Principal Photography Begins with Richard Dreyfuss on HBO Pictures' Lansky

September 9, 1998

Starring Eric Roberts, Max Perlich, Illeana Douglas, Ryan Merriman, with Beverly D'Angelo and Anthony Lapaglia

John McNaughton Directs From David Mamet's Script;
Fred Zollo And Nick Paleologos Executive Produce And Fred Caruso Produces

Academy Award(r) and Golden Globe winner Richard Dreyfuss ("Mr. Holland's Opus," "The Goodbye Girl") is joined by 1998 Tony Award winner Anthony LaPaglia ("A View from the Bridge," Woody Allen's "Fall Project 1998"), Academy Award(r) and three-time Golden Globe nominee Eric Roberts ("Runaway Train," "Star 80"), Golden Globe nominee Beverly D'Angelo ("Coal Miner's Daughter," National Lampoon's "Vacation" films), Illeana Douglas ("Grace of My Heart," "To Die For"), Max Perlich ("Homicide: Life on the Street") and Ryan Merriman ("The Deep End of the Ocean"), as production begins on HBO Pictures' LANSKY.

Directed by John McNaughton ("Wild Things," "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer"), the film will shoot in and around Los Angeles and in Israel. Two-time Academy Award(r) nominee Fred Zollo ("Mississippi Burning," "Quiz Show") and Emmy(r) nominee Nick Paleologos (HBO's "In the Gloaming," "Ghosts of Mississippi") are executive producers. Fred Caruso ("Casualties of War," HBO's "The Rat Pack") is producer. The script is by Pulitzer Prize-winning, two-time Academy Award(r)-nominated and three-time Golden Globe-nominated writer David Mamet ("Wag the Dog," "The Spanish Prisoner").

LANSKY is based on the true story of Meyer Lansky, a young Jewish immigrant who grew up on the streets of New York at the turn of the century and embarked on a life of crime. Graduating from back-alley gambling to bootlegging to organized crime, Lansky partnered with childhood friend Ben "Bugsy" Siegel and earned notoriety that eventually made him the object of FBI pursuit, as well as congressional hearings.

The film offers an assortment of actors a unique opportunity to play the same roles. Four actors will portray Lansky: Joshua Praw at age 7; Ryan Merriman from ages 12 to 14; Max Perlich from ages19 to 30; and Dreyfuss from Lansky's 40s to 70s. The role of Bugsy Siegel will be portrayed by Anthony Medwetz from ages 11 to 12; Matthew Settle from ages 17 to 30; and Eric Roberts in later years. Anthony LaPaglia will play the older Lucky Luciano, while Paul Sincoff plays the character from ages 17 to 30.

Richard Dreyfuss has appeared in more than 40 films, receiving the Academy Award(r) for Best Actor for 1977's "The Goodbye Girl" and another Best Actor Academy Award(r) nomination for 1995's "Mr. Holland's Opus." His other films include "American Graffiti," "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz," "Jaws," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "Down and Out in Beverly Hills," "Tin Men," "Silent Fall," "What About Bob?," "Moon Over Parador" and "Whose Life Is It Anyway?" Dreyfuss has also worked behind the scenes, serving as executive producer of the film "Quiz Show." His TV credits include "Oliver Twist" and HBO Pictures' "Prisoner of Honor." Dreyfuss has also appeared in U.S. and British stage productions and co-authored a novel, "The Two Georges." He will soon be seen in the movie "A Fine and Private Place."

Anthony LaPaglia won the 1998 Best Actor Tony Award, as well as the Outer Critics Circle Award and a Drama Desk Award for his performance in Arthur Miller's "A View from the Bridge." His film credits include three new films -- Woody Allen's "Fall Project 1998," Spike Lee's "Summer of Sam" and "Looking for Alibrandi" -- as well as "Trees Lounge," "Commandments," "Brilliant Lies," "Paperback Romance," "One Good Cop," "So I Married An Axe Murderer," "Mixed Nuts," "Betsy's Wedding" and "Slaves of New York." His TV credits include HBO's "Criminal Justice," "Murder One," "Nitti," "Phoenix" and "The Garden of Redemption."

Eric Roberts received an Academy Award(r) Best Supporting Actor nomination for 1985's "Runaway Train," and Golden Globe nominations for "Runaway Train," "Star 80" and "King of the Gypsies." Among his additional feature films are "Death Valley," "Facade" "The Prophecy II," "The Cable Guy," "Final Analysis," "Lonely Hearts," "Nobody's Fool," "The Pope of Greenwich Village" and "Raggedy Man." His TV credits include "The Odyssey," "The Lost Capone," and guest appearances on HBO's "Oz," "Frasier" and "The Drew Carey Show."

