Life magazine once called him "the mob's young genius," detailing his organized-crime exploits in a five-page spread. Fortune included him on its 1986 chart of "The 50 Biggest Mafia Bosses." The U.S. government convicted him in 1986 on racketeering charges, sentencing him to 10 years.
Now, Michael Franzese--stepson of John (Sonny) Franzese, alleged enforcer of a New York crime family, who's currently imprisoned--is back in Hollywood, renewing his career as a producer.
Through Cammy-Co. Prods. (named for his wife, Cammy), Franzese, 38, is exec producing "Stryker's Force." According to co-producer Leon Isaac Kennedy, the action-thriller, now being cast, is the first of three planned projects.
Franzese is also working with CBS on a miniseries--packaged by his agency, ICM--about his life.
In the mid-'80s, Franzese produced four low-budget films. One, "Knights of the City" (1986), starred Kennedy. According to the Life magazine piece, Franzese kept up his wheeling and dealing from behind bars.
"We stayed in touch while he served his time," said Kennedy, explaining that they began talking their film projects "about four or five months ago." (Franzese was released in May.)
"As far as I'm concerned, he's paid his debt to society. And now he's starting again--his life is on a whole new course.
"One of the great things about America," Kennedy added, "is that you \o7 can \f7 start again."