While we’re not out of the woods yet, by a long shot, the past two weeks have been the first positive turn of events in the PFGBest saga for quite a bit, with some clients getting a portion of their funds back trading via new accounts at other clearing firms, or sent home via check or wire.
But while 30% to 40% feels a heck of a lot better than 0%, the trustee is still working at recouping a larger percentage of funds for clients. As the holidays approach this week, we found ourselves batting around unique ways for Mr. Bodenstein to make that number climb to 100%. Some were boring, some were amusing, and some were just out there.
And then there was this: let’s make a movie. After all, as many a client has mentioned to us, not even Hollywood could write the crap we’ve seen here. And really, it’s entirely possible that, one of these days, the bizarre times we’re living in will make it to the silver screen- making producers, directors and actors a whole lot of money. So why not beat them to the punch? We could make a movie based on this disaster, and have all the money it makes go toward making clients whole. Right?
See, we already know the PERFECT producers for something like this- Before the Door Pictures. They were the genius behind Margin Call. We reviewed the film when it first came out (see here), and we still stand behind our assessment that it’s one the best financial dramas we’ve ever seen. If anyone could tell this story, it’s them (whatta ya think, guys?).
But who would play the characters we’re watching on a daily basis? Tough question, to be sure. In fact, it was a point of heated debate for us. Maybe that’s because we’ve got an office full of movie buffs (with a few exceptions who we love to tease for their ignorance). Our thought was that we could sit down with them and try to make the case for a pro bono performance (are you beginning to understand why we laughed this idea off?). In any case, here are our picks and justifications:
Russ Wasendorf, Sr. – Liam Neeson
This was the hardest guy to cast. One of several villains in our story, Sr. has a unique look to him. Neeson would have to swap the English accent for an Iowa dialect and die his hair blondish… but that nose is a dead ringer. Plus, the way we see it, Neeson, via his past characters, has trained Batman, fought wolves, hunted kidnappers, taught young men to steal hearts and more. We won’t repeat the terms we use to describe Wasendorf Sr. around our office, but if anyone can capture the essence of our colorful language, it’s Neeson.
|Nancy von Goeben-Paladino – Linda Hamilton
In another twist that seems to be straight out of a Hollywood plot, Wasendorf, Sr. got married 9 days before the fraud came out to one Ms. Paladino. Try as we might to find an image of her that actually shows her entire face, we’ve given up, and instead casted Ms. Hamilton who might be looking for some work…Terminator 10 probably isn’t coming out for some time.
|Russ Wassendorf, Jr. – Nathan Fillian
Here was another one that was hard to cast, especially since we have no idea what role he played in all of this nonsense quite yet. Not a day goes by that we don’t get asked if we think he knew. Mal would probably need some hefty makeup here, but his general nature matched up with what we’d need out of this character.
|Dan Roth – Chevy Chase
NFA president Roth is one hard man to cast. We thought about using Anthony Hopkins, particularly after seeing new pictures of him come out in makeup for the role of Alfred Hitchcock, but it still wasn’t quite right. Chevy Chase was sort of an accidental discovery, but with some good makeup and a few months of good Italian food, it could work. And there’s something about Chevy’s ability to bumble and stumble his way around while still ending up on top which seems to fit.
|NFA Auditors – The Cast of The Hills
Young and about as qualified to be auditing a complex financial firms as the real auditors who looked a PFGBest over the years – a perfect fit.
|Gary Gensler – Tony Hale
For the role of CFTC head Gensler, we were most concerned about the eyes. Let’s face it- he’s got weird eyes. We considered Buscemi and a few others, but Tony Hale is so perfect for this that once we thought of him, the debate was over.
|Susan O’Meara – Sigourney Weaver
PFGBest Compliance Chief O’Meara didn’t exactly blast the bloodsucking alien Wasendorf into outerspace as Weaver might have, but they could almost be sisters, right?
|Brenda Cuypers – Ali Larter
She’s not a dead ringer for PFGBest CFO Cuypers, but Larter is sort of the queen of playing a badass. Just in case we want to throw in some kind of flashy, unrelated gunfight for production value, Larter will be able to step up to the plate, and special effects? We know a guy.
|Bob Agnew – Alan Rickman
So, we have no clue what this guy looks like, but we figure we probably can’t tell the story without including him, since Sr. credits him with setting the whole thing in motion by badgering him in his early days to the point where Wasendorf just had to commit fraud to survive. Relying on Sr.’s characterizations, we decided we should go with a guy who can play the jerk, and the young bloods in our office suggested the former Professor Snape of Harry Potter lore would do nicely.
|Ira Bodenstein – Edward Norton
Bankruptcy trustee Bodenstein. Has to be Ed Norton. Enough said.
|James Koutoulas – Josh Charles
Who in the world do you cast to play the MFGlobal boy wonder? Actually, we probably looked at more people to play Koutoulas than anyone else, and this is as close as we’re gonna get. Koutoulas is just too one of a kind.
The following folks may not be necessary for the movie, but a few others to include if we want to…
So, we have a production company and a cast. No need for a casting director anymore, so we save on costs there. Now, what shall we call it?
- Photoshoppin’: The Musical (No Tagline needed)
- PFG: Pilfering, Filthy Goons “They were definitely the “best”- at deceit, that is.”
- Margin Call 2: Deliberate Miscalculation “It’s the regulators who missed the risk this time.”
- Too Big to Fail: The Wasendorf Ego “Unwieldy, unyielding and unbelievable.”
- Trading Faces “The Duke brothers got nothing on him.”
Alright, alright- we’re done now. Hopefully it made a few of you who are just as frustrated as us with all of this smile for a minute. We’re back to fighting the good fight now- just remember you’ve got someone in your corner.