The Chicago Syndicate: Mob Wives
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Showing posts with label Mob Wives. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mob Wives. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Two Stars of @MobWives Told to Stay Far Away from Funeral of #BigAng

Two Mob Wives stars were told to stay far away from Big Ang's funeral this weekend, all because of a long-standing family drama.

Angela "Big Ang" Raiola died of cancer last Thursday, and her viewings and funeral were quickly planned for the weekend. But two of her co-stars were warned to stay away, and it's all over old beefs.

Brittany Fogarty and Karen Gravano were told "it's not a good idea" to attend any of Big Ang's services, a source told E! News. "It's just years of history between the fathers," the source said, adding, "It's a shame, but they understand to a point. No one wants to have conflict at a funeral."

What is that history? It's no secret that Mob Wives is about women whose families were active in the Mafia and how that has affected their families. Gravano's father, Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, turned federal witness — i.e., snitched — against Mafia kingpin John Gotti in exchange for immunity against 19 murder charges. He was placed in the Witness Protection Program and relocated under an alias to Arizona.

Fogarty's family was relocated to Pennsylvania when her father, John Fogarty, cooperated with the feds in exchange for keeping her mom out of prison when they were busted on RICO charges.

What this boils down to is that their fathers are considered rats — and there is nothing worse in the Mafia world than a rat. Fogarty and Gravano's presence at Big Ang's funeral could cause unnecessary drama within the old ranks of the families, and no one wanted to shift the focus away from the woman it should really be about. But this doesn't mean the two women aren't honoring their friend in their own ways. Gravano visited Big Ang at the hospital before she passed, telling E! she looked "beautiful."

In addition to releasing a beautiful statement about her friend, Fogarty shared another tribute to Big Ang on her Instagram page.

Big Ang was buried on Sunday.

Thanks to Caroline Goddard.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Drita D'avanzo of VH1's Mob Wives

Drita D'avanzo is the wife of Lee D'avanzo, who federal prosecutors allege is the leader of a Bonanno and Colombo crime family farm team. While Drita's husband is serving time in prison for bank robbery (for the second time), she is left alone raising two young girls, Aleeya (9) and Gizelle (3). Drita comes from a strict Albanian household who defied her parents and married someone outside the community -- an Italian.
Drita D'avanzo

Drita grew up different from the other women. She was raised in the projects of Staten Island after her family settled there from Albania. Her father, a strict soccer coach, raised her to be tough and play with the boys. She was never allowed to cry, and had to do hundreds of push-ups and sit-ups a day to meet her father's high standards. Drita was invited to play for the Women's National Soccer Team and was all set to go until she met her first love, "the streets".

She dated street guy after street guy until ultimately finding and marrying Lee. At first everything was great and she had everything she wanted. However, Lee was allegedly robbing banks (among other things), and before she gave birth to their first daughter, he was escorted away by the Feds for an 8 year prison term. Drita had their baby, and stood by her man -- who promised her that he would never leave her again.

During Lee's first prison sentence, Drita realized that she must do something to stand on her own two feet in case she is ever left in a position like this again. She studied to become a make-up artist and worked for various high end cosmetic companies while her husband was away. Almost eight years later Lee came home and they started over. They built a new home, made baby number two, and Lee even got a legitimate job. However the good times were short lived. Again, Lee was arrested and sentenced to prison for 2 -- 5 years for similar crimes. Needless to say, Drita was not happy. But, like so many times before, she picked up the pieces and carried on. As a mother of two with a husband in jail, she struggles to keep it all together while figuring out if this is a lifestyle she wants to continue to live. Currently, she freelances as a make-up artist and plans to develop her own cosmetic line.

Drita is tough as nails and infamous for her many fights and knock outs growing up. Now a mother, she struggles to control her anger and often feels nostalgic for times when a problem could be solved with a fist.

Renee Graziano of VH1's Mob Wives

Renee Graziano is the daughter of Anthony Graziano, who according to the Federal Government was a high ranking member of La Cosa Nostra. Renee grew up during the heyday of the mob -- when things still fell off trucks and people still dropped off envelopes even when it wasn't your birthday.

