Texas True Crime Film, Fruitcake Features Jennifer Garner

fruitcake-file-to-feature-jennifer-garner
May 17, 2024

Texas True Crime Film, Fruitcake Features Jennifer Garner

 How infamous bakery fraud fuels Texas tourism and economy

Production is back on for Fruitcake—the true-crime movie telling the story of the nine-year-long, $17 million embezzlement scandal perpetrated by Collin Street Bakery’s Financial Controller, Sandy Jenkins. The project is being produced by Red Productions, a Fort Worth film company, and is currently slated to star big names, including Hollywood luminary and Texas native Jennifer Garner. The film's script, written by Trey Selman, was largely inspired by a Texas Monthly article written by Katy Vine entitled Just Desserts. The film will be directed by Max Winkler, who is best known for directing films like Flower and Jungleland and TV shows like American Horror Story.

The true story caught the imagination of Red Sanders, founder of Red Productions, back in 2018. Filming was projected to begin in the summer of 2020, but unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic brought all filming aspirations to a crashing halt.

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Fruitcake Fraud documentary cover art—Image Source: Discovery+

Still eager to bring this story to light, Sanders consulted on a feature-length documentary entitled Fruitcake Fraud, produced and directed by Celia Aniskovcitch. The ninety-minute documentary-style film debuted on Discovery+ at the height of the 2021 holiday season and featured interviews from Collin Street Bakery staff employed at the time of the embezzlement, including third-generation Owner and Operator Bob McNutt. “The documentary was very well put together. It was very accurate, and it appropriately reflected well on the people at the bakery.”

The documentary’s overall success reinforced Sanders' position the story deserved a larger treatment. Heartened by public reception, Sanders continued to pursue the project, with an aim to restart filming in 2023. However, as plans were gearing up for a second attempt, the film was sidelined by two successive Hollywood strikes. With those strikes resolved, production is back in business, and crew members are currently performing preliminary location scouting in Corsicana and Fort Worth. 

For Sanders, a Texas Media Production Alliance board member, filming in Texas is paramount. The Alliance aspires to promote in-state incentive film funding and facilitate training programs to nurture local talent. Their website states, “The TXMPA works on behalf of its members to educate legislators and the general public on all forms of media production and the tremendous economic impact that it generates within the state.”

Sanders is also a founding member of the Forth Worth Film Commission (FWFC), which aims to assist with removing obstacles that frequently hinder film production, including permit acquisition, location scouting, and vendor relations. In clearing the path for creative producers, the Commission aims to “raise awareness of Fort Worth as a city for creative industries and as a tourist destination,” citing that “investing in local productions creates a 5:1 return in economic impact.”

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Red Sanders, right, answers questions at Forth Worth Film Collaborative Special Screen & Panel Conversation—Image Source: Facebook, Red Productions 

The FWFC’s estimates on the state-wide positive economic impacts of film production are echoed by the Texas Film Commission (TFC), whose records state that Texas-based production companies that participated in the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program (TMIIIP) between 2007 and 2022 generated $1.95 billion in economic impact with a 504% return on investment.

Undoubtedly, this statistic influenced state legislators, who, in 2023, boosted the state’s media incentive programming to $200 million for the next two years. Similar to rebates, these incentives help offset filming costs when producers meet specific requirements, such as ensuring their cast and crew are comprised of at least 55% Texas residents and 60% of the films’ total production days reside in-state. 

Taylor Sheridan, creator of the widely successful Yellowstone spinoff 1883 and executive producer of the original series Lawman: Bass Reeves, was instrumental in passing this recent legislation. According to State Representative Craig Goldman, “Taylor came down several times. [He] met with members of the House, he also met with the lieutenant governor, and that’s a major factor.” In a statement released by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, he confirmed Sheridan’s visit, saying, “I had a great dinner with Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan… he’s a Texan and gets Texas. My goal is for Taylor to move all of his TV and movie production to Texas. Working together, I think we can get it done.”

