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9/19/2017 7:27:10 PM
Posted: 8/5/2002 12:16:08 PM EDT
Here are three stories that I found in L.A. Times about this action hero ===================================================== Los Angeles Times: When Life Imitates a B-Movie [url]http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-et-seagal12jul12.story[/url] COLUMN ONE When Life Imitates a B-Movie Steven Seagal's ex-partner, accused of plotting with mob figures to extort money from the star, calls their saga a "magic carpet ride." By PAUL LIEBERMAN Times Staff Writer July 12 2002 NEW YORK -- When Steven Seagal first surfaced in Hollywood, as a ponytailed 6-foot-4 martial arts expert, he offered a background story full of murk and menace. He hinted in hushed tones of having done "special favors" for the CIA. Whether anyone believed him hardly mattered-what counted was how he put over the tough-guy image in films that cast him as a lone avenger caught in ominous conspiracies. Julius R. Nasso showed up in town as a wannabe of a different sort. He presented himself as the poor immigrant from Brooklyn who started a pharmaceutical business with $500 saved from a clerk's job-in a church. Then he set out, like so many others, to make movies. And for him, it happened. During a partnership that lasted more than a decade, Seagal starred in films that grossed hundreds of millions of dollars, and Nasso helped produce them. They were close, almost like brothers. Seagal bought the house next to Nasso's mansion on Staten Island and they often dressed alike, all in black, just in different sizes. Nasso was a foot shorter than the imposing actor. Nasso also was the easy one to deal with. Like many performers, Seagal could be self-centered and moody-"a stubborn, maniacal idiot," as he once described himself. But it was hard to find anyone who didn't like Nasso. "I would go in," he said, "and clean up the mess." Yet it was worth it, he insisted. Every minute with Seagal. "I went on the magic carpet ride with him," Nasso explained. He says that even as the magic carpet threatens to land him in prison. Nasso is free on $1.5-million bail, preparing his defense against a federal indictment that depicts him as an associate of the Gambino crime family, ruled in recent years by John Gotti and his kin. Last month, prosecutors revealed that a microphone planted to get evidence of mob influence over New York-area docks had picked up a meeting in a restaurant between the 49-year-old Nasso and a local Mafia captain. Their alleged topic of conversation? A scheme to extort hundreds of thousands of dollars from "an individual in the film industry" who was not named but whose identity was no secret: the don't-mess-with-me actor who broke noses and bones on screen. -- continued --
Link Posted: 8/5/2002 12:17:43 PM EDT
Only a few snippets of dialogue have been released, but one has Nasso saying to the mob capo, "Tell me what I have to do and I'll do it." It seemed like a plot turn out of the thrillers that earned Seagal and Nasso their stripes-and another chapter in the long history of mutual fascination between tough-guy actors and their real-world counterparts. Seagal, who is expected to be a key prosecution witness against Nasso and reputed mob enforcers, is talking only through his lawyers-who insist he had no knowledge that his partner might have had such friends. Nasso, even while denying any wrongdoing, wonders how Seagal could profess ignorance on that point. Didn't he know the kind of people Nasso grew up around? Wasn't one of Nasso's brothers married to a Gambino? "How could he not know?" Nasso asked. So Nasso sat down recently to fill in what Hollywood calls the "back story" to a relationship he uses a film analogy to explain. "It was like 'Fatal Attraction,' " Nasso said, "without the sex." Where Did They Meet? What attracted him first was Hollywood. He noticed right away how "anyone could walk around and say, 'I'm a producer.' " He sensed that to become a real player, "you have to do your time." He saw Seagal as his way to do it. Nasso has often said he met Seagal in Japan, while on business for Universal Marine Medical Supplies, his Brooklyn-based company that sells pharmaceuticals and health gear to cruise lines and merchant ships. Nasso said he needed a translator and looked up Seagal, who was fluent in the language: He'd been married to a Japanese woman and had run a martial arts studio in Japan. Nasso sometimes told people he and Seagal were distant cousins. They're not, and the whole Japan story is "puffery," Nasso now acknowledges. He now says they met in Los Angeles in early 1987. Nasso had been bitten by the show biz bug seven years earlier, when Italian director Sergio Leone came to Brooklyn to film the mob saga "Once Upon a Time in America." Actor Danny Aiello, who was in it, said that Nasso caught on as a translator and gofer for the director. Nasso, whose parents emigrated from Italy when he was 3, spoke Italian and English with equal ease. After that, when Nasso came to L.A. on business, he would look up actors from his old Brooklyn neighborhood. One was Jimmy Baio, who had gotten his break in the spoof sitcom "Soap." Baio said Nasso was wide-eyed around anyone on TV and in the movies, and jumped at the chance to attend sitcom tapings. Baio said he brought Nasso to a party where Seagal was a guest, and the two hit it off. -- continued --
