A slight failure in communication almost derailed “Goodfellas.”
In 1986, Nicholas Pileggi wrote the book “Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family” about Henry Hill and his mob associates. After the book received positive reviews, director Martin Scorsese tried reaching out to Pileggi. However, there was one small problem.
“I never thought it was Marty calling,” Pileggi told a crowd at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Pileggi was still working for “New York Magazine” at this time, and Scorsese kept trying to get a hold of him over the phone.
“I’d get these little pink slips that would say, ‘Call Martin Scorsese.’ I thought it was David Denby, who was the movie critic at “New York Magazine,” so I didn’t respond,” Pileggi said.
Pileggi didn’t go into detail about whether or not Denby had a history of pulling off elaborate pranks of some sort. But clearly, Denby had nothing to do with this.
Somebody from Scorsese’s office finally contacted “Sleepless in Seattle” director Nora Ephron, who was married to Pileggi, and she knocked some sense into him.
“Are you crazy?” Pileggi recalled Ephron asking. “Martin Scorsese is trying to call you and you won’t call him back!”
After that, Pileggi finally called him back and work on the project began.
Pileggi and Scorsese ended up co-writing the script together, which was nominated for an Academy Award for best adapted screenplay. They collaborated once again on “Casino.” “Goodfellas” celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
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