The elder Franzese passed away on Sunday at the age of 103.
Franzese Jr. became active in the family business during the 1980s, leading to a life of overindulgence. After falling victim to drug addiction, he was excommunicated from the family and hit rock bottom, living directionless on the streets. Franzese Jr. sought help through a 12-step program, which ultimately led him to the witness protection program as well. He found that the only way to achieve peace with himself was to come clean of the crimes he had committed and work with the FBI to bring his former consiglieres to justice, including his father. In 2010, he became the first son of a New York mobster to testify in court against his father.
With the help of Franzese Jr.’s testimony, his father was sentenced in 2011 to eight years in prison, and Franzese Jr. was placed in the witness protection program in Indianapolis under a new identity. He eventually left the program so that he could finally achieve reconciliation with his father, which he did last year.
“While there have been great mob movies in cinematic history, there has never been one quite like this,” said Permut. “With the canvas of Sonny’s reign within the Colombo crime family, and the complexity of this father-son relationship, the betrayal and ultimate reconciliation is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.”
Jared Moshe, who brought in the story, will be serving as an executive producer on the project. Permut is looking for a screenwriter and/or filmmaker to develop the story.
Permut and Bill Mechanic received Oscar nominations best picture for “Hacksaw Ridge.” With this recent acquisition, Permut is further expanding on his slate of true stories, having produced “Polka King,” starring Jack Black, for Netflix.
He’s also developing “Sheela” for Amazon with Priyanka Chopra and director Barry Levinson. The film is about the Rajneesh cult seizing control of a small town in Oregon. Netflix’s “The Legend of Cocaine Island,” another one of his projects, stars Will Ferrell as family man who attempts to dig up a bag filled with cocaine after the housing market crash in 2008.
Permut is also in development on the recently announced reboot of “Face/Off” at Paramount.