Thursday, October 19, 2017

10 Years Later, Frank Vincent's @ChicagoOvercoat, is Still Finding New Audiences, Watch it Free!

On September 29, 2007, a group of young filmmakers just out of Columbia College began principal photography on their first feature film. They penned an ambitious script written from the perspective
of men in their sixties looking back at their lives with regret. In order to get the green light, the team needed to attach a star, so they sent the script to acclaimed actor Frank Vincent. Frank loved the character and signed on to the project despite the age of the crew, and the rest was history.

Chicago Overcoat, stars Frank as Lou Marazano, an aging mob hit man who tries to do right by his family and get back a piece of the glory days. Kathrine Narducci (The Sopranos) co-stars as Frank’s on-again, offagain girlfriend, along with veteran actors Danny Goldring (Boss) as a tenacious homicide detective and Mike Starr (Dumb and Dumber) as a no-nonsense street boss. The cast also features Emmy Award winner Armand Assante (American Gangster) and Golden Globe winner Stacy Keach (American History X).

After premiering at the Chicago International Film Festival in 2009, Chicago Overcoat got picked up by Showtime in 2010. The movie was then released on Redbox, Netflix, Amazon, Blockbuster Express, iTunes, and Hulu, to name a few. Most recently, Chicago Overcoat became available to stream for free to all Amazon Prime members, where it is now finding yet another audience.

Chicago Overcoat Free on Amazon Prime.

The tenth anniversary of principal photography is a bittersweet occasion for the cast and crew, as it follows the news of Frank’s passing on September 13 due to complications from heart surgery. The team was gearing up to commemorate the occasion when they learned about Frank. “The world lost a legend, and I lost a personal hero,” said writer/producer John W. Bosher. “Frank is truly missed.”

Frank’s distinguished career has included memorable performances in such iconic films as Raging Bull (1980), Wise Guys (1986), Do the Right Thing (1989), Goodfellas (1990), Jungle Fever (1991), Casino (1995), and Cop Land (1997), in addition to his co-starring role as Phil Leotardo on HBO’s The Sopranos (2004-2007), for which he received a Screen Actors Guild Award for “Outstanding
Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series” in 2008.

Frank’s rare starring role in Chicago Overcoat gave him an opportunity to truly shine, and his performance earned the praise of many critics, including Bill Zwecker of the Chicago Sun-Times, Reece Pendleton of Chicago Reader, and Rob Christopher of The Chicagoist. In Variety’s review, critic Alissa Simon noted that Chicago Overcoat “boasts the most charismatic mafia murderer since Tony Soprano...” Frank also received a “Best Actor” nomination at Italy’s Milano International Film Festival Awards in 2010.

But to the Chicago Overcoat team, Frank was much more than a movie star. “We became quite close with Frank and his wife over the years,” said associate producer/casting director Chris Charles. “And we had plans to work together on other projects.” Looking back at Chicago Overcoat, the group also recognizes that Frank was one of the major reasons for the film’s success, which ultimately helped launch their careers. “Frank really took a chance with us,” Chris added. “And we’ll never forget it.”

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

3 #MS13 Members Plead Guilty in Savage Death of Teen Girl in Gangland Revenge Killing

Three MS-13 affiliates pleaded guilty to their roles in the savage death of a teenage Virginia girl in what prosecutors say was a gangland-style revenge killing.

As part of a deal with prosecutors, Cindy Blanco Hernandez, 19, Aldair J. Miranda Carcamo, 18, and Emerson Fugon Lopez, 17, pleaded guilty to a host of charges that included abduction and in two instances, gang participation. The three will be key witnesses in the trials of three other gang members charged with directly killing 15-year-old Damaris A. Reyes Rivas.

The January killing of Reyes Rivas, which ultimately resulted in the arrest of 18 young people, galvanized the country and highlighted the brutal nature of one of the nation’s most violent and powerful street gangs.

According to the prosecution, Reyes Rivas was taken to a Virginia park, where she was stabbed with a knife and jabbed with a stick by a large group of MS-13 members. Her body eventually was discovered after it was dumped under a highway overpass on the outskirts of Washington, DC.

FBI agent Fernando Uribe testified in July that Jose Cerrato, a 17-year-old alleged gang member, filmed and narrated the killing on a cellphone with the intention of sending the footage to MS-13 leaders in El Salvador. It’s unclear if the video was ever sent to El Salvador, but Uribe testified that Cerrato was promoted in the gang for his role in the murder, the Washington Post reported.

Reyes Rivas allegedly was killed as revenge for the death of 21-year-old Christian Sosa Rivas. Sosa Rivas was killed around New Year’s Eve after he purportedly was lured to a local park by Reyes Rivas. Some of the eight people charged in connection with his death are believed to have thought Sosa Rivas was a member of a rival gang who was claiming to be an MS-13 member, and the defendants’ purpose was “gaining entrance to and maintaining and increasing position in MS-13 according to the Justice Department.”

Reyes Rivas’ killing was uncovered when investigators found the videos of her killing while looking into Sosa Rivas’ death.

According to testimony by Uribe, 17-year-old Venus Romero Iraheta, an alleged MS-13 cohort and girlfriend of Sosa Rivas, blamed Reyes Rivas for luring Sosa Rivas to his death before stabbing her in the neck with a knife 13 times.

Wilmer A. Sanchez Serrano, 21, another MS-13 affiliate, is accused of stabbing Reyes Rivas in the neck with a sharpened stick.