Immersed in the culture since birth, she embraced the lifestyle as her own and became a "mob loyalist".

Renee eventually married (then divorced) Junior. Together they have one son, AJ.

When Renee was young her best friend was arrested and sentenced to many years behind bars. This was her first real introduction to prison, but unfortunately not her last. Thanks to a circle of friends living the street life, Renee has visited over 83 prisons and written hundreds of letters to comfort the many friends she had on "the inside." This correspondence gave her the idea to turn her love of the "the life" into a greeting card company called JAIL MAIL.

Renee sometimes longs for the good old days, but thanks to her friends she is slowly starting to realize that this is not a life she wants her son to lead. She struggles to balance her allegiance to the street life with her hopes that her son will live a life free of it all.

Renee is hysterical, Renee is crazy, and Renee is drama, but she will be the first to give you the shirt off her back. Everyone and anyone who knows her, knows this.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Boston Mob Wives Reality Show Casting Call

Are you a woman with a personality that pops and a connection to Boston’s criminal underworld?

Boston Mob Wives, a new reality show in production, could be your big break. The first casting call is scheduled to take place at 5 p.m. on Sunday, February 22 at the Four Points Sheraton in Revere.

Henry “Nacho” Laun, Jenna DeRose, and Timothy Baker are looking to cast the new Boston-based reality show. Laun is a former member of Mark Wahlberg’s original real-life entourage. He has had bit parts in numerous Wahlberg films, including The Departed, The Fighter, Ted, and Ted 2. He plays himself on Wahlburgers.

DeRose is a mom of two who lives in Revere. Her husband, Timothy Baker, is also involved in the project.

The original Mob Wives series first aired on VH1 in 2011, but DeRose wasn’t a fan of the original. “I was disgusted. They don’t act classy. The women I know from Boston who have ties to the mob act way classier than that,” she said.

So, what does it take to become a cast member of Boston Mob Wives? You don’t need to have a current connection to organized crime in Boston, nor do you need to be a wife, DeRose told

“If their personality pops and they have mob ties from the past—their grandfather or great uncle—that works,” she said. “I don’t want anyone to think it’s about the mob that’s going on now. It’s about peoples stories from the past.”

DeRose said the people she grew up with who were involved in organized crime were “good guys just trying to make a living.”

“When you say ‘mafia’ to me I think of guys trying to protect their city,” DeRose said. “If they left the mafia alone, Boston would be a safer city.”

DeRose made several claims to her mob pedigree. “Whitey [Bulger] actually taught me how to ride a bike. I grew up around this,” she said.

Bulger was convicted in November 2013 for multiple murders, drug trafficking, racketeering and other charges.

DeRose also told she’s the niece of Bernard “Bennie” Zinna, was involved in organized crime.

Zinna was charged in the 1966 gangland murder of boxer Rocco DiSeglio, but was later acquitted. In 1969, he died after being shot multiple times in his Cadillac. His body was found in Revere, just two miles from where the casting call is set to take place.

Would the producers be open to casting someone who is married to an individual who is currently active in organized crime? The answer is yes, according to DeRose, who explained that if the “wife” was discussing a “current situation,” producers would have to shield the identity of the “husband.”

“His name would have to be Joe Black or something.”

Presumably Bitey Wulger could also work.

Thanks to Hilary Sargent.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Is Piz Rizza Playboy Material?

When "Mob Wives Chicago" star Pia Rizza found out there were naked pictures of her being shopped to various media outlets ... she knew the drill -- RELEASE THE PHOTOS HERSELF!!!

Is Piz Rizza Playboy Material?

Pia told TMZ ... she took the racy pics -- which she allowed TMZ to publish -- sometime last year, while still filming "Mob Wives" and sent them to her boyfriend to get some feedback on whether she had the right stuff for Playboy. But Pia told TMZ... the pics somehow got into the wrong hands -- and someone was trying to sell them without her permission.

