VH1 taps into Chicago’s women of the underworld
Eighty years after the feds nailed Al Capone for tax evasion, Chicago’s ugliest legacy is about to return to the national spotlight. Ready or not, here comes Mob Wives: Chicago.
VH1 announced Wednesday that a spinoff of its “docu-soap” reality series Mob Wives would focus on a group of Chicago women “suffering the stronzi and agita of their Mafiosi connections.” Production is expected to begin next month, with the 10-episode series set to debut in spring 2012.
“I have always heard the legends about Al Capone and Chicago, but it wasn’t until I actually went to the city that I became enamored with the rich mob history there,” series creator and executive producer Jennifer Graziano said in a statement. “These women’s lives are right off the pages of a storybook!”
Graziano, whose father, Anthony, was reputed consigliere to the Bonnano crime family, cast her own sister, Renee, in the original New York-based series, which starts its second season on VH1 January 1. “The furs, the money, the parties, the respect — it’s all part of the intrigue of the world I grew up in,” she said. “But at any time, the other shoe can drop and these women find themselves going on prison visits. I have long thought that this was a story that needed to be told, and am so thankful that we can continue this journey with the original Mob Wives — as well as expanding the franchise to Chicago.”
Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown, who broke the news of the spinoff Wednesday, tried to pin down which Chicago women had signed to participate, but struck out. VH1 was no help either. No matter who’s in it, Brown sees trouble ahead. “I can’t tell you about New York, but in Chicago, mob wives — and daughters and girlfriends — are still supposed to stay out of the public eye,” he wrote.
By becoming “happily married to the mob,” as the show business journal Variety reported, “VH1 is counting on the popular series to become a Real Housewives-like franchise and help it break out of the ratings slump it has experienced for the last several years.”
Jeff Olde, executive vice president of original programming and production for VH1, said he was initially skeptical about rehashing the format of the New York series. “But once we met these ladies from Chicago and heard their truly unbelievable stories, we knew that viewers would become just as captivated as we did,” he said in the announcement. “These women’s life experiences may be far different from our own, but their current struggles to stand on their own two feet are relatable to everyone.”
Granted, I’m hardly in the target audience VH1 is hoping to reach with the show. But I can’t think of a reason in the world I’d watch it.
Besides who needs Mob Wives: Chicago when Me-TV still airs The Untouchables at 11:30pm every night? For my money, I’ll take the fairy-tale version of Robert Stack’s Eliot Ness battling Al Capone and Frank Nitti over these real-life sob sisters any day.