Sammy The Bull Gravano Reality Television Series Debuted On MTV

Video clips from the first episode are below...
Salvatore (Sammy the Bull) Gravano, the former underboss for the Gambino crime family, is appearing on the new MTV reality TV series Families of the Mafia with his daughter Karen Gravano and granddaughter Karina Seabrook.

Sammy the Bull appears on MTV tonight.

Gravano, now 75, was released early from federal prison in 2017 after serving most of a 20-year sentence for drug-related convictions in Arizona and New York. At the time, Arizona Department of Corrections officials said, Gravano was released from the state prison system the previous year but was incarcerated federally until then. Authorities said Gravano will be on federal parole for the rest of his life.

In the past, Gravano confessed to involvement in 19 murders. He later became a government informant in 1991 and helped bring down 39 mobsters, including the family’s boss John Gotti, by testifying against him.

Karen Gravano, 47, recently spoke about what made her father say yes to reality TV, what life is like for the ex-mobster today, as well as what viewers (and critics) can expect from Families of the Mafia.

What made your father say yes to a reality TV show?
Karen Gravano: I had to cook him a lot of good meals *laughs*. You know, I think when he came home, he wanted to rebuild his relationship with my daughter. He pretty much spent most of her life in prison. And seeing that I’ve done shows and a book before, he supported me.

I also sat down with him and explained exactly what this is is going to be about. It’s not like he came out [of prison] and then wanted to do reality TV. We were filming and I was like, “You’re such a big part of my life, my story. This is who we are. Let’s share our experience with others.” Once I explained to him in that way he agreed and wanted to support me.

What’s life like for your father today?
Gravano: You know, he’s finally taking it slowly one day at a time. He’s older now and did over 18 years in prison. So when he came back home, life was just so different. The world is so different. He had to see things in a new light, like telephones and social media. He’s keeping busy and working on his own projects, but he’s just taking it day-by-day and enjoying life.

Is there anything about life in 2020 that has surprised him?
Gravano: He’s just amazed by social media and YouTube…. He’ll always say, “Don’t kids go outside and play kickball anymore?” When I was growing up, we would always have Sunday dinners at my grandparents’ house. That was mandatory. You couldn’t have any other plans. Spending time with your family was non-negotiable. You couldn’t just go upstairs and be in front of the computer while having dinner. Phones were never at the table. That’s completely different for him.

Your daughter didn’t have much a relationship with your father, but it seems like things will change in the show.
Gravano: When I was growing up, my father and I had a great relationship. He was so involved in my life. I wanted my daughter Karina to experience that and know that about him. I wanted her to have more than just a 15-minute phone call or sitting across from him at a table with the guards sitting right next to us. I wanted her to build a relationship with my father and get to know him on a more personal level than just hear everything that the media has to say about him or even the good side of everything that I told her. I just wanted her to experience it and learn it for herself.

Back when you were on “Mob Wives” your father wasn’t thrilled with the idea of you participating in a show like that. How have things changed since then?
Gravano: When we did “Mob Wives” it was such a new concept. Remember, I never even said the word “mob” in our household. It was such a secret society. It was something you never talked about in the household. So when we did “Mob Wives,” we were basically lifting the curtain.

And I remember so many people freaked out over that. There were a lot of fistfights in the show and my father never liked that. He would always say, “Gangsters would never act like that.” I would get that comment all the time *laughs*. But when he finally came home, I really got the chance to sit down with him and explain why I was doing this. And eventually, he got it. But he still says. “You know, this is different.” But I think at the end of the day, he would prefer me to do this than something else.

In the beginning, everyone was like “Oh my God, you’re going to dredge all this stuff up from the past.” But he learned that I embraced my past. I learned from our mistakes. This is who I am no matter what. People will always judge me because of my name. So instead of hiding from that, I want young people to learn from our mistakes and hopefully learn from it. Or maybe they will just see how important it is to have a relationship with your family. Some people still tell me, “How could you expose your daughter to your past?” But how could I not? At the end of the day, I want her to be better than me. Isn’t that what all parents want for their children? I want her to learn from my mistakes.

You’ve been very candid about your family and your past. How are things for you today?
Gravano: I think things have leveled through. Reality TV has become a way of life for the last couple of years. I also have my own personal businesses, like [a] restaurant. I’m a hustler in a good sense. I love to keep pushing through and keep doing new things. Reality TV has been kind of a springboard for certain different projects. I’m just trying to do everything I can in a positive way and provide for my family.

What are some misconceptions you feel people still have about your family?
Gravano: That we glorify this lifestyle. But the reality is that was our past. We’re just trying to learn from our mistakes. And I’m not scared to talk about it. This is what happened. I’m not afraid to say I screwed up. I don’t want the same mistakes to be made by other people, especially those I love and care about.

Some critics still insist you’re making light of organized crime with reality TV. What would you tell them?
Gravano: Watch the show (laughs). I think there will always be critics, especially for me because of my father and the lifestyle I grew up in. But I’ve always said that my goal is to show you the struggles we went through as a family. My father, he spent all these years in prison. And his thing is that this is not a way for kids. This is not something that should be glorified and looked up to. It only leads to negative results at the end of the day. I can only speak for my family personally, but we’ve been through multiple kinds of situations. Yet we’ve remained a family unit. We’ve always had each other’s back no matter what. And that's what I think the critics should really be paying attention to. If you see the show, you’ll understand that.

What surprised you the most about the other families featured in this series?
Gravano: How incredibly candid they are. At least I’m not the only one. And these are all amazing families honestly who were willing to open up about the struggles they’re going through and how they want to make things right. It’s refreshing to hear someone say, “I went through this too.”

And when you see the parents with their children, you can tell how badly they want them to be better. I don’t think you need to be from the mafia to relate to these stories. We’re all just trying to be better. I commend the other families for opening up. It’s easy tZo get one person on reality TV. But it’s completely different when there’s a whole family involved. But they just put all their walls down.

“Families of the Mafia” premieres Thursday, April 9 at 9 p.m EST on MTV. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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