Pia says she wanted the pics posted for two reasons:

1. She doesn't want anyone making money off of HER image
2. Yeah, she wants Playboy to notice

Thanks to TMZ.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Did Nora Schweihs Threaten to Kill Ex-Boy Toy of Calvin Klein?

Calvin Klein's ex-boy toy Nick Gruber says he fears for his life ... after a star of "Mob Wives: Chicago" allegedly threatened to kill him with a screwdriver ... this according to court docs obtained by TMZ.

23-year-old Nick requested a restraining order against "Mob Wife" Nora Schweihs in Los Angeles Superior Court on January 22.

In the docs, Nick says he and Nora have been living together for two months -- they share the same entertainment manager -- but things have taken a turn for the worse.

Specifically Nick claims Nora is "psychotic" ... drinks heavily ... stole his $10,000 Rolex ... threatened to sic her mob connections on him -- and threatened to kill Nick herself with a screwdriver.

In the docs, Nick says, "I am afraid for my life. She is hostile and I am afraid if she doesn't leave she might do something terrible to me."

Nick is asking that Nora be kept at least 100 yards away from him and his home at all times.

A hearing was set for Feb. 5th. A judge has ordered Nora not to harass, attack or threaten Nick until then. TMZ reached out to Nora ... so far no word back.

Ultimately, Nick failed to show up to court, so the judge dismissed his request for a restraining order.

Thanks to TMZ.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Chicago Mob Wives Whacked

"Mob Wives Chicago" has been iced.

The VH1 reality show featured five women married or related to reputed mobsters in Chicago.

A spokesman confirmed to the Chicago Sun-Times that the show will not be coming back for a second season after an 11-episode run.

Cast member Pia Rizza told the newspaper that the Sunday night summer time slot and competition with the Olympics were factors in the low ratings.

The show was a spinoff of "Mob Wives," which followed the lives of five New York women with husbands connected to the Mafia.

The Chicago show faced some opposition from an Italian-American group that objected to the Mafia stereotypes, and businesses that would not cooperate with the show.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Mob Wives Chicago on DVD

"Mob Wives Chicago" follows the lives of five women allegedly connected to "The Outfit," Chicago's version of the Mob, as they bear the cross for the sins of their Mob-associated fathers. With lives that are right off the pages of a story book, each woman has chosen her own way to live her life in the city that was once home to Al Capone, sometimes in spite of and many times because of who her father is. Along the way these women battle their friends, families and each other as they try to do what's best for themselves and their children. But ultimately, it is the ghost of their fathers they battle, living and dead, as they try to overcome and persevere in the face of these men's notorious legacies.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Nora Schweihs of Mob Wives Chicago, Tries to Move On

Nora Schweihs is looking beyond all the screaming, name calling and hair pulling that has characterized the first few episodes of "Mob Wives Chicago." But mostly, she's trying to get past the past.

Schweihs, the daughter of Frank "The German" Schweihs, said she's on the show to get closure following the 2008 death of her father, whose body was recently exhumed at the request of his family. As soon as a blood test confirms the body is her father, Schweihs plans to bring his ashes to Florida, where she lived with him, but place some of his remains in a necklace she has made.

Schweihs said she is also honoring him by creating a pinot noir called "The German," which she hopes will bring positive spin to the nickname given to her father, an alleged mob enforcer. In a one-on-one interview with RedEye, she dismissed the murder charges against her father as "hearsay."

"Now you won't ever hear 'The German' as 'Oh, he was a hitman,'" she told RedEye outside the Bebe store in Water Tower Place.

Schweihs is very defensive of her father, who has become a hot-button issue on "Mob Wives Chicago," which began airing last month on VH1. The show features Schweihs and four other local women with ties to the "Chicago Outfit" who bicker about whose father did what and who is the least classy.

Schweihs is often in the middle of the drama, which she calls 100 percent real. In one recent episode, she becomes upset when another cast member shows up late to a memorial for her father. The confrontation turns violent.

"It is our life and it really is real," said Schweihs, wearing a sheer purple top and white jeans. "For me, the whole point of the show is for my father and nothing else and I am thisclose to getting closure."

