Curtis Sliwa has good reason not to like the Gotti family. Sliwa, radio host and founder of the Guardian Angels, believes John Gotti Jr. tried to have him killed in June 1992. Sliwa was shot while sitting inside a taxi in Manhattan.
The police and prosecutors believed Sliwa, but in three trials they failed to win a conviction. The charges have been dropped. Sliwa and John Gotti Sr. grew up in Howard Beach and Sliwa used his radio show to attack the mobster every chance he could.
But Sliwa is wrong in his effort to try to block the filming of a movie about the Gotti family in Howard Beach. Sliwa sent a letter to the mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting requesting that the film be denied permits to shoot within city limits.
He reasoned, “You don’t want to accept Gambino and Gotti blood money. You don’t want to stain [Howard Beach] any more than it already has been.”
We can think of a number of reasons why Sliwa’s request should be denied. The Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting was created to encourage producers to shoot their movies in the five boroughs. All too often films and TV shows about New York City are shot in Canada. When that happens, the city loses millions of dollars.
State Sen. Joseph Addabbo said a New York story should be filmed in the city regardless of the subject matter.
“It upsets me more when they take something that is supposed to be in New York City but film it in Montreal,” he said.
Just as most people know that Al Capone was a Chicago mobster, most people know Gotti ran one of the nation’s most violent crime families from the Bergin Fish and Hunt Club in Howard Beach.
It would be a mistake for the Office of Film to engage in censorship. Blocking the Gotti story would put the office on a slippery slope.
Local residents will have the opportunity to get walk-on roles and local businesses and property owners will make money catering and renting out locations.
Sliwa predicted the movie, starring John Travolta in the lead role, was “going to be a love-fest with the Gottis and Gambinos” and will not stay true to history. If that happens, Sliwa can criticize the movie all he wants. No one is better at getting a headline.