One of the most intriguing characters to ever come out of Chicago will be the focus of a major HBO miniseries, executive produced by legendary Hollywood player Robert Evans.
Based on ''The Devil and Sidney Korshak,'' Nick Tosches' recent story in Vanity Fair, the six-hour miniseries will showcase the life and times of Korshak, the reputed mob lawyer who used his amazing network of connections to labor leaders, politicians, Hollywood and Las Vegas moguls and key members of the Mafia to become one of the nation's true power brokers during much of the last half of the 20th century.
''I consider him the godfather's godfather,'' Evans told Daily Variety, explaining how Korshak helped make possible one of the best movies ever filmed.
When Evans headed Paramount, he faced two huge obstacles to getting Mario Puzo's novel The Godfather turned into a film. MGM wouldn't release Al Pacino from a commitment to film ''The Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight,'' and the crime syndicate threatened to kill Evans if he made ''The Godfather'' in New York.
Korshak quickly solved both problems.
According to Evans, the attorney phoned Kirk Kerkorian, the head of MGM, and hinted there might be delays on building the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Vegas -- unless the studio released Pacino.
As for the mob threats? ''That problem went away with one phone call from Sidney. Not two phone calls -- one phone call,'' Evans said.
No word yet on who will play Korshak, a mysterious figure whose powerful pals ranged from Hollywood titan Lew Wasserman to Henry Kissinger.
While Korshak left Chicago for California in the 1940s, he remained very close to his brother Marshall Korshak, the late state senator and father of Margie Korshak, owner of one of Chicago's best-known public relations firms. Sidney died only one day after Marshall in 1996.
In his memoir The Kid Stays in the Picture: A Notorious Life -- itself turned into a critically acclaimed documentary -- Evans summed up Korshak's immense power:
''Let's just say that a nod from Korshak and the Teamsters change management. A nod from Korshak and Santa Anita [race track] closes. A nod from Korshak and Vegas shuts down. A nod from Korshak and the Dodgers can suddenly play night baseball.''
Thanks to Bill Zwecker
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