Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mob Wives show adds Donnie Brasco's granddaughter to lineup

‘Mob Wives” is getting a new “made” member.
Ramona Rizzo — the granddaughter of Benjamin “Lefty Guns” Ruggiero, the Bonnano crime family soldier played by Al Pacino in the 1997 movie “Donnie Brasco” — is joining the cast this season, The Post has learned.
“Her grandfather is the one person — aside from her father — who’s probably Ramona’s biggest hero,” says Jennifer Graziano, the creator and producer of the hit reality series.
“She loved him very deeply.”
In fact, says Graziano, “When they were making [‘Donnie Brasco’] — and this is Ramona’s personality to a ‘T’ — she went to the set, called Pacino out of his trailer and said: ‘I understand you’re playing my grandfather. You’ve got a job to do. You need to play him right. This is what he was, and this is what he wasn’t.’

NEW GIRL: Ramona Rizzo has the credentials to join “Mob Wives” this season. Her grandfather was “Lefty Guns” Ruggiero, who played a big part in “Donnie Brasco” case.
AS SEEN IN: Al Pacino (left) played Ruggiero and Johnny Depp was Brasco in the famous 1997 gangster movie.
AS SEEN IN: Al Pacino (left) played Ruggiero and Johnny Depp was Brasco in the famous 1997 gangster movie.
“If she’s got something to say, she’ll say it,” says Graziano, herself the daughter of a Bonnano capo, Anthony Graziano.
Rizzo joins the show, set to begin a new season Jan. 1, because she is a childhood friend of “Mob Wives” spitfire Karen Gravano, daughter of mob turncoat Sammy “The Bull” Gravano.
A divorced mother of four, Rizzo lives in New Jersey, but was raised on Staten Island, where most of the action in “Mob Wives” takes place.
“Karen and Ramona grew up together, did their first Communion together and slept over each other’s houses,” Graziano says. “They’re really close and call each other ‘cousins.’
“They’re probably tighter than real blood cousins, but they’re not related.”
Her grandfather played a key — if unwitting — role in the downfall of the mob in New York when, in 1976, Ruggiero brought into the crime family an undercover FBI agent, Joe Pistone, pretending to be a promising wise guy.
Inexplicably, the mob never ordered a hit on Ruggiero as punishment for his error in judgment.
He died — after a long prison stint — of cancer in 1994, before the movie that made him famous was released.
Graziano says she considered casting Rizzo for the show’s first season.
“She and I discussed it but didn’t think she was ready for it at the time,” she says.
So what changed?
“She was traveling and just returned back home,” Graziano says. “I don’t want to give too much of the back story away, but you’ll see it unfold.”
The show’s original cast, Gravano, Graziano’s older sister, Renee, Drita D’avanzo and Carla Facciolo, will all be returning as well, the network says.
The show, originally made as a close relative of the “Real Housewives” series, took on a life of its own during its debut season and became a much-talked-about hit for VH1.


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