Following what has been a somewhat tumultuous talent shake-up over the past few weeks, Barry Levinson has officially signed on to direct the mobster biopic, Gotti: Three Generations, Variety reports.
Levinson, the director of Diner, Rain Man and Bugsy, among others, will take the helm from Nick Cassavetes, whose schedule recently forced him to drop the project. There was, meanwhile, a swapping of roles for actress Lindsay Lohan who, just a day later, was recast from the role of Victoria Gotti to that of Kim Gotti, the wife of John Gotti, Jr.
The film, which adapts John Gotti’s life from the point of view of his son, John Gotti, Jr, is also set to star John Travolta, Joe Pesci and Ella Bleu Travolta. The rights to the story, which, in reality ended with the death of Gotti in prison in 2002, are held by Marc Fiore and his Fiore Films where actor Leo Rossi is said be supplying the screenplay.
The film will span Gotti’s rise to power in the last two decades of the 20th century and is expected to go into production shortly.
UPDATE: Here is the press release about Levinson coming on board…
Fiore Films, an independent production company, today announced it has signed Academy Award®-winning director Barry Levinson to direct “Gotti: Three Generations.”
It was previously announced that John Travolta will star in the film as John Gotti Sr., Joe Pesci will co-star as Gotti deputy Angelo Ruggiero and Lindsay Lohan will play Kim Gotti, the wife of John Gotti, Jr.
Fiore Films acquired life rights from John Gotti, Jr., the son of the late mob boss John Gotti, to the story of his life with his father. The deal marks the first time a member of the Gotti family has entered into an agreement to tell their story for a major motion picture. Production is expected to begin in late fall, with a theatrical release in late 2012. The film will be shot in New York.
“Barry Levinson is one of the most preeminent directors of our generation,” said Marc Fiore, executive producer and producer of “Gotti” and CEO of Fiore Films, LLC. “Barry has been a driving force in filmmaking for the past 35 years and has directed some of the most memorable movies of our time.”
Levinson’s credits include “Rain Man,” “Bugsy,” “Diner,” “Avalon,” “Good Morning, Vietnam,” and most recently “You Don’t Know Jack,” which received 15 Emmy Nominations. He has been nominated for six Academy Awards® and won Best Director for “Rain Man.”
“What really attracted me to the story was that it was from the perspective of John Gotti Jr. You see an insider’s look that I haven’t seen told before,” said Levinson.
Actor-writer Leo Rossi (“Analyze This”) wrote the screenplay for the film, which reveals the relationship of a father who lived and died by the mob code and a son who chose to leave that world behind and redeem himself. Never before has there been such an inside look at the life of one of the Gotti family and their world of danger, betrayal and redemption. Levinson will work with Rossi on the final script.
John Gotti was head of the Gambino crime family, which in its time was the largest and most powerful crime organization in the country. Known as the “Dapper Don,” John Gotti’s flamboyant style and outspoken personality made him one of the most famous mobsters of the 20th century and he ruled the underworld until he died from cancer in 2002 while serving a life sentence. In 1988, at the age of 24, Gotti Jr. became a “made man,” and was officially inducted into the Mafia, making him the heir-apparent to head the Gambino crime family.