Twice upon a time, the Brinks job was pulled in Boston. However, the second one was supposed to be strictly on the up-and-up. Now there are charges that underworld figures with names like "Joe Shoes" and "Spanish Eddie" were involved in the shooting-the shooting of a movie.
Accusatiions bounced back and forth from coast to coast yesterday as William Friedkin, director of the film "The Brinks Job" - based on the 1950 robbery of an armored truck that netted thieves $2.7 million - flew from Hollywood to Boston, the scene of the crime and the film. There he will hold a press conference today to denounce charges made Wednesday on the @%nbc Nightly News about who hired whom in the course of making the movie.
In the first of three investigative pieces on underworld influence in the motion picture industry (the last will been seen on tonight's 6:30 telecast on Channel 4), NBC News reported that a federal grand jury was looking into alleged payments made to mob leaders during the making of the film and "the role of the Teamsters Union" in the production.The movie company allegedly had to hire twice as many Teamster drivers as were actually needed.
From Hollywood yesterday, a spokesman for the Dino De Laurentiis Corporation, producers of the $12.5-million movie, called NBC's report "far from the truth," "a joke, really" "a sham" and a "striving for sensationalism."
Director Friedkin is "very, very angry" about the report and is going to Boston to repudiate the charges, the spokesman said.
But at NBC News, field producer Ira Silverman and correspondent Brian Ross stood by their story and said there's more where that came from.
NBC HAS TOUCHED A SENSITIVE NERVE IN THE UNION-DOMINATED MOVIE BUSINESS, WHERE A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF FEATHERBEDDING IS CONSIDERED AS NATURAL AS YOGURT AND WHERE, ONE INDUSTRY SOURCE SAID YESTERDAY, "CERTAIN PEOPLE CAN SLEEP ON THE JOB AND STILL GET PAID."
BUT TROUBLE WITH THE TEAMSTERS THEY DO NOT NEED. "THE TEAMSTERS IS A GOOD UNION," SAID THE DE LAURENTIIS SPOKESMAN."SO WE PAY HIGH PRICES TO THEM. THAT'S THE WAY IT SI IN THIS INDUSTRY. IT'S EXPENSIVE TO MAKE PICUTRES NOWADAYS."
DE LAURENTIIS HIMSELF TOLD NBC News that problems with the Teamsters "added more than $1 million to the film's cost," but his spokesman says the remark was misinterpreted. De Laurentiis has no camplaint with the Teamsters but laments the fact that "there is no universal union in the idnustry," so that while a Los Angeles Teamster could drive a movie company truck from Hollywood toward Boston he had to be replaced at the Massachusetts state line by another Teamster driver from that state.
"Besides," said the spokesman, "Dino is an Italian. He has to have questions translated. When he said $1 million he was lumping together all the unions that worked on the picture. Over a six-month period our total payroll expendtiure to the Teamsters was $680,000."
De Laurentiis only spent three days in Boston during the shooting of the film, anyway, the spokesman said. "Most of the time he was in Bora-Bora working on 'Hurricane.'"
NBC also charged that the producers connsulted reputed mob boss Ralph "The Chong" Mattina to get the cooperation of North End residents in removing TV antennas and air conditioners from their homes-to help insure an authentic period look for the movie-and paid Joseph "Joe Shoes" Camaratta to spearhead this public relations effort.
The De Laurentiis spokesman said, "There were no payoffs to the underworld" and said "Joe Shoes" was paid $200 a week to act as Peter Falk's bodyguard.
It was feared that Falk, TV's "Lt. Columbo, might be "mauled by the people of Boston" because he is "such a hero to them," the spokesman said.
According to producer Silverman, of 53 Teamsters hired in Boston to work on the film last summer, many "had long criminal records, and the question thee is, 'Why?' Why were other men passed over so that these guys, with convictions for bank robbery and hijacking and other crimes, could have the job?"
(A spokesman for the international Teamsters union in Los Angeles last night said he was unfamiliar with the allegations and had no comment on them.)
The De Laurentiis spokesman said, "Verey person we hired in Boston was cleared in advance by the Boston prolice department. The Boston police knew all the guys on the set"
'I suggest you check with the Boston Polic on that one," suggested Silverman.
Holy good God!" said a spokesman for the Boston police department."In no way did we sceen anybody to work on that movie. No way. Some of our officers were on the set, but they were there for crowd control only."
Capt. Robert Bradley, the Boston police officer in charge of the movie company detail, said, "We were there to facilitate the coordination of the making of the movie without inconvenience." The acknowledged that "there were underworld figures around" during the shooting of the movie and that "some of them were bit actors in the film."
In July, some of the exposed footage of "The Brinks Job" was stolen and never recovered by police, though duplicated footage was still on hand. Correspondent Ross-whom a colleague at another network calls "one of the best reporters in entwork television"-said yesterday that a gent who goes by the name of "Spanish Eddie" was brought up from New York by the Teamesters to work on the film and was later fingered as a suspect in the theft of the film about the famous theft.
It gets still more complicated. The De Laurentiis spokesman and NBC News disagree on whether a federal grand jury is actually investigating the movie or just ocntinuing an ongoing inquiry into the Teamsters. A Justice Department source here said yesterday, however, that some records from the Teamsters local in Boston relating to work on the film are among those that have been subpoenaed.
The source was not shocked at the idea of organized crime figures being present on the movie set or at the Boston premiere of the film. "It's like a war movie," he said. "You need tanks, The Army will be around. The Brinks movie is about the underworld, so mobsters are around. We obviously follow up, as a matter of routine, when we see underworld figures coming out of their holes."
Silverman and Ross said they had a hard time getting the story. "One problem," said Silverman, "was that people inHollywood were afraid of what would happen the next ime they made a movie. They would say things over drinks at the Polo Lounge that they would not say on camera."
"One cop told us he went to the filmmakers and said, 'Why are you dealing with these (underworld) people?'" Ross said. "And the guy said, 'Becuase-they own the streets.'"
Silverman and Orss say their next report on organized crime in the entertainment industry will center on the record business. And what about organized crime in televisions
"Television IS an organized crime," was one industry source's reply.
"It's next on our agenda," said Silverman.
As far as the last laugh in "The Brinks Job" job goes, it will probably not he laughed for some time to come. But the De Laurentiis spokesman acknowleged that all the publicity about this movie about crime would be anything but a handicap at the box office.
"Will it help the picture? Oh, definitely. We wish they had used a different clip, though. We have much better clips. But we'll take the exposure for the film. It's terrific," he said.
He also delivered what may be the ultimate broadside to an NBC News investigative team: "Mike Wallace," he said, "would have done a lot better." CAPTION: Picture, Dino De Laurentiis