Lion, Dillon gang up on ‘Tough Guy’

'Ghosts' star will produce, perform in mobster pic

MGM has acquired rights to a biopic of New York mobster Eddie Maloney. Matt Dillon will produce and star in the pic.

Dillon is developing the script with screenwriter Mike Jones. It’s based, in part, on Maloney’s autobiography “Tough Guy: The True Story of ‘Crazy’ Eddie Maloney.”

Jones previously wrote a draft of Dillon’s directorial debut, “City of Ghosts,” set for release later this month from MGM/UA.

Maloney was a flinty career criminal who survived multiple assassination attempts. Orphaned as a child, he did stretches in prison for jewelry heists and specialized in kidnapping mob bosses before becoming an informant for the FBI and a witness at the trial of John Gotti.

“The thing that appealed to me is that he never had a choice,” Dillon told Daily Variety. “He was thrown away at a very early age.” The film, he said, “is a story about betrayal.”

Maloney “still holds to this criminal code — a code among criminals,” Jones added, “which in my research is really rare.”

Pic was originally set up at GreeneStreet, where a draft was written by Kevin Kennedy.

MGM VP of production Eric Paquette is overseeing the project, which remains untitled. Dillon said production logistics, including a budget and start date, won’t be clear until he and Jones complete the script.

Jones, repped by Gersh and the Gotham Group, also wrote “Automata” for Stan Winston Prods. and Columbia.

Dillon is repped by Endeavor, the Firm and Vic Ramos.

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