‘Mob Wives Chicago’ women pulled back in to reality TV
BY LORI RACKL TV Criticfirstname.lastname@example.org March 25, 2013 6:52PM
Franky Forliano (from left), her son Eddie Strong, Dana Marie Marchese, Leah DeSimone, Natalie Gerasimchuk and Michelle Luciano hope their reality TV show finds a network. | KEVIN KING PHOTO
Updated: March 31, 2013 12:38PM
‘Mob Wives Chicago” got whacked last year after one low-rated season, but a couple of familiar faces from that VH1 series are staging their small-screen comeback.
One of them is Franky Forliano, daughter of Harry “The Hit” Aleman, reputedly one of the most feared and prolific mob killers in Chicago history. Forliano is set to star in a proposed reality TV show called “Bo$$ Ladies.”
“It will be a truthful show about how we survived … and where we came from — but not to depict Italian people as garbage,” Forliano said.
The Oakbrook Terrace woman doesn’t hide her distaste for “Mob Wives Chicago,” a spin-off of the New York original. She appeared in one of its 11 episodes.
“There was no storyline; you have to roll around on the floor and beat each other up because you have nothing to say?” she said about the series that followed the finger-pointing, hair-pulling, name-calling exploits of five local women with varying degrees of ties to organized crime.
“Bo$$ Ladies,” Forliano said, “is not going to be anything at all like ‘Mob Wives.’ We’re putting the truth back into reality.”
A production crew came to Chicago in February to film a “Bo$$ Ladies” sizzle reel that’s being shopped to television networks in hopes of getting picked up for broadcast later this year.
“We want to show powerful, gutsy women who grew up in a tough neighborhood and go out and make something of themselves,” said “Bo$$ Ladies” co-producer Lydia King of Tru. Image Group, a production company with offices in Los Angeles and Minneapolis.
The show’s premise centers on four women banding together to run a bar.
“It’s going to be called Boss Ladies and serve only top-shelf liquor,” King said about the watering hole, whose location in Chicago is still to be determined.
“It’s [about] four ladies running their own lives; they call the shots,” said another “Bo$$ Ladies” star, Leah DeSimone, formerly a regular on the VH1 series. “It’s also about their lifestyle and how they grew up.”
Producers said the cast includes Linda Scarpa, whose father, Greg Scarpa — known as “The Grim Reaper” — was a captain with New York’s Colombo crime family. Linda Scarpa is said to be moving from New York to Chicago this summer to be a part of “Bo$$ Ladies.”
Rounding out the roster is Michelle Luciano of Plainfield. Luciano, who’s friends with the other women, said she doesn’t “have any mob ties at all.” Her husband is a police sergeant in the western suburbs.
Further down on the cast list are Forliano’s son, Eddie Strong, and family friends Dana Marie Marchese and Natalie Gerasimchuk.
Missing from the cast list: the woman who was the original inspiration for the show, former “Mob Wives Chicago” star Pia Rizza.
King initially wanted to do a series revolving around Rizza, her mother and Rizza’s 16-year-old daughter, Bella. She eventually decided the concept wasn’t strong enough, so Rizza roped in her friends DeSimone, Luciano and Forliano to join the show.
What happened next depends on whom you ask, but everyone agrees on the end result: Rizza opted to have no part of “Bo$$ Ladies.”
“There are a lot of reasons I walked away but not because I wasn’t the star,” said Rizza, who’s lately been fodder for TMZ and various talk shows after scantily clad photos of her surfaced on the Internet.
The racy pictures have caused a further rift with her and some of the “Bo$$ Ladies,” who said they don’t want Rizza’s name sullying their image.
“She’s going around saying she’s my friend, Harry Aleman’s daughter; I don’t want this kind of notoriety,” said Forliano, adding that the negative publicity is especially unwelcome as she’s trying to launch “Bo$$ Ladies” and write a book about her late father, a suspect in at least 20 murders but convicted of only one.
One of the men who testified against Aleman was Rizza’s father, Vince, a crooked Chicago cop turned government witness. Despite that, the men’s two daughters became good friends last year. But that friendship, just like the show that brought them together, is over.
“I don’t need her to go out on blast with my dad,” Forliano said. “I’m trying to clean up my dad’s image, not tarnish it.”
Said Rizza about the “Bo$$ Ladies” cast: “I have no derogatory feelings for them. I just want to be left the hell alone.”