Monday, June 18, 2018

Gotti Movie with John Travolta Gets Whacked by Critics and Public; Worst Movie of the Year?

After an extremely bumpy road into theaters, the John Travolta crime biopic “Gotti” has gotten kneecapped at the box office, earning just $1.67 million from 503 screens.

While almost all of Travolta’s films in the last 30 years have been either in extremely limited release or with screen counts of 2,500 or more, this counts as the worst opening for the actor since the 1991 film “Shout,” which opened to $1.61 million on 968 screens and was considered one of the star’s biggest pre-“Pulp Fiction” flops. But “Gotti” hasn’t been able to find similar success this weekend, posting a per-screen average of just $3,320. Analysts told TheWrap prior to this weekend that “Gotti” needed to make around $3 million — or a $6,000 PSA — to be considered a successful launch.

The Vertical Entertainment and MoviePass Ventures release, starring Travolta as the late Mafia boss John Gotti, had trouble long before is snagged a rare zero percent Rotten Tomatoes score.

With 28 executive producers credited, “Gotti” bounced in and out of the hands of three directors before “Entourage” actor Kevin Connolly seized the project. When Lionsgate wanted to give the film a day-and-date theatrical/digital release, production studio Emmett Furla Oasis Films bought the film back, with Vertical and MoviePass picking up the rights.

MoviePass, the bargain movie ticket subscription service, has a stake in this film as it is trying to prove that it can successfully draw its subscribers to smaller films by marketing to them through their service’s app. MoviePass got off to a good start on this venture with this month’s release of The Orchard’s “American Animals,” which has grossed $760,000 with a maximum screen count of 72.

By comparison, “American Animals” had a third weekend per screen average of $2,871, while the critically acclaimed documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” posted a PSA of $10,253 in its second weekend, earning just under $1 million from 96 screens.

The film over-indexed in New York and Los Angeles, where the distributor focused most of its modest marketing budget and where MoviePass has a large number of subscribers.

Aside from its launch at the Cannes Film Festival, critics had few opportunities to see the film. 23 reviews have been logged on Rotten Tomatoes, all of them negative. While the film’s audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes sits at 79 percent, that big critical goose egg is still on the site’s front page, serving as a potential repellent for moviegoers. And the reviews themselves are pretty ugly too.

“Starring in this mobster biopic that deserves to get whacked is an offer Travolta should have refused,” Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers said in a particularly acidic review. “Insane testimonials from Gotti supporters at the end are as close as this s—show will ever get to good reviews.”
Reviewing the pic for The New York Times, critic Glenn Kenny writes, “That the long-gestating crime drama Gotti is a dismal mess comes as no surprise. What does shock is just how multifaceted a dismal mess it is.”
Jordan Mintzer’s assessment for The Hollywood Reporter cautions, “The film is pretty terrible: poorly written, devoid of tension, ridiculous in spots and just plain dull in others.”

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Who is the Boss of the Chicago Outfit in 2018?

Now that John "No Nose" DiFronzo is no longer running the Chicago Outfit, who will fill the void left by his death is an open question.

As the ABC7 I-Team first reported, DiFronzo died from complications of Alzheimer's. He was 89.

"This is obviously an organization that promotes from within" said Chicago mob expert John Binder. "They don't take ads in the Wall Street Journal announcing a job search."

Although illicit businesses such as the Outfit don't have open meetings or put out annual reports, there are internal rules and succession plans in place to deal with the death of the boss-whether it occurs naturally or at the end of a gun barrel as was the case with Sam "Momo" Giancana in 1975.

DiFronzo's declining health the past few years may have allowed the mob to restructure its upper crust in anticipation of his death. The top two spots in the Outfit are now thought to be occupied by one infamous gangland name and one less recognized.

Salvatore "Solly D" DeLaurentis is the best known, un-incarcerated Chicago mob figure today-and considered "consigliere" to the Outfit.

DeLaurentis, 79, was released from federal prison in 2006 after serving a long sentence for racketeering, extortion and tax fraud. The north suburban resident is notorious for using the phrase "trunk music." That is the gurgling sound made by a decomposing corpse in a car trunk.

These days ex-con DeLaurentis claims he has gone clean--literally.

"I'm in the carpet cleaning business," DeLaurentis told the I-Team. He laughed off those who said he was the boss or involved in mob rackets at all and said the FBI should know that because the bureau monitors his activities.

DeLaurentis has long been a mob-denier. "The Outfit is like a group that comes in here to paint the walls" he told investigative reporter Chuck Goudie during a 1993 interview. "It's the painting outfit."

During that television interview conducted at the federal lock-up in Chicago, DeLaurentis said he was "a bricklayer by trade" and a part-time gambler. "We gamble" he said "but as far as Mafia, I don't know what that is."

GOUDIE: "So you contend that if there is a Chicago Outfit it's an outfit of gamblers?"
DELAURENTIS: "Yea. Right. An outfit of guys who gamble. If they were any other kind of businessmen they'd be in the chamber of commerce."

The new head of the FBI in Chicago disagrees with statement's that there is no mob-or that it is washed up.

