at the highest levels of international business, investigative reporters Mary Papenfuss and Teri Thompson draw on sources in U.S. law enforcement as well as in Blazer's inner circle to tell the surreal tale of this astonishing character and the scandal that rocked the world.