Part of the premise of the show is Schweihs' return to Chicago after living in Florida with her father, who she calls her best friend. Schweihs, 49, said she now lives in Bridgeport and recently celebrated finishing her business master's degree at Robert Morris University.

She said she was taking multiple courses when she was filming "Mob Wives Chicago," which added to her stress level. Some of friendships she had going into the show have been strained, but she said she has gotten closer to fellow castmates Christina Scoleri and Leah Desimone.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Renee Fecarotta Russo and Nora Schweihs of Mob Wives Chicago Sued by Manager

Call it a “Mob” contract gone bad.

Two cast members of “Mob Wives Chicago” are being sued by film producer and talent manager Nick Celozzi Jr., who says both women owe him a cut of their pay for appearing on the new VH1 reality TV show.

The lawsuits, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, accuse Renee Fecarotta Russo and Nora Schweihs of breaking their contracts with Celozzi.

He says his company, Family Ties Management, arranged for both women to attend a casting call with the show’s production company, JustJenn Productions. The women hired Celozzi to be their manager for two years, according to copies of contracts that appear to have been signed by Russo and Schweihs in December.

As their manager, Celozzi was supposed to collect 15 percent of what the women get paid to be on the TV show — a figure listed in the lawsuits as $6,000 for each of the season’s 10 episodes. That makes Celozzi’s cut $900 an episode for Russo and the same for Schweihs.

Looks like it was an offer they could refuse.

To date, Russo has forked over $500 while Schweihs has paid $900, according to the lawsuits, which say the women each owe a total of $9,000 for season one — plus interest and legal costs.

“I do believe a lot of people who are new to this business … when they realize that there’s a lot of costs to being involved in this type of industry, they change their minds about what decisions they wanted to have made several months prior,” said Celozzi’s attorney, James Pesoli.

The management contracts call for disputes to be settled before the American Arbitration Association in New York. But Pesoli said that “due to the size of the claim being relatively minimal, under $10,000, it’s in both parties’ best interest to attempt to settle it locally.”

Pesoli, who appeared in court with Russo’s attorney earlier this week, said discussions are under way to potentially settle out of court. He said things haven’t progressed as much in the case of Schweihs, whom they’ve had “a great amount of difficulty” in serving with the lawsuit.

Attempts to reach Schweihs, Russo and Russo’s attorney Wednesday were unsuccessful.

“Mob Wives Chicago,” a spinoff of the popular “Mob Wives” series, debuted June 10 and airs Sundays on the cable network. The show follows the lives of five women related to Chicago mobsters.

Russo is the niece of late loan shark and Outfit hit man “Big John” Fecarotta.

Schweihs is the daughter of Frank “The German” Schweihs, an alleged mob enforcer who died shortly before going to trial in 2008 in the city’s historic Family Secrets case. Nora Schweihs made headlines last week when she had father’s remains exhumed from St. Mary Cemetery in Evergreen Park — part of her purported quest to find out what really happened to her dad.

Celozzi, a former actor, used to appear in his father Nick’s commercials for Celozzi-Ettleson Chevrolet in Elmhurst. Dividing his time between California and the western suburbs, Celozzi has several mob-related entertainment projects in the works, including a documentary on his grand-uncle, notorious Outfit boss Sam “Momo” Giancana.

Thanks to Lori Rackl Irackl

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Chicago Mob Wives Episode 2 Sneak Peek

In case you’ve ever wondered what the real aftermath of a reality TV fight is, turn your attention to Nora Schweihs of Mob Wives Chicago, who finds one of the telltale signs of a catfight lying on the ground after Pia and Christina went at it last week. The fights might be real on this show, but as we learn from the clip, not all of the hair is.

Mob Wives Chicago airs Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Chicago Is My F—ing Town - Episode 1 of Mob Wives Chicago

If you ever thought that the mob was just Staten Island, think again. “The mob is Chicago. It’s in the pavement, it’s everywhere,” Renee Fecarotta Russo explains in the first moments of Mob Wives Chicago. This is where the mob began.Now that we know Chicago is where is began, let’s meet the ladies.

