Grifting Is Totally Having A Moment & Shonda Rhimes Wants In

Photo: Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic/Getty Images.
Grifting — AKA the act of swindling, often by pretending to be someone you aren’t — is having a moment. From news of a Vogue staffer pocketing over $52,000 of an editor’s money to the all-lady extension of the Ocean’s movie franchise, there is something fascinating about hearing of people, particularly women, enacting crazy schemes to pull a profit. In many ways, it’s like watching a car crash or burning building — even if you don’t want to be a part of it, it’s hard to look away.
But the lady grifter who is most of the moment is probably Anna Delvey (whose real name is Anna Sorokin), the woman who posed as a German heiress and scammed the people close to her out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
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Shonda Rhimes has apparently noticed the dual grifting/Anna Delvey movement, too. Last night, it was announced that Rhimes’ first project at Netflix — where Rhimes signed an estimated $100 million deal in August after spending 15 years at ABC — would focus on Delvey.
Not much is known about the upcoming series other than the fact that Shondaland, Rhimes’ production company, has acquired the rights to Jessica Pressler’s New York magazine article “How Anna Delvey Tricked New York’s Party People.” Rhimes is also attached to write the series. It is unclear if Delvey will profit from the series and, if so, how Rhimes will wade through the ethically-murky territory that would go along with a scammer getting paid for others to hear about how they did it, à la Frank Abagnale, Jr. of Catch Me If You Can.
But, in any case, Rhimes won’t have a shortage of material to work with. Pressler’s account of Delvey’s swindling already has many trademarks of a Shondaland classic, with its ludicrous false identities, imprisonment (Delvey is currently being held without bail on Riker’s Island), and an overall aura of high-stakes, high-glamour drama looming over the whole thing. (For example, Delvey recently wore Céline sunglasses to court while trying to reach a plea deal.)
Rhimes isn’t the only one who has taken note of the cinematic quality of Delvey’s grifting. According to Variety, Rachel DeLoache Williams’ Vanity Fair piece about befriending Delvey, only to lose $62,000 to her in the process, is also gaining Hollywood attention. Stars like Jennifer Lawrence and Margot Robbie have reportedly expressed interest in the role — and, perhaps unsurprisingly, Delvey is said to be making the process “difficult” by making calls to producers from prison to help determine who she’d like to play her in any movie that emerges.
Grifting, it seems, might just pay off in the end — at least for the viewers.
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