MS-13, which has become a major focus of President Trump’s Justice Department, was founded more than two decades ago in Southern California by immigrants fleeing El Salvador’s civil war. Its founders took lessons learned from the brutal conflict to the streets of Los Angeles, and built a reputation as one of the most ruthless and sophisticated street gangs in the country.

With as many as 10,000 members in 46 states, the gang has expanded beyond its initial and local roots and members have been convicted of crimes ranging from kidnapping and murder to drug smuggling and human trafficking, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Jason Shatarsky told the Associated Press.

The gang now has a large presence in Southern California, Washington, DC, and many rural areas on the East Coast with substantial Salvadoran populations like the Carolinas. And in any community where the gang operates, its members often prey on their own people, targeting residents and business owners for extortion, among other crimes.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Sopranos Family Cookbook: As Compiled by Artie Bucco #NationalPastaDay

Nuovo Vesuvio. The "family" restaurant, redefined. Home to the finest in Napolitan' cuisine and Essex County's best kept secret. Now Artie Bucco, la cucina's master chef and your personal host, invites you to a special feast...with a little help from his friends, The Sopranos Family Cookbook: As Compiled by Artie Bucco. From arancini to zabaglione, from baccala to Quail Sinatra-style, Artie Bucco and his guests, the Sopranos and their associates, offer food lovers one hundred Avellinese-style recipes and valuable preparation tips. But that's not all!

Artie also brings you a cornucopia of precious Sopranos artifacts that includes photos from the old country; the first Bucco's Vesuvio's menu from 1926; AJ's school essay on "Why I Like Food"; Bobby Bacala's style tips for big eaters, and much, much more.

So share the big table with:

  • Tony Soprano, waste management executive "Most people soak a bagful of discount briquettes with lighter fluid and cook a pork chop until it's shoe leather and think they're Wolfgang Puck." Enjoy his tender Grilled Sausages sizzling with fennel or cheese. Warning: Piercing the skin is a fire hazard. 
  • Corrado "Junior" Soprano, Tony's uncle "Mama always cooked. No one died of too much cholesterol or some such crap." Savor his Pasta Fazool, a toothsome marriage of cannellini beans and ditalini pasta, or Giambott', a grand-operatic vegetable medley. 
  • Carmela Soprano, Tony's wife "If someone were sick, my inclination would be to send over a pastina and ricotta. It's healing food." Try her Baked Ziti, sinfully enriched with three cheeses, and her earthy 'Shcarole with Garlic. 
  • Peter Paul "Paulie Walnuts" Gualtieri, associate of Tony Soprano "I have heard that Eskimos have fifty words for snow. We have five hundred words for food." Sink your teeth into his Eggs in Purgatory-eight eggs, bubbling tomato sauce, and an experience that's pure heaven. 

As Artie says, "Enjoy, with a thousand meals and a thousand laughs. Buon' appetito!"

The Sopranos Family Cookbook: As Compiled by Artie Bucco.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Former Staffer to Ex-U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman (R) Pleads Guilty to Extensive Fraud and Money Laundering Scheme

A former congressional staffer pleaded guilty for his role in  orchestrating a scheme to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from charitable foundations and the individuals who ran those foundations to pay for personal expenses and to illegally finance a former congressman’s campaigns for public office, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez of the Southern District of Texas.
Jason T. Posey, 46, formerly of Houston, and currently residing in Mississippi, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering before Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal of the Southern District of Texas. Sentencing is set for March 29, 2018.

According to admissions made in connection with Posey’s plea, Posey served as director of special projects and treasurer of the congressional campaign committee for former U.S. Congressman Stephen E. Stockman, 60, of the Houston, Texas area, from in or around January 2013 until in or around November 2013. Posey admitted that, at Stockman’s direction, he and another congressional staffer, Thomas Dodd, 38, of the Houston, Texas area, illegally funneled $15,000 of charitable proceeds into Stockman’s campaign bank account and caused the campaign to file reports with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that falsely stated that the money was a contribution from their parents and from the staffers themselves. According to Posey’s admissions, Stockman also directed Posey to send a letter to a charitable donor that falsely stated that the donor’s $350,000 donation had been used to support a charitable endeavor, when in fact the funds were actually used for other purposes, including Stockman’s campaigns for public office.

In connection with his plea, Posey also admitted that he and Stockman raised $450,571.65 to support Stockman’s 2014 Senate campaign by falsely representing to a donor that the funds would be used to support a legitimate independent expenditure by an independent advocacy group Posey created. In fact, Posey admitted that Stockman personally directed and supervised the activities of the purportedly independent group, including the printing and mailing of hundreds of thousands of copies of a pro-Stockman publication to Texas voters. Posey also admitted that he submitted a false affidavit to the FEC in order to conceal the scheme.

Dodd pleaded guilty on March 20 to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to make illegal conduit contributions and false statements to the FEC. Stockman’s trial is scheduled to begin on Jan. 29, 2018.

Friday, October 06, 2017

A Treasury of Advice and Maxims from Hugh Hefner in Hef's Little Black Book

The legendary founder of Playboy magazine, Hugh Hefner invites you into his world with Hef's Little Black Book, an illustrated treasury of advice and maxims.

The only book ever written by the iconic publisher and unabashed hedonist, Hef's Little Black Book, features a new, updated Afterword from Hef himself.

Dedicated Playboy readers and fans of The Girls Next Door, the hit reality TV series that takes you behind the doors of the Playboy Mansion, will not want to miss this fantastic guide to the very good life from the man who lived it better than anyone.

Hef's Little Black Book.