NEW YORK — Frequently mistaken for New York Yankees manager Joe Torre, Paul Sorvino soon will be putting the likeness to good use. Sorvino has agreed to portray the Yankees skipper in the Showtime biopic about Torre’s 1996 season, when he led the Yankees to a World Series victory.
“It happens we’re the same height, and we have competing noses,” said Sorvino, who, like Torre, is Italian and grew up in New York following the Yankees.
“For me it’s great to be able to play Joe Torre, after I didn’t get the chance to play Babe Ruth, another fellow I look something like. He’s a hometown Italian kid who goes far afield as a player and manager, and comes home never having won anything. Then he wins the World Series with the New York Yankees. The whole thing looks like it was pushed by the hand of God. I wanted to play him right along, then heard Chazz Palminteri was going to do it.”‘
Indeed, when Torre first signed on with Showtime, Palminteri was his suggested choice, but talks broke down.
“I’m thinking, I missed Babe Ruth and now I’ll miss this,” Sorvino said. “For whatever reason, Chazz backed out, they came right to me and I said ‘Yes, yes, yes.’ ”
Sorvino has met Torre only once, when he presented him with an ESPY Award. He hopes to spend some time with the Yankee skipper after returning from Hong Kong, where he’s co-starring with Jean-Claude Van Damme in “Knockoff.”
Sorvino, like many other New Yorkers, knows the story of Torre’s dream season well. After spending 32 years chasing a championship in pro ball, he returned home to lead the Yankees to their first title in 18 seasons. He guided New York’s pennant drive while dealing with the loss of his brother, Rocco, and the imminent demise of his other brother and mentor, Frank, who lay in a hospital playing a waiting game for a heart transplant.
Sorvino said he was particularly impressed by “the way he kept his judgment and poise and baseball savvy, going through everything he went through and prevailing.
“This man went through the worst thing that could happen, to lose a family member and nearly lose another one. Then his brother pulls through and gets a new heart the night before Joe leads the team to the Series-clinching victory.”
Sorvino starts shooting the pic Aug. 5 in Toronto. Showtime plans to air it during the Fall Classic.
Sorvino observes that with the addition of Japanese hurler Hideki Irabu, Torre has a good shot at a return engagement at the Series. Noting that he has put his own opera aspirations on hold as his acting career heated up recently, Sorvino is intrigued by a suggestion that he might test his vocal cords by singing the National Anthem at Yankee Stadium during a playoff or Series game.
“I never even thought of it, but that would sew it all up, wouldn’t it?”
The pic, scripted by Philip Rosenberg, is produced by Norman Twain, with Tom Leahy exec producing. Sorvino is managed by Steven Greener and repped by Gersh’s Larry Taube.