Dick Lehr, a former Boston Globe reporter and co-author of a new book about the life of James "Whitey" Bulger was in L.A. last night, and he brought along screenwriter Mark Mallouk who has adapted Lehr and Gerard O'Neill's previous tome, "Black Mass: Whitey Bulger, the FBI, and a Devil's Deal" for a movie that is to begin filming in Boston this summer. Depp and director Barry Levinson are both attached. Levinson is also in pre-production with "Gotti: In the Shadow of My Father."
|James "Whitey" Bulger, 1956|
Lehr read from his latest book, recounting Whitey's prison years in Atlanta in the 1950s, where he volunteered to participate in studies on what was a new drug in the United States, LSD. Psychiatrists thought that LSD might be a useful tool in the study of criminal psychopaths. However, Lehr says the CIA also got into the act and tested numerous other drugs on prisoners. We'll likely never know which substances were used in the testing because all records were destroyed. As you might expect, the agency's shadowy behavior during that study resulted in quite a scandal.
Lehr noted that, aside from the FBI, Whitey conned other notable figures into helping him sidestep the penalties due to him, including speaker of the U.S. House John McCormack, and Father Robert Drinan, a Catholic priest and dean of Boston College Law School, who would later become a Massachusetts congressman.
"McCormack's fingerprints are all over Whitey's records," noted Lehr. The House speaker stepped up to the plate for Whitey, as did Drinan, and saw to his early release from detention, including two years served in Alcatraz when the norm for most inmates was an eight year stretch.
Whitey's most commonly heard refrain was, I'm no angel, but I'm not ... fill in the blanks: As bad as they say. A drug pusher. A murderer. Of course, his self-assessment was dubious at best.
|Ed Harris, left, Whitey, right|
Whitey, being the notorious narcissist that he is, is undoubtedly aware of and concerned about the movie project. Someone last night asked Lehr if a special screening is in the cards for Whitey, who is sitting in a Plymouth County jail cell awaiting trial. "Whitey isn't going to be having any special screenings," the author said.