Travolta dines with 'Junior' and buddies for Gotti biopic
By Josh Margolin, Bruce Golding, and Bob Fredericks
It was an offer John Travolta couldn't refuse -- a chance to play Mafia boss John Gotti in a biopic co-produced by the Dapper Don's son.
Travolta toasted the reel deal this week at trendy LA trattoria Amici -- a calamari confab with John "Junior" Gotti Jr. and his ex-con film-producer partner, Marc Fiore.
"Travolta is the guy," Fiore told The Post yesterday. "When you watch a Travolta movie, you're never watching John Travolta. John Gotti Sr. is an iconic figure. You have to be an actor that can become John Gotti Senior."
The Wednesday sit-down between the star and the late gangster's son was the kiss to seal the deal.
"John came in to put his stamp of approval," said Fiore, who once pleaded guilty in a multimillion-dollar pump-and-dump stock scam reminiscent of a "Sopranos" episode.
Gotti picked Travolta -- and little-known Fiore Films -- over Hollywood heavyweight Sylvester Stallone after the "Rocky" star balked at ceding creative control to Junior.
And in what could be a criminal case of miscasting, actor James Franco, of "127 Hours," is being considered to play Junior.
Although Travolta and Junior have talked about the movie -- to be called "Gotti" -- their sit-down was their first face-to-face meeting, Fiore said.
Each arrived separately at the Brentwood restaurant -- no bodyguards in sight -- and joined a Tinseltown crew, including director Nick Cassavetes, veteran character actor Leo Rossi, who is writing the script, and ex-Howard Stern sidekick "Stuttering" John Melendez, a partner in Fiore's film company.
"Get Shorty" star Travolta looked Chili Palmer cool in a tailored dark suit and blue silk open-collar shirt, while Junior donned a wiseguy-loud checked sports that his Dapper Don dad wouldn't have been caught dead in,
The restaurant, a Travolta favorite popular with Hollywood A-listers, shut its kitchen to regular customers as the gang scarfed down an "old-fashioned Italian dinner of seafood, chicken parm, steak, pasta and red wine."
An insider told The Post Travolta had made the reservation and hosted the dinner.
"They came, had a nice meal and a good conversation, lots of laughs, and they left happy," the insider said.
Fiore said he paid the dinner tab but invoked the Mafia code of omerta when asked how much it was.
But he was happy to boast about the film.
"This is not a movie; this is part of American history. We have the exclusive story for first time ever told by John Gotti Junior and his family," Fiore said.
Junior, the one-time heir apparent to his dad's criminal empire -- and a man the feds have tried and failed four times to convict for racketeering and murder -- has maintained he is long retired from the mob.
But Fiore -- executive producer for "Gotti" -- glories in his own criminal past, and is producing another film, "MOB $TREET," inspired by his story.
Fiore and eight other brokers were charged with operating a "boiler room" in which callers used deceptive, high-pressure sales tactics to swindle small-time investors out of their meager nest eggs.
For that, he did time at the federal prison in Allenwood, Pa. He said that history was key to him building a bond with Junior, who was impressed that Fiore never turned snitch.
"One of the things that gave him a comfort level with me is I didn't take the easy way out -- rat on whoever," Fiore said.
"MOB $TREET," due out in a year, is being written by Chazz Palminteri.
Early reviews for "Gotti," meanwhile, are mixed.
Mob lawyer Gerald Shargel said yesterday, "It's an interesting project. I think Travolta would be perfectly appropriate."
But a law-enforcement source was dubious.
"The movie is spinning toward ridiculousness," the source said. "James Franco is 20 times better looking than Junior."
Longtime Gotti nemesis Curtis Sliwa, meanwhile, had a warning for Travolta.
"No doubt sitting on the set with John Gotti Junior, Travolta's likely to find a horse's head in his bed if he doesn't toe the line," said Sliwa, who was allegedly shot by Junior's henchmen in 1992.