A lot can happen between the beginning and end of the Panama Canal.
That’s where Denver City Council member Kevin Flynn was in mid-December when he got the email confirming that his book with the late Gary Gerhardt, “The Silent Brotherhood,” was going into production as a big-budget movie.
“It was totally out of the blue,” Flynn said Tuesday. “I was on a cruise with my wife at the time … but don’t tell anyone that I check work email on vacation.”
“The Silent Brotherhood: Inside America’s Racist Underground” was published in 1989 and has for years been in discussion as a movie with different production teams. It was recently adapted into a screenplay by Oscar- and BAFTA-nominated writer Zach Baylin (“King Richard”), Flynn said. Retitled “The Order,” the movie will explore the white supremacist, far-right militia organizations that Flynn and Gerhardt — former Rocky Mountain News reporters — investigated in their nonfiction book. (“The Order” movie is not related to the canceled Netflix supernatural series of the same name).
Screenwriter Baylin happens to be the son-in-law of former Denver City Council member Mary Beth Susman, Flynn said. After finding out that Flynn worked with Susman, Baylin contacted Flynn in 2019 about adapting the true-crime thriller.
Australian director Justin Kurzel (“Macbeth,” “Assassin’s Creed”) is heading up the project, with Jude Law (“Captain Marvel,” the “Fantastic Beasts” series) and Nicholas Hoult (“The Menu,” “X-Men”) starring. It’s being financed and produced by AGC Studios, according to Variety, along with Bryan Haas of Chasing Epic Pictures and Law’s Riff Raff Entertainment. Production on the film will begin in May in Alberta, Canada.
As of Feb. 18, Amazon Prime had snapped up international rights to the hotly anticipated project, Variety reported. Law will play “a lone FBI agent stationed in Idaho who starts piecing together a pattern in a series of violent bank robberies, counterfeiting operations and armored car heists” in the Pacific Northwest.
“Rather than the work of a traditional organized crime unit, he believes a radical group, helmed by a charismatic leader (Hoult), is behind the devastation,” Variety wrote.
Members of one of the real-life hate groups, also called The Order, were responsible for killing Denver talk-show host Alan Berg outside of his Adams Street townhouse in 1984. Flynn said the bullet holes from the shooting were still visible on Berg’s former garage door as recently as three years ago when he drove by.
“The national atmosphere today with white nationalism has really pushed this topic to the forefront,” said Flynn, who formerly covered city government for the Rocky and has served on Denver City Council since 2015. “That’s part of the reason you’re seeing it go into production now.”
The award-winning “Silent Brotherhood” co-author, Gerhardt, died at age 73 in 2015 after working at the Rocky Mountain News for 40 years.
The groups they wrote about spout “anti-Black, anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi rhetoric (whose) grievances have festered into full-blown paranoia and a call for an all-out race war,” according to a publisher’s description. ” ‘The Silent Brotherhood’ reveals in terrifying detail how the group became criminals and assassins in their effort to establish an Aryan homeland.”
“Obviously the movie’s not going to deal with all of the things we found most interesting about the entire, far-right terrorist gang,” Flynn said. “But I saw a script two years ago and thought, ‘More power to them if they can do it.’ I had kind of moved on with my life.”
Even though Flynn will have “zero to no” creative input on the movie — his standard contract will give him a cut of the movie’s net income — he has thought about asking for an Alfred Hitchcock-style cameo in the movie.
“It’s been 33 years in the making,” he said. “And I think Gary would be delighted because we always thought this would make a good cops and robbers film.”
Producers of the movie have not applied for any Colorado-based filming tax credits or in-state production-spending rebates, according to the Colorado Office of Film, Television and Media.
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