GOTTI: IN THE SHADOW OF MY FATHER
Gotti Goes Glam: Travolta to Play Crime Boss as Celebrity, Victimâ€”But What of Lohan?
By Daniel D'Addario
"John Gotti, Sr., is an icon. Like it or not, he's an icon. The man is legendary. And so is John Travolta."
Marc Fiore, producer of the yet-to-be-filmed mobster biopic Gotti: Three Generations, spoke to a roomful of journalists at the midtown Sheraton Hotel about one of the two stars signed to his film. It will begin shooting in October. Mr. Travolta is to play John Gotti, Sr. (whose actual name was John Gotti, Jr., and whose son is John A. Gotti, but who was thus represented at the press conference). Mr. Travolta said he would prepare for the film by "watching as much video of the man as I can take. I need to know how a syndicate like this worksâ€”I need a better understanding of that." The technical knowledge required to run the Gambino crime family aside, Mr. Travolta sees Gotti, Sr., as something of a prototypical celebrity: "He charmed his fans. And there's mystery of what he was up toâ€”I like to play that."
Fiore Films is a new outfit, with only National Lampoon's One, Two Many to its credit thus far, but attracted Mr. Travolta, director Nick Cassavetes (of Alpha Dog, The Notebook, and being John Cassavetes' son), and Joe Pesci, the other star signed to the film (he is to play Angelo Ruggiero, Gotti, Sr.'s deputy). Mr. Pesci was not present, but Lindsay Lohan, who is circling a role, sat silently next to the Gotti family. "I've always thought she was gorgeous, and talented, and filled with a lot of... depth," said Mr. Travolta, though publicists were clear that it was premature to speak of Ms. Lohan's casting as a fait accompli. She hadn't been signed yetâ€”and might have more pressing engagements in the offing!
"I was raised in visiting rooms of various prisons around the country," said John Gotti, Jr., who chose to make himself and his family available for interview with what Mr. Fiore called "the writing team" in order to guarantee an accurate portrayal. "He was a killer, he was a gangsterâ€”but he was a man's man, which is really important. He paid for every sin that he may or may not have committed."
The mood in the room tended towards lionization of John Gotti, Sr., who died a prisoner in 2002. "To live this life," said Mr. Cassavettes, "we have to live in relationship to the government. Every time he went on trial and wonâ€”we won." Do his victims (recall, the conviction, after years of beating the rap, came for murder) think of the film? John Gotti, Jr. seemed impatient. "In this script, everybody's a victim. And you'll see it."