Robert De Niro to play Bernie Madoff in adaptation of Andrew Madoff’s book

Last week, after a series of revealing interviews, Andrew Madoff released his book, “Truth and Consequences: Life Inside the Madoff Family,” an inside-look at the private pain of the family in the aftermath of their patriarch’s fall from grace. Film rights to the book were immediately scooped up by HBO, who then signed Robert De Niro to star in the film. It has also been reported that De Niro’s Tribeca Productions will produce what is ostensibly the first mainstream rendering of Madoff’s $50 billion Ponzi scheme, relying on his son’s tell-all as source material.

A spate of books about the Madoff scandal has thrust the family back into the spotlight, though it has not been a forgiving comeback. During a recent appearance on 60 Minutes, while enduring Morley Safer’s repeated charges as to whether she knew anything about Bernie’s scheme, Ruth Madoff seemed tired, her words drawn and slow, as if she were sedated. In a separate interview, Andrew clung tightly to his fiance, Catherine Hooper, the author of the family biography and who, as Andrew reported, will be the beneficiary of the book’s profits. The family’s opening up comes two years after Bernie’s confession and arrest and almost one year after the suicide of Andrew’s brother, Mark.

De Niro seems a smart choice for the Madoff role, though any actor is in danger of imbuing Madoff with more humanity than he possessed. It is unclear how much Madoff’s Jewish identity will factor into his characterization, though his disgrace came with plenty of accusations about Jewish power and corruption on Wall Street. Will the film address this theme in any significant way? Or rely on stereotypical allusions and insults? On the one hand, Madoff’s scheme confirms anti-Semitic notions about Jewish relationships to wealth; but on the other hand, Bernie Madoff was a tremendous source of shame for the community and is not emblematic of any macro-concepts about Jewish power. He is part of the Jewish community, yes, but he is the snake in the Garden of Eden.