Cabler, Paramount, Evans set miniseries
HBO, Paramount Pictures and Robert Evans are teaming to tell the epic story of Sidney Korshak.
Chicago attorney Korshak came to Hollywood and leveraged relationships with politicians, labor leaders, showbiz and the underworld to become the ultimate behind-the-scenes showbiz fixer.
The pay web has acquired “The Devil and Sidney Korshak,” a Vanity Fair article by Nick Tosches, as source material.
Evans will be exec producer of a six-hour miniseries for HBO that Art Monterastelli will script.
Project will be a co-production of HBO Prods. and Paramount. The link is Brad Grey, who has a close association with HBO through his years as exec producer of “The Sopranos.”
For Evans, the deal is the culmination of years spent trying to mount a Paramount feature on Korshak, who served as trustee of the Central States Teamsters Fund and maintained relationships with the likes of Lew Wasserman and Henry Kissinger.
“You can’t tell this story in just two hours,” Evans said. “He was such a powerful figure in the last half of the 20th century that this is the only way to do it.”
Before Korshak died in 1996, Evans said he spent 300 days a year with the kingpin. The producer has done voluminous research on the project.
“This will be the saga of what the New York Times once called the most powerful man in the country, and yet he was a total mystery,” Evans said. “I consider him the godfather’s godfather, but he never had a misdemeanor and died a totally innocent man. He didn’t have an office; everything was done from the corner table at the Bistro in Beverly Hills, and everything was in his head.”
Evans watched Korshak make the calls that shut down Vegas casinos in the 1970s, when owners weren’t budging to solve a dispute with a culinary union. The dispute was settled shortly thereafter.
More important to Evans, Korshak came to the rescue when Evans headed Paramount and encountered seemingly two seemingly insurmountable problems while he tried to make “The Godfather.” Namely, Al Pacino was committed to star in MGM’s “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.” Also, real mobsters threatened to kill Evans if he dared try to shoot the film in New York.
MGM’s Jim Aubrey refused to let Pacino out of his deal. Korshak called studio owner Kirk Kerkorian and made it clear that his effort to complete construction on the MGM Grand would be smoother if Pacino was freed up. Evans suddenly had his actor.
The mob threats were a thornier issue.
“That problem went away with one phone call from Sidney. Not two phone calls, one phone call. He was my goodwill ambassador,” Evans recalled.
Monterastelli most recently wrote the HBO Films drama “Rampart.”