Despite the project having already landed some pretty significant names, a scheduling conflict ultimately forced director Nick Cassavetes (who will cameo in Hangover 2 this summer) to abandon his Mafia biopic Gotti: Three Generations. Now it looks like the film will instead feature an Oscar-winning Hollywood maestro at the helm instead.
Barry Levinson is in active negotiations to direct Three Generations, which chronicles the rise of John Gotti Sr. to power as head of the Gambino crime family - and the subsequent conflict between him and his son, who was not interested in following in his father's footsteps.
Variety has the scoop on Levinson circling the Gotti flick, which producer Marc Fiore has previously claimed (and take this as you will) "is going to be the new 'Godfather'." The film was scripted by crime genre actor Leo Rossi; its cast will include John Travolta as Gotti Sr., Joe Pesci as Gotti's "deputy" Angelo Ruggiero, and Lindsay Lohan as the wife of John Gotti Jr.
Bringing Levinson onboard as director definitely seems like a move in the right direction for Three Generations - after all, he was the man behind such noteworthy titles as Rain Man, Avalon, Bugsy, and Wag the Dog, among others. On the other hand, Levinson is also the fellow behind such less-than-spectacular pics like Toys, Sphere, and Envy, so his involvement doesn't exactly guarantee that the Gotti biopic is going out be an awards contender next fall.
I'm hard-pressed to say exactly how long it's been since Travolta gave what was generally considered a really solid performance in a film, but arguably his hammier acting style could be a nice fit for a character as colorful as John "The Dapper Don" Gotti Sr. Likewise, Pesci and Lohan should do well in their respective roles - especially the former, since mobster parts are easily his specialty.
The role of Gotti Jr. is a pivotal one, but it has yet to be filled. James Franco was at one point considered in the running, but he's now unavailable to work on any new projects for the remainder of 2011. It's difficult for me to say there's an obvious choice in terms of which actor could play the hesitant crime empire heir (a la Al Pacino in the first Godfather); so long as the filmmakers behind the Gotti family drama don't go for an overused, popular star (sorry Robert Pattinson, looking at you) and instead cast someone who truly fits the part, this movie could shape up to be something actually good.
Production on Gotti: Three Generations is expected to begin this fall, with a late 2012 release date in mind.