Pulp Nonfiction

Quentin Tarantino's papa gets down with South Florida organized crime. Now there's a screenplay.

Tarantino used his suddenly famous name in Hollywood to pitch himself as an accomplished showman. The opening line on his Website reads, "Tony's talents span from 1950's television to present day film acclaim." It's an interesting boast, considering that there is no evidence he did television in the 1950s and that his movie career, if you could call it that, has been relegated to bit parts in largely unknown, small-budget movies.

He also claims on the Website that he recently hosted a television show. That's true, but it was an amateurish cable-access production that he paid to air and that failed miserably. He also informs us that he recently wrote his seventh country song, titled "Sweet Southern Girl." Way to go, Tony.

Next to his Web boasts is a picture of smiling Tony over a quote that reads, "My dad was a great story teller. His stories have always inspired me. Had he written them down, I'm sure he would have had a best seller."

Tarantino Sr.: Italian good looks and the requisite pompadour
Tarantino Sr.: Italian good looks and the requisite pompadour

There is no attribution, but the natural assumption is that those words come from his famous son, who is pictured on the Website. That, of course, is an impossibility, since the two have never seen each other. The only words from Quentin about his biological father I could find in press archives are in the vein of, "I've never met my father" and "I have no desire to meet my father."

My bet is that the quote is Tony's own, about his father, Dominic, Quentin's granddaddy, who allegedly appeared in 1930s Tom Mix westerns.

"I have an agenda," Tony told the AV Press. "And I've been out there pushing it hard.... I want to establish myself in Hollywood as a good, viable actor. I want to become known for who I am, not just because of who my son is."

Tony's agenda remains unfulfilled, but he did get a break when he bumped into Sal Pacino -- Al's father -- at a meeting of a social club called the Grandsons of Italy in North Hollywood, California. Tony was soon inducted into the Silver Foxes, a promotional club for the parents of stars that recently did an exercise video with Stephanie Powers. Tony has the distinction of being the only member of the club who is estranged from his star offspring. It also includes the mothers of Magic Johnson, Cindy Crawford, Patrick Swayze, and self-help guru Tony Robbins.

In the summer of 2000, Tony finished a screenplay called New Horizons, your basic action/adventure/crime/romance/cloning picture, which he wrote with Tom Cruise and Catherine Zeta-Jones in mind. Other stars were supposedly involved, including Sal Pacino's son, but I'll get to that later.

Tony, who is now 61 years old but looks much younger, didn't respond to my interview requests, but he did speak with New Times about the project last June. Of the superstar Cruise, Tony said charitably that he felt the "kid deserves an Academy Award. I'm going to write the vehicle that gets him one." He told us that preproduction was beginning and locations were being scouted in South Florida, though he was still working on financing.

Ah, the money. The eternal sticking point. The great Hollywood Catch-22: To get the money, you need the stars, and to get the stars, you need the money. Tony, a man who has trouble following through on anything he begins, had neither. But he really wanted the cash, and in the grand Tinsel Town tradition, he wasn't above the white lie to get it.

Enter the Rubbos, who met with Tarantino last summer. The New Horizons impresario boasted that he was close friends with several big-name Hollywood actors and promised that he would introduce the Rubbos to Quentin, claims Joseph Rubbo. "Tarantino said, 'Get me as much money as you can,'" recalls the 38-year-old Rubbo, now awaiting trial. "He was looking for money in any direction he could get it in. That's when I should have smartened up."

He says he didn't for one simple reason: "I was starstruck."

Editor's note: Next week, we meet the Rubbos and their alleged Mafia friends.

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