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Joe Pesci is suing Fiore Films for $3 million and punitive damages after claiming they cut his role and salary in their John Gotti biopic, Gotti: In the Shadow of My Father.
Pesci claims he was offered $3 million to play Gotti pal and enforcer Angelo Ruggiero, according to the lawsuit obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. He had already gained 30 pounds for the part.
Pesci admits in his lawsuit that a contract was never signed, but he assumed it was a done deal because Fiore announced his name at a press conference at the Cannes Film Festival and in promotional material. But Fiore CEO Marc Fiore argues that Pesci’s reps told him he wouldn’t finalize a deal to star in the movie until a new director was chosen. Nick Cassavetes withdrew earlier this year, Barry Levinson has since signed on to replace him.
“Defendant has no intention of paying [Pesci] $3 million or having him portray Ruggiero in the film,” reads the suit. “Rather, plaintiff secretly planned to use [Pesci’s] name and likeness to promote the film and then to later concoct some pretext for terminating the contract so as to avoid paying plaintiff anything for the substantial publicity and ‘buzz’ that was generated.”
Pesci says he was offered the smaller part of Anthony “Gaspipe” Casso and a $1 million fee.
Fiore says he will fight Pesci, who won an Oscar for mob film, Goodfellas: “He’s wasting his time and everybody else’s time…. I might be a newbie in town, [but] this newbie is not going to get bullied around.”
John Travolta, Kelly Preston and Lindsay Lohan are set to star in the biopic.
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