Seven years ago I received an excited call from one of our clients about a script he possessed about a motion picture concerning convicted Mafia Boss John Gotti, the ‘Teflon Don’. My client was so excited about the script and how it was written, from the point of view of Gotti’s son and collaborator John Gotti Jr., that he was stuttering his words. My client told me that he was going to make this picture happen. He told me that in all the years as an actor, producer and the myriad of scripts that came his way over a 50 year career—“ This was the one” he wanted to be known for. This was to be his legacy beside his marriage to an Oscar winner, besides his image as a comedian sit-com star and clown, besides the legacy of owning and operating the first Celebrity only commercial talent agency in the 1970s. The client’s name? Marty Ingels. Yes that’s right. Marty Ingels, the one who married Shirley Jones.
Ingels call to me that night in 2011 was a different Marty Ingels—a happy and motivated thunderburst who knew what had to be done. He promised the screenwriter and partners attached to it that he would bring together the real Gotti family and the star that he felt was the only person that could portray the ‘Teflon Don’ realistically. That would be John Travolta. The obstacles to even get this project to Travolta (not his agents, managers or PR) were almost insurmountable. Ingels knew he had to contact both Travolta and Gotti JR. to pitch, feel them out, and to get them both together privately without their reps, lawyers, and bodyguards. He sent scripts, flowers, chocolates, toys for the kids, gifts for the wives, statements from each side to each side, and to become interpreter between Hollywood and a Mob family. This zealous behavior culminated in the summit meeting between the Travolta and Gotti families with Ingels as the interpreter and mediator. Although Marty had worked tirelessly to make this film happen, he wanted recognition. He wasn’t satisfied with the lack of information getting out about his involvement. He decided to use his own methods so and brought me in.
The night of the summit: On January 24th 2011, Marty Ingels, John Gotti Jr. and a person from the production company with the script, met at a small little Italian restaurant on the outskirts of Beverly Hills. The meeting was secret. Ingels in fact tempted Travolta with this project in many ways-so much that Travolta finally agreed to fly out from his home in Florida to meet with Gotti Jr. and Marty Ingels. Marty was so nervous that on the phone from there he made a joke and compared the meeting to the one in The Godfather in the restaurant scene where Al Pacino, excuses himself to go the restroom to uncover a stashed handgun and came out blasting, killing everyone. Ingels was hilarious even when he was saying “Nice knowing you Ed. I might be found floating in the LA River.”
Travolta and Gotti Jr. requested that this be a secret meeting- NO PRESS. Ingels lied to them and agreed. Ingels then called me and told me what was going to happen. He also told me he wanted to have TMZ, paparazzi and AP and others “hiding in the bushes”. He didn’t want any press to approach anyone as they arrived and went into the building. The dinner went off well. All the parties arrived separately. During the early casual dinner I called in the media and told them the conditions. That it was more or less an ambush. I was hiding with them. TMZ agreed and here is the Breaking news story about Marty Ingels and the Gotti Movie. Travolta runs to his car and denies he is going to do the film. Hilarious sound bite from Ingels as well. http://www.tmz.com/2011/01/25/john-travolta-john-gotti-james-franco-john-gotti-jr-marty-ingles-john-gotti-jr-movie-sony/?adid=TMZ_Search_Results
For the next 6 years Ingels would try to help the complicated producers. Mainly, Ingels didn’t like that fact that there are over 25 producers brought on—not all agreeing. The original film had Joe Pesci as Sammy the Bull, Al Pacino and Lindsay Lohan..and many other stars that Ingels helped corral. We would send out media advisories on his behalf over a 4 year period.
After a few years the film was changing once again with different producers, money sources and even a big time controversial producer Barry Levinson (HBO- Kevorkian and Spector (Al Pacino). Levinson hated Marty Ingels and fired him over a petty matter about talking to the press. Later on Levinson would be out as well and Ingels brought back in at a reduced Producer’s fee but a guarantee his name would be listed as an Executive Producer in the screen credits. At this point Ingels just wanted to see this film get made—no more fighting and threats. On October 21st, 2015, Marty Ingels died of a massive heart attack at home. He never got to realize his dream and the experience of being an Executive Producer of a major motion picture. He was very proud of his work culminating in this film as I was proud of him. Even though the stress of dealing with this film helped kill him, I am looking forward to the film doing well.
Marty was a pal and a good friend. More than just a client for him and Shirley Jones for 21 years. Although the Hollywood Reporter only mentioned Ingels in an article last month, there has not been much press from the Producers of this film on how it came about.. Thank you.
IMDB Cast & Crew with Marty Ingels Credit- https://www.imdb.com/title/