Everyone in the tri-state area shopped at the Crazy Eddie’s store on Canal Street in the mid-seventies. His prices really were insane, just like his brilliant commercials, which ran incessantly in the neighborhood, promised. There was a feel to the place that you were buying prime consumer electronics which fell off a truck. This may have been because the chain, which was started in Brooklyn in 1971 in by Eddie and Sam M. Antar, was a front for something else. Jon Turteltaub (The Meg, National Treasure) will direct the biopic Insane about “Crazy” Eddie Antar, who did time on one of the greatest securities frauds in history, according to Deadline. The film is being financed by eOne. The screenplay was written by Peter Steinfeld.
Insane will focus on Sam E. Antar, who was CFO of Crazy Eddie’s and “complicit in its illegal activities,” according to the official synopsis.
Eddie Antar was the grandson of Syrian immigrants. He opened a single stereo store in Brooklyn in 1969 and it grew to 43 stores largely by its ads. Comedian and disc jockey Jerry Carroll taped more than 7,500 radio and TV ads, and would do anything to bring people down to one of the stores. Every year or Crazy Eddie’s would throw a “Christmas in August” sale and Carroll would dress like Santa and get pelted with fake snowballs.
When the stores went public they became a Wall Street sensation. Michael Chertoff, the United States Attorney who prosecuted the case, called Eddie Antar the “Darth Vader of capitalism.” Antar paid employees off the books, forgot to report cash purchases, kept sales tax. When Eddie’s cousin, Sam Antar, graduated from college as a Certified Public Accountant that grew to a to $145 million in securities fraud. Antar went on the lam after a hostile takeover and the SEC charged him with stock fraud. He got himself extradited back to the United States after he called the cops in Switzerland to find out why his account was frozen. Antar served time in prison until 1999, and was ordered to pay $150 million in fines. He died in 2016.
Insane is being produced by Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, Peter Steinfeld, DeShawn Schneider and Mandy Stein.
Culture Editor Tony Sokol cut his teeth on the wire services and also wrote and produced New York City’s Vampyr Theatre and the rock opera AssassiNation: We Killed JFK. Read more of his work here or find him on Twitter @tsokol.