Junior Lends Film His Father's Jewelry, Car

John A. Gotti aka Junior is lending Travolta his father's personal items for a film about John Gotti Senior.

John Gotti, former Gambino crime family boss, died in prison of cancer in 2002 at the age of 61. His son, former Gambino crime family boss John A. Gotti (aka "Junior"), says he left Cosa Nostra life in the dust many years ago.

If John Junior is eyeing any kind of mob these days, it's the one based on the West Coast, aka Hollywood. High-caliber star John Travolta will play the Dapper Don in the upcoming production based on Junior's self-published book Shadow of My Father.

Junior claims he wrote the manuscript in response to the release of another book, George Anastasia's Gotti's Rules, based on the life and prodigious crimes of former Gambino enforcer John Alite.

Gotti says his father would not have approved of him writing a book -- never mind a film. Junior is working with Fiore Films to incorporate material from Shadow of My Father into the movie. With the blessing of his mother, Junior is lending Travolta some of his father's famous ties and jewelry as well as his car.

Kevin Connolly of Entourage is directing.

I commend John Junior for paying no heed to inflammatory news reports that gained steam last September postulating that John Travolta is a homosexual. Whether he is or isn't is entirely the actor's own business.
Screen icon John Travolta will play John Gotti Senior.

In one of the more bizarre stories I have seen regarding this topic, called John Travolta Is Not Legally Gay (what the hell does that mean?) I learned a bit more about the allegation.

"Now--and not for the first time--someone is projecting homosexuality onto Travolta," one website reported.

It adds that Travolta is fighting a legal battle "to keep a former employee's alleged revelations about an alleged gay relationship with the actor from seeing daylight." 

Travolta contends the former employee is bound by a confidentiality agreement (love to see a copy of it, by the way...). The former employee, however, denies that the agreement is legally binding and is seeking to speak openly about his alleged time with Travolta, according to the Hollywood Reporter

"One thing is absolutely assured: Travolta will have the more high-powered legal team," the first quoted article said. 

"This is every celebrity's Achilles heel. It's just about people wanting money," Travolta told the Daily Beast.

Travolta's lawyer Martin Singer has warned this former employee to "proceed at his peril," according to The Independent. For speaking out, he faces a fine of "tens of millions of dollars."

The Star even ran a story about a possible divorce for the Travoltas, complete with exclamation point, over the gay rumors:
Through 23 years of marriage, Kelly Preston has firmly stood by her husband, John Travolta, despite enduring sordid allegations about his unwanted sexual advances toward men. Yet it appears to be John who has had enough of their marriage, and he may soon be filing for divorce!

In an earlier version of this story, I noted that I believed that the Gotti family had provided some level of input as to the script for the HBO Gotti film released in the 1990s. That film was loosely based on Jerry Capeci and Gene Mustain's Gotti: Rise and Fall. Rather that spend all night reconstructing why I believe what I initially wrote, I'll offer a different and more interesting angle.

While researching that HBO production, I came across an interesting interview John A. Gotti provided to the AP in 2010, run on CBS's new site.

Gotti said previous movies about his family were mostly false because they relied on accounts from journalists or government agents. The HBO movie about his father, “Gotti” from 1996, was probably the most accurate of them all, he said, “and even that missed the mark by at least 40 percent.” 
“The opportunity presented itself to clear up a lot of inaccuracies,” Gotti said. “Now, to do it for the big screen, which I’d never imagined, automatically it’s appetizing.
“This is not a mob story. That’s one misconception,” he continued. “This is a father-son story.” 
Gotti said he envisions the film beginning with the final meeting he had with his father in 1999, when he told the senior Gotti he was walking away from the business. At the time, his father was suffering from throat cancer and serving a life sentence in prison for racketeering; he died in 2002 at age 61. The younger Gotti himself was being incarcerated at the time for bribery and extortion. 
“It was the first time we’d had contact in seven years — the first time we’d touched each other in seven years,” he said. And because it was a government-ordered meeting, all 90 minutes of it were captured on tape.
“Anyone sitting and watching that last video between a father and a son, there’s no way they can walk away with dry eyes,” he said. 
As for casting, he says he doesn’t care who plays him. Gotti said Armand Assante’s portrayal of his father in the HBO movie was “70 percent accurate … I never saw him flail his arms or kick garbage cans. 
“This man spent the last 10 years of his life in solitary confinement, alone. He spent the last month of his life chained, shackled to a bed, emaciated by cancer,” Gotti said. “The man stayed true to his code to his last breath.” 
Gotti says he’s never seen “The Sopranos,” but he understands the fascination with the “Godfather” trilogy — at least, the first two films. 
“People love it because it’s so different from the average, everyday American family, yet maybe not so different,” he said. “I make dinner and my family has to be there every Sunday … I don’t care what they do the rest of the week, that’s what we do. We’re a pretty normal family with kids running all over the place. We have opinions, we have arguments, we have joy.” 

Then I found, free of charge, amazingly, a Gangland News story about the HBO film in which Jerry Capeci gives Hollywood some great insight into how to make a good mob film by explaining what he'd have done differently about the Gotti film.

We would have narrowed the time frame. We would have ended it in the same place, with Gotti's conviction, but started it only nine years earlier, when several of Gotti's men -- including his best friend and his brother -- were arrested for dealing heroin.

Those arrests triggered everything that happened in the Gambino family and to Gotti from there on out. The then boss of the family had forbidden drug dealing under a penalty of death, not because he was such a noble sort, but because he feared the harsh sentences available to prosecutors in drug cases would encourage gangsters to become informers.

The arrests put pressure on a fault line that existed between two wings of the family. Without them, a plot against the boss nominally in charge of both wings might not have taken off. Without the plot, which Gotti engineered, the spectacular double murder that shot him to power might not have occurred. But all of it did occur, and it's the stuff of a good drama -- conflict, crisis, confrontation, resolution.

In "Gotti," the story is so shoehorned it's hard to follow. Instead, we get comparatively unimportant scenes about an early murder in Gotti's career, about the time he served in prison for that murder and about Carlo Gambino, the family patriarch, who died in 1976.

As we said before, however, "Gotti" is still worth watching. By himself, Assante will keep you tuned in. He preens, fulimates, growls, explodes -- just like Gotti. To its credit, HB0 took on a tough subject -- as it has before, with Roy Cohn, Stalin and Jackie Presser -- and came up with a film that's close to the way it was. We shudder to think what a traditional Hollywood studio would have concocted out of the same material.