Dev Patel has joined the true crime movie from I, Tonya director Craig Gillespie about the rise and violent fall of the 1980s male strip club Chippendales. As reported by Deadline, the attachment of both star and filmmaker has spurred interest from several studios in the project, which was developed by producer David Permut of Permut Presentations.
Patel will portray Somen “Steve” Banerjee, an Indian American entrepreneur who bought a Los Angeles nightclub called Destiny II and transformed it into what would ultimately become Chippendales. Banerjee co-founded the famous male exotic dance club and act with career grifter Paul Snider and attorney Bruce Nahin. Snider’s wife, Playboy model Dorothy Stratten, helped design the signature cuff and collar uniforms of the Chippendales dancers. Chippendales became a multi-million dollar organization in the 1980s, which included revenue from club shows, calendar sales, and touring performances. However, violence soon creeped in – Snider killed Stratten in a murder-suicide in 1980 (the crime was the subject of Bob Fosse’s critically-acclaimed movie Star 80 starring Mariel Hemmingway and Eric Roberts), and Banerjee became entangled in plots to kill two of his former partners and two former Chippendales dancers. He pleaded guilty to a number of charges in the early 1990s, including racketeering and the murder-for-hire slaying of his former choreographer Nick De Noia, but was found hanging in his jail cell on the morning of his sentencing in an apparent suicide. It’s an absolutely wild story of greed and excess in pursuit of the American Dream that should fit well into Gillespie’s wheelhouse.
Over the course of the project’s long development, Ben Stiller was at one point attached to play Banerjee’s doomed business partner De Noia, but he has since moved on, leaving the role open. Meanwhile, Gillespie recently finished production on Cruella, a live-action take on the classic Disney villain Cruella De Ville with Emma Stone in the title role. Patel stars as Sir Gawain in David Lowery’s highly-anticipated dark fantasy film The Green Knight, which was originally scheduled to premiere at South by Southwest this past March with a wide theatrical release to follow in May, but has been postponed due to the pandemic to an unknown later date. For more true crime news, check out the trailer for Volume 2 of Netflix’s Unsolved Mysteries revival.