Incentivizing in-state film production is critical for securing lucrative future work that otherwise may have gone to states such as Georgia, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, offering generous incentives and tax credits. For producers like Sanders, this funding is the first step towards attracting future filming to the Lone Star State. "We'll be able to see consistent work coming to Texas and even more because the word's already getting out in the industry that it's a new day in Texas.” 

Sheridan and Sanders aren’t the only ones looking forward to the potential positive economic outcomes resulting from movies like Fruitcake. For Bob McNutt, this film is an opportunity to offset the financial sting felt as a result of Sandy Jenkins’ sticky fingers. “This movie will yet be another opportunity for people to learn about our state, our bakery, and our fruitcake,” said Bob McNutt. “Because of the embezzlement, [Collin Street Bakery] lost about $17 million. Because of this film, I hope we'll get every penny back and more.” 

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President & CEO Bob McNutt outside Collin Street Bakery's Corporate Offices—Image Source: Texas Monthly, Wynn Myers

To fruitcake advisories, this wish may sound like a pipedream. However, Bob McNutt has good reason to have high hopes. “Every time one of these shows has run featuring the embezzlement, people order fruitcake,” recounts McNutt. Sure enough, he's right. 

Shortly after the debut of Fruitcake Fraud in December of 2021, the bakery received a spike in orders for its flagship product, the DeLuxe® Fruitcake. In the subsequent weeks, reviews from certified buyers began flooding the website. On January 12, 2022, one verified customer wrote, “We had to order [a DeLuxe® Fruitcake] after watching Fruitcake Fraud on Discovery+. It was delicious! So sorry for what happened to these honest, hard-working people, but surely you are or will be back on top due to your delicious product and loyal employees.” 

A quick glance at the dozens of five-star reviews left on Collin Street Bakery’s various product pages reaffirms McNutt’s ambitions, with many reviewers expressing sentiments of being first-time buyers inspired by the events of the documentary. The connections between the embezzlement’s cinematic spotlights and the increased interest in fruitcake are unsurprising to most at the bakery. Bakery staffers are well aware of public perception of fruitcake and its correlation to consumption, even leveraging various fruitcake tropes to differentiate their products from competitors. For some, the upcoming movie is a chance to capture attention and encourage potential customers to assess their maligned beliefs. 

People tune in to learn about the scandal but then find themselves fascinated with the bakery,” said Emily Pair, Social Media Manager at Collin Street. “The bakery is over 125 years old, which in and of itself is impressive. But, when people discover the primary reason we’ve been in business that long is because of fruitcake, they start to wonder if they’ve been missing out on something.” 

While undoubtedly, there are those outside the bakery who feel that reenacting the embezzlement would be akin to opening old wounds, for bakery leadership, the movie is the metaphorical turning of lemons into lemonade. Some say rewriting the past is impossible, but the script in Bob McNutt’s office says otherwise.

collin-street-bakery's-famous-deluxe-fruitcake

Taste the Cake that Fueled the Fraud

We bet you didn’t know there was so much money in the fruitcake business. One bite of our world-famous fruitcake will have you singing a different song. Try for yourself the fruitcake that fueled our small-town scandal. Order our DeLuxe® Fruitcake today!

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BenM
May 20, 2024
Very true! Gotta order fruitcake again! It’s delicious !
MR ROY BOON
May 20, 2024
Can not wait until Christmas this year, need my CSB, fix now and maybe a small for my neighbor.
Mr MR EARL ROPP
May 20, 2024
Have been eating your fruit cake for over 30 years. Starting when my kids were using them for fundraising at school and I like them so well that I just have to keep buying them
Laurie Belcher
May 29, 2024
In high school, our band sold these fruitcakes for a fundraiser every year. That was in the late 60’s. I still love these fruitcakes & have recently discovered Apricot fruitcakes that are amazing!
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