Link Posted: 8/5/2002 12:19:12 PM EDT
In later years, Nasso led friends to believe he "created" the star-to-be, molding everything from Seagal's squint-eyed stare to his pulled-back hairstyle. In reality, Seagal had long-standing Hollywood dreams of his own. His first wife, Miyako Fujitani, recalls him plotting out script ideas after they met in 1974, when he was 23. "He developed a story about a foreigner becoming a dojo master, then went on to the U.S.," she said. By the time Nasso met him, Seagal had a new Hollywood wife, actress Kelly LeBrock, and a powerful booster, "superagent" Michael Ovitz. Ovitz's agency set up a demonstration so Warner Bros. executives could see Seagal flip aside a parade of attackers. The result was his screen debut, at 37, in "Above the Law," about a former CIA operative who discovers nefarious plots in the agency. Before it hit theaters in 1988, Seagal was profiled in a Times piece that cast a skeptical eye on his vague stories of having a "CIA godfather" in Japan. But it also found the gun-enthusiast actor a plausible rival to such reigning action kings as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, and he was: "Above the Law" brought in 2 1/2 times its $7.5-million budget. Nasso describes himself as basically an unpaid intern on Seagal's first movies, learning what he could with one goal: "recognition." One thing he was able to do for Seagal, friends say, was set up a dinner with Leone during a promotional trip to Italy. Nasso also invited the actor to spend time at his waterfront house, "the most beautiful home in Staten Island," Baio said. One room was filled with glass-enclosed models of the Titanic and other ships. "He did want to impress Steven, and it worked," Baio said. When Seagal decided to form his own production company, it became Seagal Nasso Productions. Nasso got his first credit on Seagal's third movie, "Marked for Death," as an associate producer. He moved up to executive producer on "Out for Justice," which was filmed in 1990 on his old turf, Brooklyn. Nasso was ready for his recognition. A New York public relations man pitched him as "a Horatio Alger character." Three newspapers did profiles tracing his rise from humble roots, one account saying he had two doctorates, apparently not realizing that Nasso proudly counts a 1979 testimonial dinner at Fordham University as the equivalent of an honorary degree and bases his other on a membership certificate from the Connecticut Pharmaceutical Assn. Another profile mentioned that his early jobs included pouring concrete for an "influential uncle," with no mention of how the elder Nasso's name had come up at a 1980s mob trial. According to testimony, the uncle attended a meeting with the then-head of the Gambino crime family to discuss the contract to pour concrete for the Jacob Javits Convention Center. -- continued --
Link Posted: 8/5/2002 12:22:31 PM EDT
Although a lawyer for Seagal called the allegation "absurd," the actor's religious life drew headlines in 1997, when a well-recognized Tibetan Buddhist leader named him a "tulku," a reincarnation "of the [17th century] treasure revealer Chungdrag Dorje." Seagal heard the jokes. "They think the lamas are taking bribes," he said during a Buddhist retreat in Colorado. "Well, lamas don't have TVs and they don't know what a movie star is ... and they have said there is no doubt that I am tulku." That year, Warner Bros. ended its exclusive production deal with Seagal and Nasso, with a studio executive saying, "This guy has been on a downhill run." According to Nasso's subsequent suit, that provided the opening for him and Seagal to "develop, produce and market" projects on their own. He said he bought scripts and went overseas to sell $25.3 million in foreign rights to four films, "all of which stated that he [Seagal] was to be the star." But only one was made: "Prince of Central Park," with Nasso's 13-year-old son playing an abused child who flees to the park. Harvey Keitel ended up playing the gnome who befriends him after Seagal "refused to appear," Nasso complained. Seagal's lawyers say there was no "enforceable contract" requiring him to act in those films. New York attorney Martin L. Perschetz said there also were "solid business reasons" for