We’re Suckers for Paul Scheer’s Movie Pitch About Con Woman Bertha Heyman (Podcast)
“Disaster Artist” star pitches us the unlikely story of an early American scammer
Long before Sandra Bullock swiped diamonds in “Ocean’s Eight” or Pam Grier laundered money in “Jackie Brown,” real-life scam queen Bertha Heyman conned men on trains, in synagogues and even in jail. On our latest “Shoot This Now” podcast, “Disaster Artist” and “The League” star Paul Scheer shares his fantastic ideas for turning her life into a movie.
“She’s the confidence queen,” Scheer said of Heyman, who mastered a con known today as the Nigerian Prince scam more than 150 years ago.
Impressively, she scammed men without the natural gifts of Bullock or Grier.
“She is this bad-ass con woman who was not conventionally attractive,” Scheer said. “As a matter of fact, the New York Times said this about her: ‘Bertha is a stout, gross-looking woman and it’s difficult to imagine how she succeeded in ensnaring so many victims by appeals to their confidence.'”
Scheer, who researched Heyman thoroughly, explained her modus operandi: “She travels as if she is super, super rich. Her cons basically follow this roadmap of the Nigerian Prince scheme — ‘I have a lot of money that I need to access, but I need money to access that money.’ Back in the day .. she’s the first one, pulling these schemes. She pulls her first con on a train going to Chicago … she cons this train-car conductor, cons him out of all of his money, and she comes to New York and starts pulling the same thing.”
There was a defiant feminism to her schemes.
“She said, ‘I didn’t even care if they had money. All I cared about conning men who though they were smarter than me,'” Scheer said.
That’s only the beginning of a story that also involves a talent agent, poetry, a U.S. theatrical tour and a co-ed boxing match.
We also talk about our dream cast and director — and then Scheer tells us about his many recent projects, ranging from the “Unspooled” and “How Did This Get Made” podcasts to the new film “Slice.”