DiCaprio will produce through his Warner Bros.-based Appian Way banner with his father, George, who brought the book to his son’s attention. Appian Way’s Earl Katz will exec produce.
Warners, which handled Oliver Stone’s “JFK” in 1991, is eyeing a possible 2013 release of “Legacy of Secrecy” coinciding with the 50th anni of President Kennedy’s assassination.
DiCaprio is expected to play FBI informant Jack Van Laningham. The book — whose full title is “Legacy of Secrecy: The Long Shadow of the JFK Assassination” — asserts that Mafia godfather Carlos Marcello confessed to Van Laningham to having ordered JFK’s assassination. As part of a dangerous and long-secret undercover operation, the FBI positioned Van Laningham to become confidant to Marcello, who ruled organized crime in Louisiana and most of Texas for decades.
“Legacy of Secrecy” includes information from declassified FBI files from the National Archives which details the FBI’s clandestine operation with Van Laningham and Marcello’s JFK confession. The book also included information from FBI and Secret Service files showing that more than a dozen of Marcello’s associates and family members were questioned or arrested by authorities in assocation with the JFK assassination.Marcello, who died in 1993, has not yet been the subject of a feature film. Marcello’s name did not appear in the 1964 Warren Report, but the 1979 House Select Committee on Assassinations said mobster Santo Trafficante and Marcello “had the motive, means, and opportunity to assassinate President Kennedy.”
As part of Warner’s deal for “Legacy of Secrecy,” Waldron is retaining documentary film and TV rights to the book, which also says the Mafia played a role in the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and in Watergate. Appian Way’s Katz will produce one of the documentaries.
DiCaprio was last seen in “Inception.” Appian Way’s a producer on “Red Riding Hood,” due out in March from Warners, and on the George Clooney-Ryan Gosling starrer “The Ides of March,” currently in pre-production.