Italy – Sunday Confession

Goodfellas

The term “mafia” comes from Sicily, Italy, and let’s be honest, the most famous of mobsters all hail from the Italian line of organized crime, also known as Cosa Nostra, which translated means “Our Thing.” And, it certainly is THEIR thing. While the term ‘Omertà’ governs the mafia with a code of silence, the Sip Advisor is breaking all the rules with our own ‘Most Wanted’ list of infamous Italian gangsters:

Vito Cascioferro

Thought of as the ‘Boss of Bosses’ during his reign at the top, Cascioferro was arrested approximately 69 times during his career, but always acquitted. His luck ran out in June 1930, when Cascioferro was tried for numerous offences, including murder, attempted murder, robbery, extortion, and other offences. He was convicted and given a life sentence. He died in prison somewhere between 1943-45, with many inmates considering it an honour to now fill the same jail cell.

Mafia Cats

Calogero Vizzini

Dubbed the ‘King of the Black Market,’ Vizzini was even made mayor of Villalba, Italy (where his crime family was based), following World War II. Vizzini’s death was big news, even reported by the New York Times. Thousands turned out for the leader’s funeral, including other bosses, politicians, and priests. Vizzini predicted that the mafia would die with him and the old-school version did slowly dissolve, but was replaced by a more modern mob that we recognize today.

Michele Navarra

The boss of the famed Corleone family (also used for the Godfather movies) from 1944-58, Navarra was also a trained physician and perhaps this is why he was more likely to delegate murders than commit them himself. Navarra was killed on August 2, 1958 after feuding with former associate Luciano Leggio, whom Navarra tried to have ambushed by 15 gunmen, yet somehow Leggio survived with only minor injuries. I’d question his leadership, too!

Luciano Leggio

Speaking of Leggio, he became the Corleone boss following Navarra’s death and is credited with starting the Second Mafia War. After a string of acquittals on various charges, Leggio finally found himself sentenced to life imprisonment for Navarra’s slaying, but disappeared, running a successful kidnapping ring while on the run. He was finally caught in 1974, but continued to have influence over the syndicate from behind bars. He died in prison, of a heart attack in 1993.

Mafia Comic

Salvatore Riina

After Leggio was arrested in the 1970’s, Riina eventually took over control of the Corleone family, which was ironic because he was one of the suspects in the assassination of Navarra. Riina was considered the ‘Boss of Bosses’ following the Second Mafia War. Nicknamed ‘The Beast,’ by fellow mobsters, this 5’2” leader used a campaign of violence to achieve power, killing rivals, as well as prosecutors and other government officials. Riina was arrested in 1993, after 23 years as a fugitive.

Bernardo Provenzano

One of the most powerful Sicilian bosses of all-time, Provenzano followed Riina as leader of the Corleone family. Once at the helm, Provenzano worked to change the perception of the mafia to being less violent, more diplomatic and willing to work with established institutions. Under the new guidelines, violence was only to be used if absolutely necessary. Despite all that, Provenzano spent more than 40 years evading police capture, before authorities finally arrested him in April 2006.

Italy: Sunday Confession

Sunday Confession Cocktail

  • 1 oz Limoncello
  • 1 oz Tequila
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Top with Ginger Ale
  • Garnish with a Cherry

This all has me wanting to go back and watch some of the best mafia media. Take your pick, but my favourites include The Godfather franchise, Goodfellas, The Sopranos, and Donnie Brasco. Perhaps I’ll have to do a future article on fictional mobsters… so long as they make me an offer I can’t refuse!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail has a perfect name for a mafia-related article, although confession would certainly go against the Omertà code of silence. I used Cranberry Ginger Ale instead of the recommended Ginger Beer because it seemed like a good idea and it worked out really well. Limoncello and Tequila was a decent mix, too.

