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Roland Joffe to Direct Mobster Drama ‘The Legitimate Wiseguy’

Roland Joffe will direct the independent mobster drama “The Legitimate Wiseguy,” Variety has learned exclusively.

Joffe received Academy Award nominations for best director for “The Killing Fields” and “The Mission,” which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1986. He also helmed “The Scarlet Letter,” “The Forgiven,” “City of Joy,” “Time Traveller,” and “There Be Dragons.”

“The Legitimate Wiseguy” is based on the true coming-of-age story of veteran writer/producer Nicholas Celozzi, and centers on his relationship with Tony Spilotro, a mob enforcer who was the inspiration behind Joe Pesci’s character of Nicholas “Nicky” Santoro in Martin Scorsese’s 1995 film “Casino.” Spilotro was murdered in 1986.

“Though Tony and I had a father-son relationship, I was playing checkers while he was playing chess,” Celozzi said. “He was always many moves ahead of me.”

Monaco Films is founded by Celozzi and partner Michael Sportelli, who will co-produce “The Legitimate Wiseguy” with financier/developer John Vojtech. The movie will be shot in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Celozzi is a Chicago native and the grandnephew of Chicago crime boss Sam Giancana. He produced the documentary “Momo: The Sam Giancana Story” and “Kickboxer: Vengeance,” and exec produced “Kickboxer: Retaliation.”

Joffe is repped by Gersh and Craig Baumgarten of Zero Gravity Management.

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