The Chicago Syndicate: TV
The Mission Impossible Backpack

Showing posts with label TV. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TV. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Get Caught Up for the Next Season of Boardwalk Empire

Get Caught Up for Next Season: Boardwalk Empire on DVD & Blu-Ray!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Billionaire Mafia Founder Loves Attention from "Vegas High Rollers"

Addicted to reality TV villains? Odds are good you'll love or loathe Russian diva Lana Fuchs of TLC's "Vegas High Rollers."

She's clearly running out of friends after storming out of a cocktail reception during a weekend film shoot.

Just three weeks into a three-month shoot with the local socialites, the fireworks erupted Friday when the fashion designer's cast mates, concerned about her bad-mouthing, confronted her to clear the air.

Fuchs walked out, with cameras - and eyes - rolling.

"She seems to have an issue with everybody," a source said.

Fuchs appears to love the attention. At their opening shoot at the Hard Rock Hotel's pools, she arrived with an entourage of little people and bodyguards for the Black and White Party, an AIDS benefit.

Fuchs, who grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., after leaving Russia, is the founder of Billionaire Mafia and Lana Fuchs Couture.

Billionaire Mafia has been a hit with the hip-hop crowd and club scenesters.

The shooting has been taking place throughout the city, from staid Las Vegas Country Club to restaurant hot spots Firefly and Marche Baccus to Rain nightclub at the Palms for a pole dancing expo.

Thanks to Norm Clarke.

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.”

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mob Wives: Chicago to Scorch VH1 This Summer

"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 out of newspaper headlines, 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.

Monday, April 16, 2012

“Mob Wives Chicago" Smears Italian Americans

 I’m a Chicagoan looking to join a public protest, and I’ve come up with a good one.

Not against NATO or bankers on La Salle Street, but against a TV show being filmed in Chicago. It’s called “Mob Wives Chicago,” another one of those insensitive, dumb things that pick on Italians -– stereotyping Italians as da Big Al Capone, or da “Big Tuna,” Tony Accardo. It’s wrong to make fun of ethnic minorities, to embarrass our neighbors or influence our children to think Italians are gangsters.

You want to stereotype Italians? Try Christopher Columbus and Galileo; Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo; Puccini and Verdi; Versace, Gucci and Armani; Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra and Rocky Marciano. How about Phil Cavaretta?  How about Ron Santo?

C’mon, you TV movie moguls. Get a life. Have some decency and respect. Before you finish filming “Mob Wives Chicago,” give it a wrap

 Perspective by Walter Jacobson.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Mob Wives Slammed by Victoria Gotti

They may both be daughters of Mafia members, but Victoria Gotti doesn't think she has much in common with Karen Gravano.

At least that's what she implied in a radio interview with Frank Morano on AM 970 The Apple.

Morano asked Ms. Gotti for her thoughts on "Mob Wives" in general and Karen Gravano's attempts to make herself a celebrity. "God bless them, is what I say," Ms. Gotti said. "If you ask me, do I see any major talent there in each of them, or any of them? No."

Ms. Gotti's father was John Gotti, the Gambino crime boss who Ms. Gravano's father, Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, testified against. Gotti died in federal prison.

Ms. Gotti has written several novels and is a former columnist. She was recently voted off Donald Trump's television show "Celebrity Apprentice."

"I'm working since I'm 15," Ms. Gotti told Moran. "What I've done, I would have done if I were Victoria Smith. No one would have stopped me." But long before Ms. Gravano cashed in on being a mob daughter on "Mob Wives," Ms. Gotti and her three sons starred in "Growing Up Gotti" on A&E.

She also wrote her own book about growing up in a Mafia family -- but only when she thought it would help her brother, John "Junior" Gotti, who was facing criminal charges. "I was offered to do a book, God, 10, 15 years ago, and God knows the dollar amounts thrown at me," she said. "I don't do that until it's to help save my brother's life. So we have different mindsets, you know, her and I."

Ms. Gotti called "Mob Wives" a "train wreck," and said it wasn't "real."

"I've never met this girl. I don't know her. I don't like what I see, per se, and hear, but at the same time, I think the whole 'Mob Wives' thing is a complete joke," she said.

Morano, the radio host and a Staten Islander, said on the air he is often asked why he attacks Ms. Gravano but praises Ms. Gotti. "I guess to me the major difference is Karen is herself a convicted criminal, and she really doesn't have any major talents," Morano said.

Ms. Gravano pleaded guilty to being part of her father's ecstasy ring when the family lived in Arizona, after Salvatore Gravano's relatively short stint in federal prison and abbreviated stay in the witness protection program. While her father wound up back in prison, Ms. Gravano was sentenced to probation.

A representative of Ms. Gravano's did not respond to a request for comment from the author and reality show star.

Thanks to Jillian Jorgenson

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Mob Daughter: The Mafia, Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, and Me!

From Karen Gravano, a star of the hit VH1 reality show Mob Wives, comes a revealing memoir of a mafia childhood, where love and family come hand-in-hand with murder and betrayal.