Seagal to move away from his partner. Nasso had proved to be "unproductive and unprofessional ... like showing up late on the set" and was "rude and boisterous toward other people," another Seagal spokesman said. Seagal may simply have had better offers. Although he was nearing 50, getting on for an action hero, Warner Bros. gave him a comeback shot in "Exit Wounds," with rapper DMX. Seagal was slimmed down, and without his ponytail, for the filming in Toronto in August 2000. Soon after, Daily Variety ran a short item reporting that Nasso was "moving away from action pics to softer fare" and forming his own company in New York. Seagal closed their L.A. office. Federal prosecutors said that's about when the mob began conspiring to extort "a figure in the motion picture industry." Conversation Taped After a team of FBI agents arrived at Nasso's front door with handcuffs, at 6 a.m. on June 4, attorneys for the producer offered their own explanation of the charges: retaliation by Seagal. In March, Nasso had filed his suit seeking $60 million in damages for the actor's failure to do the four films. "Do you think it's a coincidence that this happens after that?" asked Nasso's civil lawyer, Robert J. Hantman. But federal prosecutors said it was coincidence-almost a fluke, in fact, that they uncovered the plot against Seagal. -- continued --
Link Posted: 8/5/2002 12:24:41 PM EDT
His lawyers would not let him talk about the restaurant conversation or those acquaintances. But Nasso went on for hours recently about his Hollywood career. Even with what's on the line-"my freedom, my life"-he was eager to be seen as a legitimate player in that world. Nasso has compiled a list of moments: a 1991 lunch at Le Cirque with Terry Semel, then chief executive of Warner Bros.; going with Donald Trump to the 1993 opening of the studio's store in Manhattan; going with Seagal to David Letterman's show to promote "On Deadly Ground." On it goes, year by year. He produced proclamations praising him for bringing filming to local streets, one declaring "Julius Nasso Day" on Staten Island. He reached in his wallet to show his Directors Guild card. "You don't get one of these," he says, "hanging around a cafe." He is not the only one in his family embroiled in the criminal case. One of his brothers, Vincent, 43, is accused of paying the mob $400,000 in kickbacks in return for a three-year contract to administer a union prescription plan. A second brother in health care, a chiropractor, was not implicated. He's the one who in 1989 married a daughter of Johnny Gambino, an imprisoned mob captain. Nasso says he and Seagal were so close by then, "he escorted my mother up the aisle .... Steven was the star of the wedding." Seagal's camp says that he is "still a big star," with two new films in the can and two more on deck. He also produces soothing herbal "essential oils," which are sold worldwide, on his Diamond Lotus Ranch near Mt. Shasta. As for Nasso, he can't help worrying whether his magic carpet ride is over-with his pharmaceutical business. Since his arrest, "it's down 50%," he says. But Hollywood? "Something like this makes you bigger out there," he said, with amazement. How dare the prosecutor describe him in court as a "self-styled" producer? As friend Aiello sees it, the great irony was in what Nasso did after the split from Seagal. He made movies. One, called "One Eyed King," is in the can. Nasso also was a producer of "Narc," which was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in January. That film, starring Ray Liotta, goes into nationwide release this fall. Tom Cruise signed on as an executive producer. Nasso wouldn't miss the premiere if his life depended on it. "Why wouldn't I go?" he asked Thursday. "The film is a Julius R. Nasso Production." _ _ _ If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at latimes.com/archives. For information about reprinting this article, go to www.lats.com/rights. Copyright 2002 Los Angeles Times
Link Posted: 8/5/2002 12:27:16 PM EDT
Los Angeles Times: Mob Said to Have Threatened Actor [url]http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-mob12jun12.story[/url] Mob Said to Have Threatened Actor Courts: Steven Seagal is widely believed to be the murder target in extortion case. By PAUL LIEBERMAN and ANITA M. BUSCH Times Staff Writers June 12 2002 NEW YORK -- The Mafia captain who rules the Staten Island waterfront threatened to kill an entertainment figure, identified previously as actor Steven Seagal, as part of a multimillion-dollar extortion scheme, federal prosecutors alleged Tuesday in court in Brooklyn. Anthony "Sonny" Ciccone "demanded millions of dollars from this individual and threatened his life," Assistant U.S. Atty. Andrew Genser said at a court hearing for the accused Gambino family docks boss, whose relatives and supporters