The mob/mafia is a source of constant fascination with audiences, and it’s once again stepping into the spotlight, as one of the most highly-regarded films on the subject is headed to AMC. The network is looking to bring the long-gestating adaptation of Goodfellas to television, with the help of the film’s co-screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi and its producer Irwin Winkler.
The 1990 Martin Scorsese film starred frequent Scorsese collaborators Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci – as well as Ray Liotta playing Henry Hill, a member of the Lucchese crime family, and eventual FBI informant. Goodfellas spanned several decades, from the height of the Lucchese family, all the way to its ultimate downfall in the early ‘80s.
Goodfellas was critically acclaimed and would eventually win an Academy Award for Pesci, whose iconic performance as the unhinged Tommy DeVito would result in the actor being forever remembered for making the line “Tell me how I’m funny,” far more menacing than anyone could have ever imagined. Although the film was denied the larger awards that it likely deserved, it is still revered as one of the top films of the ‘90s and one of Scorsese’s best.
Due to the film’s longevity and in some part because HBO’s The Sopranos not only featured Goodfellas actors Michael Imperioli and Lorraine Bracco, but was also filled with references to the film, it never really left the public’s eye – which may explain why AMC believes the transition to television will be a successful one.
For his part, Pileggi (who also wrote the non-fiction book Wiseguy, on which the film was based) has been rumored to be involved in some sort of Goodfellas TV adaptation for well over a year. As this project nears fruition on AMC, however, it is being reported that Homicide: Life on the Street writer Jorge Zamacona will join Pileggi in order to handle scripting duties for the proposed series.
Meanwhile, the film’s producer, Irwin Winkler (Rocky, The Right Stuff), is also onboard along with his son David and Warner Horizon Television. At this time, there is no word whether Scorsese - who directed the pilot of Boardwalk Empire and serves as executive producer - will join the Goodfellas television series in any capacity – though Pileggi has suggested he might.
Also unknown is what stretch of time the series will take place during. Given that the film covers 25 years, there’s plenty to choose from. Early indications suggest that Goodfellas will focus on the Lucchese family heydays of the 1960s – a time period AMC has already cornered the market on with Mad Men. The next step, of course, will be to cast the major roles and to find actors capable of evoking not only the criminal lifestyle, but the era, as well.
If the series does in fact take place in the ‘60s, it will help to keep Pileggi’s pen sharp. The writer is also working on Ralph Lamb, a period police drama on CBS featuring the eponymous Las Vegas sheriff and his sometimes-publicized battles with organized crime.
Screen Rant will update on all things Goodfellas as more news becomes available.