Karen Gravano is the daughter of Sammy “the Bull” Gravano, once one of the mafia's most feared hit men. With nineteen confessed murders, the former Gambino Crime Family underboss—and John Gotti’s right-hand man—is the highest ranking gangster ever to turn State’s evidence and testify against members of his high-profile crime family.

But to Karen, Sammy Gravano was a sometimes elusive but always loving father figure. He was ever-present at the head of the dinner table. He made a living running a construction firm and several nightclubs. He stayed out late, and sometimes he didn’t come home at all. He hosted “secret” meetings at their house, and had countless whispered conversations with “business associates.” By the age of twelve, Karen knew he was a gangster. And as she grew up, while her peers worried about clothes and schoolwork, she was coming face-to-face with crime and murder. Gravano was nineteen years old when her father turned his back on the mob and cooperated with the Feds. The fabric of her family was ripped apart, and they were instantly rejected by the communities they grew up in.

This is the story of a daughter’s struggle to reconcile the image of her loving father with that of a murdering Mafioso, and how, in healing the rift between the two, she was able to forge a new life.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Is Angela “Big Ang” Raiola America's Newest Sweetheart?

America’s newest sweetheart is a chain-smoking Staten Island diva with a passion for plastic surgery.

She’s Angela “Big Ang” Raiola, Angela 'Big Ang' Raiolathe latest cast member on the VH1 reality show “Mob Wives.”

Raiola debuted on the Jan. 1 second-season premiere when she tried — unsuccessfully — to get feuding “Mob Wives” co-stars Karen Gravano and Drita D’Avanzo to settle their differences. The result may have been a massive, punch-throwing fight that disrupted a lavish party for cast mate Renee Graziano, but it also put Raiola on the fast track to fame.

One fan even got a tattoo of Raiola’s face — with her trademark collagen-enhanced lips — and the image went viral.

“I’m very overwhelmed at how big I became,” Raiola told the Herald. “It’s been crazy, out of control. Everywhere I am, people are stopping me. Or they’re sending fan mail to my bar.”

That’s the Drunken Monkey, for those un-familiar with Staten Island hot spots. “I never thought this would happen,” added Raiola, 52, niece of late mob captain Salvatore “Sally Dogs” Lombardi. “But it’s fun. It’s very ex-citing.”

“Big Ang is like the godmother of all of us. She has all the wisdom,” D’Avanzo said in a recent episode.

Raiola explained that the nickname, “Big Ang,” came from growing up in Brooklyn as one of two girls named Ang in the neighborhood.

“My girlfriend, she was very tiny and I was tall, so I became ‘Big Ang’ and she’s ‘Little Ang,’ ” she said.

Raiola said she’s friends with all the cast members, but feels closest to Graziano, saying: “I like every-thing about Renee. I’ve known her since she was a teenager. She’s a good person and has a big heart. She’s very sensitive. I real-ly like her.”

Raspy-voiced Raiola admits to a tummy tuck, liposuction, three breast implant surgeries and wanting a face-lift — and confesses an affinity for dating “wiseguys,” who she says have bought her million-dollar homes and Jaguars in the past.

“Big Ang” is still taking in her newfound fame and has not accepted commercial endorsements — yet — even as VH1 announces a spinoff, “Mob Wives: Chicago,” to debut with a different cast by the end of the year.

“I’m going to take it day to day,” said Raiola. “I’ll see what comes and go with it.”

Thanks to Dan O'Brien

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Mob Wives Connected to Bonanno Crime Family Bust

Federal agents busted several high-ranking Bonanno crime family members last week and charged them with racketeering and extortion, authorities said.

Among those arrested in the joint FBI-Drug Enforcement Administration probe were two senior members of the Bonanno ruling administration, Anthony "TG" Graziano and Vinny Badalamenti, law enforcement sources said.

Bonanno captain Nicky Santoro was also charged in the sweep as were soldiers Vito Balsamo and Anthony Calabrese, sources said.

A Gambino crime family associate, James LaForte, was also arrested in the early morning raids, sources said.

The suspects were scheduled to be arraigned in Brooklyn federal court.

Graziano was already facing previous extortion charges in a separate case.

The massive sweep against the Bonanno leadership stems in part from the assistance of former mob associate Hector Pagan, who is the ex-husband of "Mob Wives" star Renee Graziano. Pagan is now a DEA informant.

Renee Graziano is the daughter of Anthony Graziano.

Anthony Graziano, 71, was released recently from prison, but then quickly ensnared in an earlier Drug Enforcement Administration probe that pre-dated today's developments.

In that previous case, Pagan -- a Bonanno associate-turned DEA informant -- reportedly wore a wire and secretly recorded conversations for the feds with his ex-father-in-law while discussing the collection of a loanshark debt.

Anthony Graziano was indicted by Brooklyn federal prosecutors on those earlier charges just last week.

Thanks to Mitchel Maddux


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