Renee is the niece of Big John Fecarotta, an alleged enforcer for the mob who was gunned down in 1986, shot in the back by his best friend.

Before he died, he treated Renee like a princess, and that’s just how Renee treats her own daughters, Giana who’s 20 years old (damn, Renee, you look good for the mom of a 20-year-old!) and Isabella, age 10. Giana’s father is in prison and has been for thirteen years, and unlike the women from Staten Island, making prison visits is not a priority. “I haven’t visited him this whole time, and I never want to see him again,” she says. Giana wants to know her dad though, and Renee can’t stand the idea that she wants to visit a man who was not only convicted of murder, but who was never there for her as a dad. “This guy is so horrible that I really don’t want him near my daughter.” Giana disagrees.

Nora Schweihs
Nora knows Chicago is a corrupt town and explains that the stuff we’ve seen on The Sopranos is kid stuff compared to what happens on a day-to-day in Chicago. Nora’s dad is Frank “The German” Schweihs, who is the most notorious hit man in Chicago. Just don’t insinuate that he killed Marilyn Monroe, because Nora will stab you. “Mind your own business and shut the f— up about my dad,” seems to be Nora’s motto. Nora was best friends with her dad. She still might be, his whereabouts are currently unknown. Though he was presumed to have passed away in prison, the day of the funeral, the funeral director called her family and told them that the FBI confiscated his body. She’s absolutely tortured by the fact that she was never able to say goodbye to the man she loved. After a decade in Florida, Nora moved back to Chicago and plans to find out just what happened to her dad. Reality shows don’t have nearly enough mystery, so here’s to hoping Nora’s story finds some resolution, because now I’m dying to know what happened to her dad, too.

Pia Rizza
Vince Rizza was a crooked Chicago cop turned government informant. His daughter, Pia, is not a fan of rats and considers him an embarrassment to her family. She’s had to live with the stigma of having a cooperator in the family, and admits that, when asked about her father, she tells people he’s dead. Pia’s a single mom who works at a strip club which she’s totally fine with, but Nora looks down on. “She’s so much better than working at the strip club,” Nora says. “It’s just a job,” Pia says. A job that brings in thousands of dollars a night, sometimes.

Nora feels comfortable enough talking about Pia’s job though because they go way back and their families have history and they’re like sisters. Which also gives Pia the freedom to tell us that “Nora gets a bad rap because a lot of people think she’s f—ing nuts.” I look forward to seeing that side of her. But for now, Nora just wants Pia to get her life together and find a more respectable profession. Pia takes offense to that notion.

Renee doesn’t know Pia that well, but she feels the same way about the stripping (“What she does is an embarrassment…Get off the pole.”) and to boot, she’s heard that Pia is a goumada, a mistress to several married men.

Renee admits to being judgmental, but what she really should have said was she is Judge Judy, Judge Wapner, and Judge Joe Brown all rolled into one. She can’t stand Pia’s profession, she knows Pia’s father is a rat and thinks that’s a disgrace. “Obviously this girl has no integrity,” Renee tells Nora. Do I sense our first beef of the season?

Norah just wants to have a nice girls’ night out with all the women so they can get to know each other, and suggests that maybe Pia will grown on Renee. “Like mold?” Renee asks. But before girls night happens, Pia’s cousin Anthony calls her to tell her he saw Nora out at a club, and Nora was talking smack about Pia. Sounds like Renee’s judgmental ways rubbed off, because Anthony says Nora was calling her a b—h and a whore. “Nobody talks s— about me,” Pia says. Oooh, it’s actually a race to see whose beef will blossom first this season!

Before that can happen, we meet Christina Scoleri. Born and bred in Little Italy, Christina grew up a fighter who’s used to watching her back. Christina’s father is a burglar for the mob. Though she’s loyal to her dad, she’s “definitely not the girl to take over the family business,” she says. After a ten-year marriage, she’s recently divorced but still living with her ex-husband. “I know it’s a little weird.” I mean, okay, it is a little weird, but whats weirder is that no one in Christina’s family knows they’re divorced, not even her nine-year-old daughter who lives with them. Well, we know where Christina’s Mob Wives salary is going to go, paying off the years of therapy her daughter’s going to need to figure out this situation. Christina knows she needs to get out though, that’s for sure.

