A number of notable gangland figures from the ferocious, flashy and cocaine-fueled 1980s Detroit drug scene will be getting the Hollywood movie treatment next year in the highly-anticipated film White Boy Rick about former illegal underage FBI informant Richard (White Boy Rick) Wershe, Jr.,the longest-serving non-violent juvenile offender in the history of the Michigan Department of Corrections. Starring Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey as Wershe’s street-hustler dad and fellow federal informant and newcomer Richie Merritt as Wershe, White Boy Rick is currently shooting in Cleveland and slated for a January 2018 release to theatres nationwide.

At only 14 years old and just weeks out of the eighth grade, Wershe was recruited by a federal narcotics task force made up of the FBI, DEA and Detroit Police Department to act as a paid mole in the primarily black local drug world. The working relationship between the savvy, slick-talking teen and the unscrupulous task force lasted for two years, garnering the feds mountains of elite intelligence, Wershe tens of thousands of dollars from a government stipend and before the unholy union was broken off in the early fall of 1986.

Only months after Wershe went on his own and began dealing drugs without federal sanctioning and financing, the 17-year old former government pawn was arrested at a traffic stop in front of his grandmother’s house where police found a box containing under a nearby neighbor’s porch. Wershe’s been behind bars since January 1988. He’s 47 today and has his next parole hearing on June 8 in Jackson, Michigan.

After an 18-month search that literally spanned the globe, Merritt, an unknown, 15-year old non-actor from Baltimore was cast as Wershe in the movie. McConaughey will portray Richard Wershe, Sr., his son’s entre into a pay-for-play relationship with the feds who spent a few years in the clink himself for selling silencers in the wake of his son’s high-profile conviction at a winter 1988 trial held amid a full-blown media frenzy.

Jonathan Majors, the star of this year’s ABC television miniseries When We Rise, is playing legendary eastside Detroit drug lord Johnny (Lil’ Man) Curry, the younger Wershe’s mentor in the crack game. Curry controlled large sections of narcotics-trafficking turf on the eastside from the 1970s all the way into the late 1980s and was deeply connected into the Detroit political machine through his marriage to Mayor Coleman A. Young’s niece, Cathy Volsan, a notorious “dope diva,” of the era. Volsan will be played by former L.A. Laker Girl Taylour Paige (VHI’s Hit The Floor).

Popular LA.-based rapper YG has been cast as Curry’s twin brother and co-crime boss Leo (Big Man) Curry. R.J. Cyler (Me and Earl and The Dying Girl, Power Rangers) will play their youngest  brother, Rudell (Boo) Curry, Wershe’s former little league baseball teammate and introduction into the gang. The Curry brothers were indicted and jailed in March of 1987. They pled guilty to federal drug charges and both did 12 years in prison. When the Currys went away, Wershe, still shy of his 18th birthday, began romancing the then-24-year old Volsan.

Wershe’s right-hand man and best friend Stephen (Freaky Steve) Roussell will also be depicted by a rapper. Well-regarded Milwaukee wordsmith Ish Darr recently got the nod. Roussell, 20, was killed in the early-morning hours of September 12, 1987, gunned down as he slept on his living room couch by street rival Reginald (Rocking Reggie) Brown, one of the sociopathic, bloodthirsty leaders of the Best Friends Gang. Brown, doing life in prison for the murder, and Roussell had been feuding for months over a girl.

Studio 8, a relatively-new boutique outfit located on the Sony Pictures lot, is footing the 40-million dollar bill and putting out the White Boy Rick film. The movie was written by Logan and Nolan Miller (Sweetwater), Andy Weiss (Middle Men), Scott Silver (8 Mile, The Fighter) and Steve Kloves (The Fabulous Baker Boys, the Harry Potter series). Producers on the picture include Oscar-winner Jon Lesher (Birdman, Black Mass) and Oscar-nominees Darren Aronofsky and Scott Franklin (The Wrestler, Black Swan).

Rick Wershe

The Curry Bros. (Lil’ Man & Big Man)

Cathy Volsan

Mayor Coleman A. Young

Richard Weshe Jr. (center) & Richard Wershe, Sr. (back left)

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