by Nick Christophers
There are many authors who attempted to revive the spirit that delved in the mind of Joey Gallo. But there was yet to be someone who could capture it and bring it to life. One such author dug deep into the world of Joey Gallo and came up with The Mad Ones.
The book evolves around the artistic side of Joey Gallo and his desire for the spotlight and the celebrity status he craved. Tom Folsom is known as a documentarian who is an avid reader of contemporary literature.
His first documentary was on Ernest Hemingway: Wrestling with Life and The Lost Generation which was aired on A&E; Biography. Following that he was apart of the Emmy-award-winning Blood Money: Switzerland s Nazi Gold for A&E; Special Reports.
I believe Joey would have definitely appreciated Hemingway's work and style. I produced the show in Sun Valley where Hemingway shot himself. I went to many of his haunts it helped me get to know his work, Tom added.
His credits did not stop there most recently Folsom produced Neo-Noir, an official entry in the Sundance Film Festival, and directed The Road to Gulu, which premiered on Showtime and was an official selection for the Aspen Shorts Festival.
On the TV side he showcased programs on fringe religions for MSNBC Investigates. His first attempt at investigating the underworld was with Leroy Nicky Barnes. Leroy Barnes was known as a drug kingpin in Harlem in the late 60 s and had close contact to the bossof the Harlem rackets, Frank Lucas.
Tom co-authored the book Mr. Untouchable, which chronicles the life of Leroy Nicky Barnes, who is currently in the Federal Witness Protection Program. Tom then decided to tackle the story of Joey Gallo from a different angle. In addition, Tom was drawn to the fact that Joey was also an avid reader.
Joey tried to incorporate all the things he was reading into his daily life which I found interesting.
During the same time that Joey was trying to battle in his world a similar battle was taking place on the streets of the Village. You had people like Bob Dylan playing on McDougal Street and intellectuals conversing in cafes about revolution and how to fight the system.
Those same feelings Joey diverted them into action. Tom points out many of these facts in his book that carries you through the artsy world that few understood.
Joey became like a folk hero. Almost everyone had a Joey Gallo story. You sometimes get this reaction from a story about Joey. He was very three dimensional.
Tom wanted his book to be a great gangster story but at the same time he wanted to develop Joey as this diverse figure. He felt that Joey wanted to re-invent himself to remove himself from the system which was a parallel to what was going on in that time.
It was as Tom explained, There was a revolution going on not only in society but also in the Mafia.
The world back then was in the middle of turmoil a time of desperate change. Joey also was in a world of turmoil of its own.
He was a doomed individual from the beginning. Since wanting to be an artist and a gangster at the same time did not mix.
Most of Tom s research was gathered from the aide of the FBI who furnished Tom with 1500 pages on Joey Gallo. The Gallo s were not as crucial to the FBI as the Profaci and Gambinos of the world.
Yet they did hold some weight. As Tom explained the police were always on President Street yet there always was a mutual respect on both sides of the street.
Since the police and the wiseguys had this mutual respect for each other the police learned a few things about the Mafia that was a mystery to them before. revealed Tom.
From going over the official transcripts Tom learned many unknown facts that were never revealed. This helped Tom to place himself in that time period. He needed to immerse himself with any kind of literature written on his subject. This assisted him to understand his main character better.
This project was a very different world for Tom to investigate but it hooked him quickly. He also admits that working on the Leroy Barnes story made it easier for him to adapt to the Mad Ones novel. Tom also interviewed individuals that lived through that time.
Nicky actually opened me up to many of the rules of the game. This was helpful in developing the Gallo story.
Tom also admits that the American Gangster film was more Hollywood than what it was truly like based on his discussions with Leroy Barnes. On the subject of films there is talk on the table that the Mad Ones maybe adapted to film.
The book is being published by Weinstein Books, which is owned by Harvey and Bob Weinstein, and has been optioned for film by The Weinstein Company. It would make a great movie."
If Tom had a choice he would think Leonardo DiCaprio would be perfect to play Joey Gallo. He feels that you would need a disciplined character to play his part and that DiCaprio is just that.
It will be a knockout film. It is the other side of the Godfather. Joey s antics, terminology and mannerisms were later mimicked by real life mobsters.
Tom truly believed it was a fascinating life that Joey lived and it has yet to have been brought to film the way it would through this book. On the horizon Tom is focusing on another New York story a suspense crime novel.
A larger than life New York crime story which takes place in the 70 s yet he would divulge not much more than that. Look out for the Mad Ones and keep a sharp eye on the next Tom Folsom epic.