"Are they out there leaving people dead in the streets?" asks FBI special agent in charge Jeffrey Sallet. "No. But just because people aren't killing somebody doesn't mean that they don't represent a threat" Sallet said. "Mob guys or Outfit guys-whatever you want to call them-are resilient. Where there is an opportunity to make money, they will engage. The reason they don't kill people the same way they did 25 years ago is because it's bad for business."

The second in command of the Chicago Outfit, according to some mobwatchers, is convicted enforcer Albert "Albie the Falcon" Vena, 69. The squat Vena did beat a murder charge in 1992 after the killing of a syndicate-connected drug dealer. He is thought to oversee day-to-day operations of the Outfit.

Vena is a protégé of notorious West Side mob boss Joey "the Clown" Lombardo, who is imprisoned for life following conviction in the 2007 Family Secrets mob murder case.

Regardless of what some see as an evolving line-up atop the Chicago mob, defense attorney Joe Lopez, who has represented numerous top hoodlums, says the Outfit is a thing of the past.

"I don't think anybody is ruling the roost. I think the roost was closed" Lopez told the I-Team.

He disputes that DeLaurentis has succeeded John DiFronzo. "He's old too" said Lopez, who proudly carries his own nickname "The Shark." Lopez said that Chicago mob leaders "became obsolete" and were put out of business by the "digital revolution has changed the entire world." Other mob experts differ.

"The outfit is a criminal enterprise, it's still functioning" said John Binder, author of "The Chicago Outfit" book. Binder maintains that the mob has a working relationship with Chicago street gangs. He says the Outfit is "involved in the wholesaling and to some extent importation" of cocaine and heroin that gangs sell on city streets. "Just because it's not the Outfit guys standing on the West Side or South Side selling it doesn't mean they aren't actively involved in making a lot of money off of narcotics themselves."

Thanks to Chuck Goudie, Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Ross Weidner.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Al Capone's Beer Wars: A Complete History of Organized Crime in Chicago during Prohibition

Al Capone's Beer Wars: A Complete History of Organized Crime in Chicago during Prohibition.

Although much has been written about Al Capone, there has not been--until now--a complete history of organized crime in Chicago during Prohibition. This exhaustively researched book covers the entire period from 1920 to 1933. Author John J. Binder, a recognized authority on the history of organized crime in Chicago, discusses all the important bootlegging gangs in the city and the suburbs and also examines the other major rackets, such as prostitution, gambling, labor and business racketeering, and narcotics.

A major focus is how the Capone gang -- one of twelve major bootlegging mobs in Chicago at the start of Prohibition--gained a virtual monopoly over organized crime in northern Illinois and beyond. Binder also describes the fight by federal and local authorities, as well as citizens' groups, against organized crime. In the process, he refutes numerous myths and misconceptions related to the Capone gang, other criminal groups, the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, and gangland killings.

What emerges is a big picture of how Chicago's underworld evolved during this period. This broad perspective goes well beyond Capone and specific acts of violence and brings to light what was happening elsewhere in Chicagoland and after Capone went to jail.

Based on 25 years of research and using many previously unexplored sources, this fascinating account of a bloody and colorful era in Chicago history will become the definitive work on the subject.

Chicago: The Real Story - The Story of #Chicago the Media Won't Tell



What makes Chicago one of the best cities in the world for some, but one of the most violent in the world for others? Colion Noir goes to Chicago—walks the streets the politicians avoid, and talks to the people the media will never feature—to get the real story. Media perceptions and influences. Politics. Identity. Pop-culture. Instagram. Backgrounds. The glorification of gangs. Economics. Modern segregation. History. Jobs. Education. These are the chapters that make up Chicago: The Real Story. And Colion Noir reads them without fear, finding truth through interviews with Karim Shakir, owner of Hyde Park Barber Studio; Dave Jeff of PHLI, Inc.; Leonard "GLC" Harris, Hip-Hop artist and community organizer; and Chip Eberhart, Master Instructor of Top Shot Academy.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Gangland Hit Attempt and Ensuing Gun Battle Results in 7 shot in Chicago Area Kids Birthday Party

A gang-related shootout at a kid’s birthday party in the suburbs of Chicago early Sunday left seven wounded, one critically, authorities said.

Investigators said the shooters arrived on bikes and on foot, fired multiple shots, then fled north on Grand Avenue in Aurora, Illinois, WGN reported.

“The only suspect information we were able to gather is that the shots were fired by several males dressed in dark hooded sweatshirts,” police told The Aurora Patch on Sunday. “It also appears that someone at the party returned fire.”

Police arrived at the scene shortly after midnight to find six wounded; the seventh victim had been driven to the hospital by a relative.

According to The Chicago Sun-Times, the victims were five men, ages 21, two 22-year-olds, a 25-year-old and a 28-year-old.  Two woman ages 27 and 30 also were shot. The 21-year-old man is in critical condition.

On Facebook, the Aurora Police Department requested anyone with information about the shooting to call Aurora Police at 630-256-5500 or Aurora Area Crime Stoppers at 630-892-1000.

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