Williams picks up 'Cross'

Ruggiero to adapt Giancana story

Producer Mark Williams has acquired film rights to the novel "Double Cross," about the life of mobster Sam Giancana, hiring Edgar Allan Poe Award winner Alfonse Ruggiero Jr. to script the adaptation.

Written by Giancana's brother, Chuck Giancana, and his nephew Sam Giancana, the book tells the story of how the gangster rose from being a hit man for Al Capone to becoming a powerful don who had links to U.S. presidents including John F. Kennedy. Giancana, who was nicknamed "Momo" because of his unpredictable vicious behavior, was assassinated in 1975 while cooking before he was to appear before a Senate committee investigating CIA and Mafia links to plots to kill Fidel Castro.

Giancana is popular among conspiracy theorists for his connections to popular figures of the day, and the book, first published in 1992, stated that he ordered the deaths of Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe.

When the adaptation is made, it wouldn't be the first time Giancana is portrayed onscreen. He has been the subject of several screen biographies, including one in which he was played by Tony Curtis. Rod Steiger played him in the "Sinatra" miniseries. Producer Mark Wolper at one point was trying to get a Giancana miniseries off the ground for TNT.

Williams, who first developed an interest in the mob when growing up in Chicago and knowing people who had links to the organization, made his name in the infomercial industry, becoming one of its top producers. Among his numerous credits are "How to be Successful in America Today," which is purported to be the first celebrity-hosted infomercial, hosted by E.G. Marshall, as well as titles such as "The Donald Trump Way to Wealth" and Rena Sofer's "National Home Business." He also produced an acclaimed multimedia stage biography of Kennedy called "JFK," which toured the country for four years.

Ruggiero is an editor-turned-writer who established himself in the crime field with credits such as "Miami Vice," "Wiseguy," "Crime & Punishment" and the 1990s television version of "The Untouchables." He won an Edgar for writing an episode of "Wiseguy" along with David Burke.