wept and muttered from the courtroom benches as he was ordered held without bail pending trial on wide-ranging racketeering charges. Ciccone, 67, was among 17 alleged Gambino higher-ups, soldiers and "associates" arrested last week under an indictment charging them mostly with plots to exert influence over the local waterfronts and the longshore workers union. But prosecutors said electronic surveillance in the case also uncovered evidence that Ciccone and two others, including Seagal's former producing partner, Julius R. "Jules" Nasso, were attempting to extort money from an "entertainment figure." Nasso, 49, of Staten Island, had a 15-year business relationship with Seagal until a bitter falling-out and filed a $60-million lawsuit against the actor in March, alleging that the star of films such as "Under Siege" had backed out of a contract to perform in four movies. Attorneys for Nasso, who was freed last week on $1.5-million bond, have called the extortion charges "absurd" and alleged that they are Seagal's retaliation for the civil suit. But in court Tuesday, Genser and another federal prosecutor on the case said that none of the victims in the case "came to the government," and that all--presumably including Seagal--were "reluctant" and frightened witnesses. Genser also disclosed that secret recordings of conversations between Ciccone and others, including Nasso, included talk of death threats against the film figure. Ciccone is heard "admitting on tape he's been threatening to kill this person ... there's a long discussion on tape," the prosecutor said. "He's basically stating to the world what the motto is: 'Hey, I get the money.'" The indictment does not name Seagal, or any other target of the mob group, and prosecutors did not name him in court. -- continued --
Link Posted: 8/5/2002 12:28:45 PM EDT
But parties in the case have confirmed that the actor is the alleged victim in two counts of the 68-count federal indictment unsealed last week. Attorneys for Nasso, who is charged with conspiracy to extort and attempted extortion, said they have not heard the tapes and questioned whether he was caught talking with the alleged mob captain in a Staten Island restaurant, as prosecutors allege. An attorney for Ciccone, George Santangelo, dismissed partial transcripts released so far--short portions of which were played in court Tuesday--as vague and "hardly illuminating as to what they're talking about." Though the indictment alleges many threats, it does not "show any violence whatsoever" by Ciccone, Santangelo added, saying that the New Jersey resident had "disassociated himself" from any involvement with the mob a decade ago. The indictment alleged that the extortion scheme against the unnamed entertainment figure ran from September 2000 to last month and involved "wrongful use of actual and threatened force, violence and fear." Previously released documents alleged that Ciccone once was overheard instructing Nasso to demand $150,000 per film from the actor. On another occasion, Ciccone "excoriated Nasso" after hearing that the producer had promised to share some of the extorted money with others without "prior approval," prosecutors alleged. After listening to the short excerpts from the prosecution's tapes Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate A. Simon Chrein ruled that Ciccone and his alleged right-hand man, Primo Cassarino, would pose a danger if released before trial. Prosecutors have said that Ciccone became a "powerful captain" in the mob family during the rule of John Gotti, the "Dapper Don" who died Monday, then continued to serve under Gotti's brother Peter, who also has been indicted in the current case. _ _ _ Lieberman reported from New York, Busch from Los Angeles. If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at latimes.com/archives. For information about reprinting this article, go to www.lats.com/rights. Copyright 2002 Los Angeles Times
Link Posted: 8/5/2002 12:30:22 PM EDT
Los Angeles Times: Alleged Extortion of Actor Detailed [url]http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/front/la-me-seagal17jul17.story?coll=la%2Dhome%2Dtodays%2Dtimes[/url] Alleged Extortion of Actor Detailed Court: Brief says mobsters tried to force Steven Seagal to pay thousands of dollars for not appearing in his ex-partner's films. By PAUL LIEBERMAN Times Staff Writer July 17 2002 BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- New York-based Mafia figures pursued their attempted extortion of a "petrified" Steven Seagal in Canada, on the West Coast and in a restaurant here, according to newly filed court papers. In one episode resembling a scene from "The Godfather," Seagal's former producing partner, Julius "Jules" R. Nasso, startled the action star by switching the location of a meeting "at the last moment" and taking him to