If you’ve been privy to watching the Gotti family’s reality show Growing Up Gotti, then it should be pretty clear to you that the family isn’t shy about being perceived as gaudy tabloid fodder. And it should come as no surprise that the biopic they’re involved in about their family’s recent history is stirring up its own circus of controversy. First it was all surrounding the casting of Lindsay Lohan and the question of whether she would be sober or sane enough to actually appear in the film, and which role she would actually play. Then THR reported that Joe Pesci was suing the production. He was announced at a Cannes press conference as playing the part of Angelo Ruggiero and had already gained 30 lbs to play the role, but recently the film’s new regime, led by director Barry Levinson, had told him that he would be recast in the smaller role of Anthony Casso and have his pay cut from $3 million to $1 million.
So, let’s recap. So far, we’re on our second director, Lindsay Lohan has been at times playing two different roles or not appearing at all, and Joe Pesci has also been volleyed between two roles and eventually forced to sue the production. It sounds like things are really well organized and going great over there.
Finally, though, Levinson has some good news, and it might just be the shot in the arm this trouble-plagued project needs to get back on track. According to Variety, Ben Foster has been signed to play John Gotti Jr. This should be a big role, as the film is purportedly about the transition of power between John Gotti Sr. (John Travolta) who was a big time mafia man, and John Gotti Jr. who took the family into legitimate business. As a matter of fact, the project used to be referred to as Gotti: Three Generations, but now it seems to be going by the title Gotti: In the Shadow of My Father, which seems to point to Jr. being the lead role. Foster is a great actor who has impressed in high profile roles before, like with his young soldier in The Messenger, so he should be a welcome addition to the cast. Plus, he’s already worked with Levinson, who gave him one of his first breaks in Liberty Heights. When commenting on his casting, Foster said, “Barry Levinson was the first director who took a chance on me, and I have a career because of him. This is a film about family, fathers, and sons. I am deeply honored for the opportunity to work with Barry and the amazing cast he is assembling to help bring the story of the Gotti family to the screen.” Sounds like Levinson called in an old favor. How very Mafioso of him.