Three-and-a-half years after Enron spiraled into bankruptcy, the fallen energy firm's scandal is once again grabbing headlines.
The current media frenzy is over the release of the Alex Gibney documentary, "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room," based on the 2003 book of the same name by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind.
Of course, in a world where television shows like "American Idol" and "The Amazing Race" are major hits, it shouldn't be surprising that a tale of corporate greed of such magnitude that its path of destruction ruined thousands of innocent people looks poised to become a blockbuster film.
The movie, which has already premiered in several cities -- including Houston, where the notorious energy concern was headquartered -- is fittingly set to debut nationwide this weekend, just days after Andersen, the audit firm whose demise was tied to the Enron implosion, is set to appeal its conviction on a charge of obstruction of justice for its destruction of Enron documents. As it happens, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments today from Andersen -- formerly the largest firm in the nation and once considered the "gold standard" in auditing -- that its conviction must be reversed because of improper jury instructions.
The film version of the exploits of former chief executive Ken Lay and company hopes to emulate the breakout success of last year's "Fahrenheit 911." The film's Web site, www.enronmovie.com, offers lots of bells and whistles, like audio tapes of conversations between Enron traders and a Millionaire's Jackpot slot machine that displays phrases such as "Great spin! You just screwed co-workers out of their life savings!," along with biographies and links to the testimony of major Enron "players" such as Lay, Andrew Fastow and Jeff Skilling.
But after more than three years of writing about Enron's consequences and its impact on the accounting profession, I'm not sure I want to spend another 110 minutes mulling over the big-screen version of what went on in Houston. After all, I am reminded of Enron on a nearly daily basis at work by the phrases "Sarbanes-Oxley" and "Public Company Accounting Oversight Board."
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