Pia is Christina’s friend and has been for over ten years, and Christina doesn’t really know the other women. Pia tells Christina the things her cousin heard Nora saying, specifically that she’s a “c—t,” and Christina can’t believe it but advises Pia to address it “in a nice way first” before raising fists. Christina sounds wiser by the minute, also saying that the issue should be addressed before the girls’ night out so it’s not tense for everyone.

Rounding out the pack is Leah Desimone, another native of Little Italy, a self-professed chubby-chaser, and a woman whose father kept his mob indiscretions hidden from her view. Leah still lives at home with her father, so in case you thought Christina had the weirdest living situation of the bunch, she’s got some competition. “I don’t wanna leave my father!” Leah says.

She’s connected to the gang through Christina, as they both grew up on the same street, but she knows who the other girls are. Christina tells Leah about the Pia-Nora drama and Leah sums up the situation by saying “Nora and Pia are two balloon-heads. I’ve never seen a friendship like this before in my life.”

Leah is going to be absent from girls’ night because she’ll be out of town, and that means we won’t have access to her running commentary and Italian slang for a scene or two, which bums me out. What the crap is a bazzarelle? Because my Google translator isn’t finding it. Leah says it’s best that she’s not there though, because she will throw down if necessary, and anything can trigger her.

On to girls night… Nora is the only person who’s looking at this thing optimistically. She wants everyone to hang out, have a good time, meet one another. But no one else is psyched because of what they’ve heard, or think they’ve heard through the Chicago grapevine.

“Are the girls late or are we early?” Renee asks, and Nora mentions that Pia’s usually late. “That’s disrespectful,” Renee says, and already it feels like trouble’s brewing. Poor Pia has no idea how Renee feels because she tells us “I like Renee, I think she’s a fun girl.”

When Pia and Christina arrive, so far so good. Hugs all around! But then Pia starts talking about some unsavory behavior, like the time she was in Florida and drank a pitcher and a half of mojitos, and Renee looks at her like she wants to drown her in an above-ground pool full of mojitos. And if her dirty looks weren’t enough to make Pia feel unwelcome, Renee broaches the subject of Pia’s father being a rat, and Pia explains that her father was a rat but that she is nothing like him. Renee doesn’t push the envelope, but she also doesn’t warn to Pia, even after that reassurance.
We already have two potential beefs in the room, but now we get a third once Christina brings up the topic of Nora’s dad being a hit man. No one ever told Christina that this subject was off-limits, apparently. “What would make you bring such a sore subject into such a happy moment?” Nora asks. “My dad didn’t kill any-f—ing-body.”

“Nora’s in f—ing la la land about what her dad used to do,” Christina tells us. Again, loving Christina’s to-the-point honesty. I wonder if it will come back to bite her? (This is also the same women who admits “I could drink, like, a kegger of shots!” during the night. I also wonder if that will come back to bite her.)
Renee notices that Christina is like halfway through her kegger of shots and she’s like “Slow down, killer!” But the moment we assumed would happen finally happens, Pia tells the girls “I have to address something.”

“I have to tell Nora about what I heard.” Pia tells Nora what her cousin told her, and Nora’s response is very lawyer-y. “Tell him to get it on tape, and then I’ll believe what I said,” she says, basically talking in circles because I don’t really know what she means. “It’s hearsay.” Finally she tells Pia “I never said it.”
“I don’t know if Nora called Pia a whore, but I wouldn’t blame her if she did,” Renee says. “If it looks like a duck and it walks like a duck…quack quack.”

Nora and Pia actually talk things out and kiss, and Nora says “Love you, drop it.” Beef number one seems to actually be squashed, which seems miraculous.

Christina’s not dropping anything though. “You guys should have addressed this the next day,” she tells Pia, sticking to her guns of nipping drama in the bud. Except that she has no clue that she’s starting beef number three. Christina and her kegger of shots are losing control and she keeps pushing everyone’s buttons over an issue that’s already been resolved, and no one knows why. Judging from her face, I don’t even know if she knows why.

