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Boroughwide NewsJune 12, 2003 

Vin Diesel to film life story of a Morris Park decorated cop
by Jon Minners


Frank Perrone and TJ Mancini look on as Perrone's friends sign releases allowing their stories to be told as part of a documentary. In addition to serving as research for feature film about Perrone's career as a cop and his remarkable life, the interviews could also be included on the DVD release of the film. - PHOTO BY JON MINNERS/JM

Following turns on the strange alien-inhabited planet in Pitch Black to the tricked-out cars in The Fast and the Furious and the James Bond-like XXX, Vin Diesel is about to get local when he takes on the role of Morris Park resident Frank Perrone, a former New York City cop.

Initial work began on the film titled Perrone as producer TJ Mancini of Crossroads Production and Management filmed documentary interviews about the life of Frank Perrone.

Perrone was one of New York’s most honored and highly decorated police officers, but at the same time, he was also considered by some top police brass to be one of the most violent-prone cops on the force. Perrone patrolled what were considered the violent streets of the south Bronx in the 1970s, but still managed to connect with the community, even giving gifts to children in the area at Christmas. Perrone was also a proud member of the Hell’s Angels motorcycle club, often riding his Harley Davidson to work.

Perrone was considered a hero cop by those in the community he protected and received commendations and awards for his work in saving a number of lives. Unfortunately, one of Perrone’s uncles had ties to the Mafia, making life difficult for the hero cop who walked a thin line between responsibility and obligation. Mancini states that Perrone was part of a corrupt police system looking to capitalize on Perrone’s friendships to bust certain mob figures. After refusing the undercover assignment later taken by Detective Joseph D. Pistone to infiltrate the mob, which was portrayed in the film Donnie Brasco, Perrone became a subject of much scrutiny by the Police Dept., prompting comparisons with famed Detective Frank Serpico.

On Wednesday, June 4, Mancini sat down at the Paulding Bar and Restaurant to interview Perrone and friends for Diesel’s One Race Films. The filming will serve as documentary material for a future DVD release and background/research material for the actors to work with.

"This is our eighth day of shooting," said Mancini. "We have been shooting interviews in various locations throughout the Bronx, where Frank Perrone lived and went to school. We have filmed interviews with some of the cops he worked with and some of the motorcycle guys he rode with. Today, more and more, there is a need for extra content on DVDs, but this also supplies us with essential research so that we can do the movie right. We want to make sure we are accurate when we shoot the story of Perrone’s life."

Perrone’s police career ended when he was sent to prison, but his remarkable life story continues on to this day. In a violent incident in a pool hall involving Perrone and four assailants, the son-in-law of a police lieutenant who was trying to make a case against Perrone was shot. Perrone was jailed for the crime and stripped of his badge, his gun and all the accolades and commendations he earned. However, when he got out of prison, Mancini said Perrone had something that he would always hang on to: his pride.

"One of the most admirable things is honor, because honor never dies or grows old in a man," Diesel said in an interview at www.findarticles.com. "That’s a quote from a man named Frank Perrone, who was a cop in the Bronx. I’m actually hoping to write, direct and star in a film based on his true story. He’s a man I respect. He stood up for his beliefs but never ratted."

Diesel obtained the rights to the film and even has plans for a video game similar to that of Max Payne for his video game production company, Tigon Games.

Perrone said that he is very excited about the making of the film and looks forward to seeing it take place. "This is the greatest honor in the world to bestow on a human being, to tell their life story," Perrone said of the Diesel film. "My story will finally be told. When people tell stories, they only tell certain amounts of the story and then they stop. Now the whole story can be told."

Perrone said that he sees the film as a learning tool about honor and morality. "I will be the first on line to see it," he said. "I know all my friends will be at the premiere. This is going to be a great film. I am looking forward to it, because of Vin Diesel’s interest. He is a brilliant man to realize the magnitude of this story. Many actors would be too challenged for this role. Vin wouldn’t. He’s a real person turned action hero. This role fits him perfectly."

Perrone stood in the back room at the Paulding Restaurant surveying the scene before him, excited to see so many of his friends together again. While being filmed as a documentary on his life, Perrone also viewed the event as a reunion of sorts that is a long time in the making. "I have not had everyone together like this in close to 30 years," he said. "This is the greatest thing in the world. You have no choice in the matter as to who your family members are, but you do when it comes to your friends."

These friends supplied an abundance of information and stories from Perrone’s life. Mancini, after hearing the firsthand accounts from friends and colleagues, said he is confident the movie will be a success when it is filmed.

At the moment, Diesel is contractually obligated to film three other movies, so the actual start of filming is not yet known. The location for the filming has also not be determined. However, Mancini said he sures people will come to see the movie about Perrone’s life. "I think it is a great story," he said. "It will have a full range of human emotions, great heart and sensitivity. Perrone helped others that could not help themselves. He put his life at risk to help and save many people. He stepped on the toes of some people in the Police Department, but continued to stand up for what he believed in. He was a supercop."



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