the Brooklyn restaurant, where mob captain Anthony "Sonny" Ciccone demanded money from the actor, federal prosecutors said in a legal brief. Two weeks later, an FBI bug recorded the mob crew joking about the incident, the brief added. After Ciccone bragged to associates of how he "didn't acknowledge" the movie star at the restaurant, his right-hand man commented, "I wish we had a gun on us; that would have been funny," according to the brief. Then Julius Nasso's brother, Vincent, is quoted as quipping, "It was like right out of the movies." The evidence is detailed in a 52-page brief that led a judge here Tuesday to continue to deny bail to Ciccone, 67, whom the government describes as the Gambino crime family capo "responsible for overseeing ... criminal interests on the waterfront." Ciccone was among 17 alleged mob leaders, soldiers and associates arrested last month under an indictment charging them with numerous schemes to extort individuals and companies doing business around the Brooklyn and Staten Island docks. Law enforcement officials said their eavesdropping stumbled onto the plot to extort hundreds of thousands of dollars from "an individual in the film industry," whom attorneys in the case have identified as Seagal, the rugged martial arts expert who burst to stardom in 1988 and created his own production company, with "Jules" Nasso, 49, as his producing partner for more than a decade until they split up two years ago. The split led to a $60-million lawsuit, filed in March, in which Nasso alleged that the star of "Under Siege" and other hit movies had fallen under the influence of a Buddhist sect and refused to do four movies for which Nasso had already sold the foreign rights. -- continued --
Link Posted: 8/5/2002 12:31:02 PM EDT
According to prosecutors, at the time the partnership was coming apart in the summer of 2000, and while Seagal was filming "Exit Wounds" for Warner Bros. in Toronto, the Nasso brothers, Ciccone and the capo's chief enforcer "traveled to Canada ... to initiate the extortion." The Brooklyn restaurant meeting took place the following Feb. 2, the brief says, and soon after "Ciccone asked J. Nasso if he had demanded $150,000 per movie from the victim." "I'll take care of it," Nasso says. "We said that day that we were gonna tell him that every movie he makes we want $150,000. [And] he puts you in on it," Ciccone says. The brief says Nasso then urged the mob captain to be "even more forceful" with Seagal, saying, "We had ... a nice initial meeting to break the ice. But I think the next one, you gotta get, you really gotta get down on him.... 'Cause I know this animal, I know this beast." Subsequently, the mob group "traveled across the country to make additional demands in person," the brief says, and "law enforcement surveilled them and took photographs." Later, the mob figures became concerned because Seagal was talking about the threats, the brief says, so Ciccone instructed Vincent Nasso to "smooth this guy over." At yet another meeting, Ciccone berates Jules Nasso for telling others that he had gotten the mob captain's permission to file his suit against Seagal, according to the brief. "You said to me, I'll cover you," Nasso replies. "I didn't tell you to go out and put it in the ... newspaper." "I'm sorry," says Nasso, who is free on $1.5-million bail and facing extortion conspiracy charges. _ _ _ If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at latimes.com/archives. For information about reprinting this article, go to www.lats.com/rights. Copyright 2002 Los Angeles Times
Link Posted: 8/5/2002 12:50:54 PM EDT
And we should care about this.....why?
Link Posted: 8/5/2002 1:08:49 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/5/2002 1:10:52 PM EDT by uglygun]
I love it when Mad TV does Steven Seagal spoofs. The guy they having doing the Seagal persona can mimic that STUPID CONFUSED IDIOT look SOOO perfectly! [img]http://www.madtvcentral.com/images/segal.jpg[/img] [I] let's hear you say that with a broken neck[/I][B][I]SNAP[/I][/B]
Link Posted: 8/5/2002 1:40:19 PM EDT
If anybody extorts money from seagal, it should be sent as compensation to those who watched 'On Deadly Ground'. What an absolute waste of film!
Link Posted: 8/5/2002 1:53:07 PM EDT
I am now dumber after reading that entire first article.
Link Posted: 8/5/2002 4:45:10 PM EDT
Originally Posted By bastiat: If anybody extorts money from seagal, it should be sent as compensation to those who watched 'On Deadly Ground'. What an absolute waste of film!
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I learned not to drive my fossil fuel guzzling vehicle after listening to his diatribe at the end of the movie. What did he say again?
Link Posted: 8/5/2002 5:17:51 PM EDT
I wish tulku would stop making movies.
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