She holds fast to the notion that since Pia confided in her about this issue, it’s now her business, and she doesn’t like the way it was resolved after all.

“Shut the f— up!” Pia tells Christina. “Are you my friend or are you not my friend? Right now I don’t think you’re my friend!” she yells, getting up off her couch. “All of a sudden Christina’s like a raging junkyard dog.”

Christina tosses her drink at Nora who stepped in to separate them, and hell breaks loose. “This is completely out of control,” Renee says, as security tries to pry the women apart, but they are fused together at the hair extensions by now.

Once the dust clears, Renee still finds a way to place the blame on Pia, saying “Pia she just has no class. She’s just a piece of s—.”

Introductions are complete, welcome to the world of Mob Wives Chicago.

Thanks to Elizabeth Black

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Will "Mob Wives Chicago" Knock Off The "Real Housewives"?

VH1 attempts to challenge the "Real Housewives" throne by expanding its mafia-centric franchise into the Windy City.

By 2011, The Real Housewives empire had spread itself conspicuously thin with formualic spinoffs stretching from Beverly Hills to Manhattan. True, cliques of social-climbing, bourgeois women playing out their often petty dramas while the cameras rolled had proven to be a lucrative enterprise, but by the time the Miami franchise debuted last year — let's face it — the whole endeavor was feeling a tad stale.

To the rescue came Mob Wives, VH1's gritty challenger to the Housewives throne, which infused a whole new level of violence, passion and heartbreak into the gender-centric genre. Created by Jennifer Graziano, the daughter of Bonanno crime family consigliere Anthony Graziano, the show's characters were as vivid and conflicted as those found on The Sopranos or in Goodfellas. Comprised of Drita D'Avanzo, Renee Graziano, Karen Gravano and Carla Facciolo, the original cast was unlike any found in reality television at the time. But because Hollywood has never learned the virtue of leaving well enough alone, two highly rated seasons of Mob Wives have brought us the invitable expansion of this new fledgling empire.

Mob Wives: Chicago, like all five of the Real Housewives sequels that followed Orange County, doesn't try to tinker with the original recipe. In fact, it apes every opening move of the first series save for the change of setting. As with its forerunner, the premiere episode introduces us to a cast of brassy, foul-mouthed, mafia-connected women before tossing them together with an ample amout of tequila in a bar to see how long it will take for a fight to break out.

"I may be a nice girl, the average mom rolling her grocery cart down the street, but there's a bitch in here if you bring her out," boasts Christina Scoleri, the daughter of one-time mob thief Raymond Janek.

All too happy to help bring out Scoleri's inner bitch are Renee Fecarotta Russo, a pretty blond with a boob job whose uncle, "Big John" Fecarotta, was said to be a loan collecter and hit man for the mob, and Pia Rizza, a stripper and mother whose dirty cop dad testified against his mafia bosses before disappearing into the witness protection program.

"People say I'm a judgmental bitch, but I'm about class, respect and loyalty," a gesticulating Russo says in a cut away shot. "And if you don't show me that, well then we're gonna have a f***ing problem."

Among Russo's problems is Rizza's chosen line of work, and, because no self-respecting mob wife (not a literal description, mind you) could ever be accused of shyness, she makes it known that she intends to tell her as much before the conclusion of episode one.

"I try to keep it real, so I think now is a pretty good time to tell Pia how I feel about her," Russo says.

The oddball center of gravity of the cast is Nora Schweihs, daughter of notorious mob hit man Frank "The German" Schweihs. If the conceit of Mob Wives Chicago is to be believed, Schweihs has gotten the old gang back together again after returning to town in a quest to dig up father's grave to make sure his body resides in the casket.

"Nora gets a bad rap, because a lot of people think she's f***ing nuts," Rizza, who has known Schweihs for more than a dozen years, explains.

