There’s been a lot of brouhaha over the interwebs lately about the John Gotti biopic in development. A number of people are asking me stupid questions so I might as well throw in my own two ¢ and get this over with.
Brass tacks: I barely knew the guy. We once shared a drink at a bar in Ozone Park many moons ago and he came off as a loudmouth. 50 years ago, I doubt Gotti would have made middle manager in any respectable crime family. You could argue that’s why he whacked Paul Castellano at Spark’s Steak House but the point is moot.To be frank, I’m outraged with the dumbing down of organized crime in the 21st century. Carlo Gambino would turn over in his grave if he saw the decline of his borgata. We’re talking about severe moral decay. Every made guy is running off to the FBI or, even worse, to Hollywood, eager to yell out his life story like that obnoxious know-it-all kid raising his hand in 3rd Grade: “Please call on me, teach! I know the answer! I’ll tell you where the bodies are buried. I’ll even wear a wire!”
“Keep your head down, Sam. Just stay in the background.”
That’s what my pal Murray “The Camel” Humphreys used to tell Giancana when he started making a fool of himself in front of the TV cameras. And Curly was right. He never did hard time nor would any of these other punks if they just kept the lips zipped. Just reading about the Massino trial has me reaching for my barf bag. It makes me sad when only a fictional mobster can tell it like it is: Guys today have no room for the penal experience.Live by the sword, die by the sword. That’s the rules. This “thing of ours” may not have amounted to a noble philosophy but the code had consistency. Omerta. There’s something undignified about Junior Gotti mugging for the paparazzi as he waltzes through Hollywood. At least Joe Bananas’ son, Bill Bonanno, engaged a talented journalist (Gay Talese) to write a tasteful, unvarnished biography in the classic book “Honor Thy Father.” On the other hand, I don’t know to what depths the Gotti family will stoop to profiteer off the sins of their father. I would have joked about a reality TV show but they’ve already done that. Perhaps, a clothing line or casino resort will be their next effort at branding the name.
As witness for the prosecution, I give you exhibit A. A biopic on Gotti is a tough sell. He was a run-of-the-mill thug with none of the psychological complexity of, say, Joey Gallo or Meyer Lansky. Still, a good actor could at least invent a character more interesting than the actual person. But leave it to the dimwits at William Morris to attach John Travolta as Gotti Sr. Are you f*****g kidding me? The guy’s a Scientologist! And regarding Lindsay Lohan as Frau Gotti, you can read my previous observations about her in an earlier post. Even Lilo had the sense to drop out of the project, but, as Al Pacino might say, just when she thought she was out, they pulled her BACK IN.
Employing perverse logic, I suppose there is nothing wrong with casting third-rate actors to play third-rate human beings. Nonetheless, the whole project strikes me as a sordid and tacky affair. And, really, that’s my beef with the film and the decline of the mob in general. Just like Dumb Donald used to say on “Fat Albert,” this crowd is like a school in summer – no class! When you dined with Johnny Roselli in a nice restaurant, he knew which fork to pick up for the salad even if that same hand had pulled the trigger an hour earlier. Today, what do we got? Jersey Shore? I never thought I’d end up siding with a douchebag like Curtis Silwa but he could have a point.
And dig the storyline! According to the IMDB synopsis, the film concerns the son of a mafia don who wants to go legit but ends up inheriting his father’s crime family. Didn’t Coppola make some film about that awhile back?
Obviously, one may argue that I have no right to judge a film that hasn’t even lurched into production. Perhaps, Joe Pesci can salvage this imminent train wreck of a picture. I also extend my directorial sympathies to Nick Cassavetes. He finally decided to bail due to “scheduling conflicts.”
Just for s***s and giggles, check out the low-rent website of the production company for the film: Everybody comes to Hollywood. I wanna make it in the neighborhood. Yeah. Buona fortuna, Junior!