Analyze That may have flopped at the box office, but Hollywood isn't saying fughedaboudit when it comes to big-screen comedies involving the mafia. This week, Alec Baldwin and Matthew Broderick begin shooting Providence, a fact-based film about the FBI's failed 1987 attempt to infiltrate the mob by producing a motion picture.
"The FBI got it in their head that they could nail mobsters in Rhode Island by making a movie," explains Jeff Nathanson, who penned the script and will make his directorial debut with the pic. "They plucked this struggling writer-director out of Hollywood and took him to New England. They hoped to [broker] deals between mobsters and the teamsters on the movie set.
"They actually started production, but it got shut down right before shooting began," adds Nathanson, the scribe behind Steven Spielberg's current smash, Catch Me if You Can. "They spent about a million dollars of taxpayer money on the sting operation, and they never got anybody."
Despite the movie's mob ties, the soft-spoken scribe — who feared a writing credit on 1997's Speed 2: Cruise Control "would end my career" — insists that Providence is not "a mob comedy," per se. "It's much more in the vein of Election or Living in Oblivion," he says. "It's a very small, quirky comedy."
Still, Nathanson's got some big worries about directing his first film — and his Catch collaborator is only heightening those fears. "Steven Spielberg keeps threatening to come to the set," he sighs. "I'm going to have to post a security guard to make sure he never does. That's my worst nightmare."