Beverly D'Angelo received a Golden Globe Best Supporting Actress nomination for her performance as Patsy Cline in "Coal Miner's Daughter." Her film credits include the four National Lampoon "Vacation" movies, "Illuminata," "Love Always," "Man Trouble," "Lonely Hearts," "Pacific Heights," "In the Mood" and "Every Which Way But Loose." Her TV credits include "Menendez: A Killing in Beverly Hills," "Judgment Day: The John List Story," "A Child Lost Forever" and "A Streetcar Named Desire."

Illeana Douglas has appeared in such films as "Message in a Bottle," "Grace of My Heart," "Flypaper," "Wedding Bell Blues," "Picture Perfect," "To Die For," "Quiz Show," "Alive," "Cape Fear" and "GoodFellas." Her TV credits include "Bella Mafia," "Rough Riders," HBO's "Weapons of Mass Distraction" and guest appearances on HBO's "The Larry Sanders Show," "Seinfeld," "Homicide: Life on the Street" and "The Single Guy." The granddaughter of actor Melvyn Douglas and Congresswoman Helen Gahagan, Douglas wrote, directed and starred in the film "Boy Crazy, Girl Crazier" and also directed "The Perfect Woman."

Max Perlich is best known to TV audiences for his recurring role as J.H. James Brody in "Homicide: Life on the Street." His feature credits include "I Woke Up Early the Day I Died," "Truth or Consequences, N.M.," "Feeling Minnesota," "Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco," "Beautiful Girls," "The Grave," "Maverick," "Cliffhanger," "The Butcher's Wife," "Rush" and "Gross Anatomy." His TV credits include guest appearances on "Buffy, The Vampire Slayer," "L.A. Law" and "21 Jump Street."

Ryan Merriman joined the cast of "Lansky" immediately following his starring role in Jason Alexander's "Cherry Pink" and will soon be seen as Michelle Pfeiffer's son in "The Deep End of the Ocean." He recently starred in the TV movie "Everything That Rises," directed by and starring Dennis Quaid, and can currently be seen in the recurring role of Young Jarod on the hit series "The Pretender." Beginning his career with commercials, print work and local theatre in Oklahoma, Merriman first starred on the sitcom "The Mommies."

John McNaughton's directorial debut, "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer," which he also wrote and produced, attracted widespread critical acclaim and made him a sought-after director. His subsequent films include "Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll," "Normal Life," "The Borrower," "Mad Dog and Glory" and the recent "Wild Things." McNaughton has also directed episodes of the TV series "Homicide: Life on the Street."

Writer David Mamet was first known for such critically acclaimed plays as his Pulitzer Prize-winning "Glengarry Glen Ross," "Sexual Perversity in Chicago," "American Buffalo" and "Speed-The-Plow," and has gone on to an equally distinguished film career. In addition to writing and directing the recent "The Spanish Prisoner," as well as "Oleanna," "Things Change" and "House of Games," his writing credits include the Academy Award(r)-nominated films "Wag the Dog" and "The Verdict," as well as "The Edge," "Hoffa" and "The Untouchables," plus the screen version of "Glengarry Glen Ross." Mamet returned to Broadway with his most recent theatrical production, "The Old Neighborhood."

Fred Zollo executive produced HBO's "In the Gloaming" with Nick Paleologos and has produced such acclaimed films as "Ghosts of Mississippi," and the multiple Oscar(r) nominees "Mississippi Burning" (Best Picture nomination, 1988) and "Quiz Show" (Best Picture nomination, 1994), as well as "The Paper," "Naked in New York," John McNaughton's "Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll," "Miles from Home," "The Music of Chance" and, most recently, "Hurlyburly" with Sean Penn. His stage credits include such productions as "'Night, Mother," "On Golden Pond," "Hurlyburly," "Talk Radio" (which he also directed), "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," "Les Liaisons Dangereuses," "Death and the Maiden" (with Richard Dreyfuss), "Angels in America: Millennium Approached," "Angels in America: Perestroika" and several plays by David Mamet, including "Oleanna," "Glengarry Glen Ross" and "The Cryptogram."

Fred Caruso has produced such films as "Steal Big, Steal Little," "Surviving the Game," "Blue Velvet" and the HBO Pictures film "The Rat Pack." His co-producer credits include "Casualties of War," "Network," "The Presidio" and "The Bonfire of the Vanities." Caruso also served as executive producer on "Once Upon a Time in America" and was production manager on "The Godfather."

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