Monday, December 11, 2017

How John Gotti Whacked The American Mafia

Sean Cunningham interviewed veteran organized crime reporter and author George Anastasia (seen in the bottom photo) on the decline of Cosa Nostra in America at

Even in death, John Gotti (seen in the above FBI mugshot) suffers indignities. A Gotti biopic starring John Travolta and directed by Kevin Connolly (“E” from HBO’s Entourage) was scheduled to hit theaters on Dec. 15… only suddenly to be not only yanked from release but reportedly dumped by Lionsgate completely.

Travolta has since pushed back, insisting that it was actually a buyback that will allow for a wider release in 2018. Indeed, they now want the film to compete at Cannes. (It still needs to be submitted, much less accepted.)

This all feels oddly consistent with the Gotti story. By the time he died of throat cancer in 2002 at age 61, his nicknames seemed to mock rather than flatter him. The “Dapper Don” who bragged about wearing $1,800 suits gave up control of his wardrobe in 1992. That was the year he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole as the “Teflon Don” turned stickum. His conviction was particularly bitter since fellow defendant Sammy “The Bull” Gravano flipped on him. Thus Gotti, whose public flamboyance just dared the government to take him down… was taken down. And he remained down until his death.

Which was par for the course during an era when the mob was bold, aggressive, loud, treacherous, and often staggeringly inept, as if watching a season of The Sopranos in which every single character was Paulie Walnuts.

“It’s a dark comedy,” said George Anastasia. Anastasia spent decades documenting the mob in Philadelphia for the Inquirer, but also explored the “big stage” of New York with Gotti’s Rules: The Story of John Alite, Junior Gotti, and the Demise of the American Mafia. (Alite was a friend, enforcer and self-professed “babysitter” for Gotti Jr.)

… Anastasia noted that a Gotti associate turned informant summed it up pretty well: “Mikey Scars—Michael DiLeonardo—once said to me, ‘Cosa Nostra was this thing of ours. Johnny made it this thing of mine.’ That was the difference. He talked about Cosa Nostra but it was very egocentric.”

You can read the rest of the piece and watch a trailer from the film Gotti via the below link:

You can also read my Philadelphia Inquirer review of George Anastasia's Gotti Rules below:

Note: You can click on the above to enlarge.

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