November 15 – The Soprano

Turn Down Service

For some actors, taking a TV role when you’re considered a movie star is a step down. That just provides an opportunity for another talent to step in, knock the performance out of the park and end up doing better in the long run than the one who originally turned his nose up at the project. Here are some examples of folks who passed up on TV glory (for whatever reason):

Ray Liotta as Tony Soprano (The Sopranos)

Ray Liotta, star of movies like Goodfellas, turned down the landmark role because he wanted to focus on movies. In the time he could have been playing the mobster, Liotta made numerous films, but nothing particularly memorable. Of course James Gandolfini took the role and ran with it… straight to three Emmy’s, which launched his own chance to enter the movie world before his untimely death earlier this year.

liotta-soprano

Tom Selleck as Mitch Buchannon (Baywatch)

Tom Selleck turned down the head lifeguard role, as he didn’t want to be a sex symbol… to which I’ve always said, “too late, Mr. Magnum!” Selleck’s role refusal did give David Hasselhoff and his German minions another chance to rejoice and without it, Hasselhoff’s infamous downward spiral might have gone unnoticed. Seriously, though, who hasn’t tried to eat a floor cheeseburger in a drunken stupor!?

Michael Richards as Adrian Monk (Monk)

Fresh off his stint as crazy neighbor Cosmo Kramer on Seinfeld, Michael Richards was offered the role of obsessive compulsive disorder suffering detective Adrian Monk, but he wasn’t interested in the role. ABC let the show slip away to the USA Network, which cast Tony Shalhoub , who played the intricately troubled ex-cop perfectly. Richards instead went on a racial slur-laced rant at a comedy club and would probably pay for work now.

Craig T. Nelson as Jay Pritchett (Modern Family)

Craig T. Nelson hasn’t evaded the question of why he turned down a role on the wildly popular Modern Family. He is quoted as saying the money just wasn’t good enough. The former Coach star did go on to snag up the next patriarchal role to come his way on Parenthood, leaving the living legend, Al Bundy himself, Ed O’Neill to step in a lead the 21st century family… as well as cuddle up to Sofia Vergara!

nelson-pritchett

Dana Delaney as Carrie Bradshaw (Sex and the City)

Ms. Delaney passed on the iconic role because she didn’t want to be in a show about sex… then why audition for a show called SEX and the City!? And really, what show doesn’t have some element of sex in it. Hell, even Sesame Street has toyed with the idea of Bert and Ernie being romantically involved! Sarah Jessica Parker took the part and became a cosmopolitan swigging female hero. Honestly, I don’t even know who Delaney is…

Thomas Jane as Don Draper (Mad Men)

I’ve already professed my hatred for Mad Men and apparently Thomas Jane, The Punisher, agrees with me! He didn’t think an intellectual show on a channel (AMC) known for movie reruns would work. You win some, you lose some. Jon Hamm stepped in and gets to drink tons of whiskey, while being lauded for an incredibly awful show. Some guys have all the luck.

Michael Keaton as Jack Shepard (Lost)

I’ve never watched Lost, but Ma and Pa Sip were die-hard fans. Apparently the character of Jack was supposed to not live past the pilot episode. When writers changed their plans, the former Batman backed out, thus avoiding the most confusing plot in television history and likely countless headaches from trying to get an understanding of what was going on!

Drink #319: The Soprano

The Soprano Drink Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Bourbon
  • 1.5 oz Amaretto (I used Disaronno)
  • 0.5 oz Southern Comfort
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with an Orange Wheel

Well, that wraps up our look at those that have turned down TV roles. I myself have turned down a couple characters in my childhood acting days: Bud Bundy on Married with Children; Zack Morris on Saved by the Bell, and Alf on, well Alf. Think of the money I’ve missed out on…

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
Early this year, I made The Godfather cocktail. This is the Americanized version of said drink, with the use of Bourbon and Southern Comfort. I liked the recipe, but those who aren’t fans of strong, liquor-heavy beverages might want to avoid it. It wasn’t overly heavy, but it was pretty potent.