Mob Wives Chicago's stellar production team — which includes Graziano, Bob and Harvey Weinstein, Meryl Poster, Ben Silverman, Jimmy Fox, Banks Tarver, Ken Druckerman, Nina Diaz and Jack Tarantino — obligingly fill out the cast with Leah Desimone, the short-fused daughter of alleged mob associate William "Wolf" DeSimone.  Showing little patience for the behind the back gossip that typifies the show, DeSimone offers a near constant stream of violent invectives.

"Who wants a friend like that?" DeSimone tells Scoleri while shopping for clothes. "If somebody treated me that way I would hit them in the head with a shovel."

Preoccupied with amping up the animosity among its cast before the aforementioned bar blowout, Mob Wives Chicago doesn't feel nearly as organic as the original show. Instead of delving into conflicted feelings about the mafia that made Graziano and Gravano such interesting characters on Mob Wives, we are given gratuitous plot lines and a pacing that makes the show feel more like Basketball Wives LA.But the biggest problem for the Chicago version is that we've now seen this type of character before, and it feels like the new cast has spent a fair amount of time watching the first show so as to perfect their tough girl schtick. While Chicago may not be the last Mob Wives spinoff we'll see before this juggernaut is laid to rest, its staying power will require tapping into something new from its characters other than sassy hometown boosterism.

"I don't care what my father did, I don't care what the next person's father did," DeSimone says without apparent signs of irony, "Keep your fucking mouth shut, that's what Chicago's all about."

Thanks to David Knowles

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Nora Schweihs Profile from Mob Wives Chicago

Nora Schweihs
Nora Schweihs grew up hearing that her father, Frank “The German” Schweihs was the most notorious hit-man in Chicago. And now she’s hoping to set the record straight. As one of the castmembers of Mob Wives Chicago, Nora has returned to her hometown with a mission to clear her father’s name and show the world who she is. Unfortunately, she has to contend with a family that doesn’t support her for being on the show, an uncooperative FBI that confiscated the body of her her father after he died, and a lot of in-fighting with her girlfriends. And still, she says the show is the best thing that’s ever happened to her. Meet Nora, everyone.

Leah Desimone Profile from Mob Wives Chicago

Leah Desimone
“I wanted to join the Chicago Mob Wives, A) I’m very comedic, B) I got a deadly weapon and it’s in my mouth. And it ain’t registered,” Leah Desimone tells us right off the bat in her profile for Chicago Mob Wives Mob Wives Chicago. Leah is just the right blend of authentic, hilarious, and a leeeetle bit out there, and she is definitely going to make the show interesting this summer. Just don’t ask her to tell you the difference between a Popsicle and a lollipop.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Renee Fecarotta Russo Profile from Mob Wives Chicago

Renee Fecarptta

You’re going to be seeing a lot of Renee Fecarotta Russo this summer. Renee is one of the stars of Mob Wives Chicago, and like the other Renee we know and love, she is a true daughter of the mob, who values loyalty, respect, and independence. Check out Renee’s cast profile, where she explains that what you see is what you get. “I think I’m pretty true to what I say that I am,” she says. No camera gangsters here!

Friday, June 01, 2012

Pia Rizza Profile from Mob Wives Chicago

Pia Rizza
Pia Rizza doesn’t sugarcoat anything. In her Mob Wives Chicago cast profile, she explains her mob ties (her father was a crooked Chicago cop), but eventually he turned. “He basically sold the mob down the river to save his own ass,” she tells us. And how does Pia feel about that? “He’s a f—ing embarrassment.” Pia tells us about herself, saying she shares a lot of the characteristics of the women from Staten Island, and says “My daughter told me I have every single one of their personalities rolled up into one, like Sybil.”

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Christina Scoleri Profile from Mob Wives: Chicago

Christina Scoleri

“I wanna get the story out there,” Christina Scoleri explains when she’s asked why she joined the cast of Mob Wives Chicago. And she definitely has a story to tell. With a dad who was “connected” and arrested over twenty times, she’s intimately familiar with the lifestyle, but she’s endured some of her own trials and…trivulations, too. She’s divorced but still living with her ex, and raising her daughter, and just fighting (figuratively and sometimes literally) to survive. Doing this show, she says, “Is therapy for me.”


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