Michael Franzese, former mob boss for the Colombo crime family in New York, is a well-known motivational speaker. His autobiography, Blood Covenant, Michael reveals answers to many mysteries surrounding his incredible journey – his criminal activities, life with his father and interactions with former Gambino crime family boss John Gotti. Mr. Franzese is the founder and chairman of the Breaking Out Foundation, which is dedicated to educating, empowering and equipping youth to face life’s challenges, especially gambling addiction. In Martin Scorsese’s film Goodfellas, Franzese is portrayed as the character “Mikey Franzese” by Joseph Bono. His latest book, I’ll Make You An Offer You Can’t Refuse, is on business tips. The latest Franzese Family project is the upcoming docudrama titled, “God The Father.”
Interview by Stephen Thompson, Ph.D.
Welcome to OpenBeast. Briefly describe your transformation into strong faith.
Met my wife on a set of a movie I had executive produced in 1984. She was a dancer in the movie, a strong Christian, as was her mother, Irma. They introduced me to my faith, but it wasn’t until I had my first real encounter with Jesus in a jail cell in 1991 that I accepted Him as my Savior. Having come from a life where to be a “man’s man” was the standard I had to live up to, it was the character of Jesus as a man that first attracted me to Him. He was the only true man’s man to ever walk the earth, flawless in every aspect of his character and behavior. He got me then and He has me all the way now!
Talk to us about “God The Father”.
I see this movie as an extension of the ministry God blessed me with and quite possibly the fulfillment of a vision my late mother-in-law had for me some 29 years ago. She told me one day, at a time when I was nowhere near a person of faith, that she saw me “speaking to millions of people about Jesus.” Thought she was delusional at the time. Here I am 29 years later, in ministry, with a movie that just might serve to reach those millions of people Irma was talking about. And this on top of my evangelistic outreach growing daily over the past 15 years! The movie is a mob movie, no doubt, but it is also a true life, documented story of redemption. And God gets all the glory. I don’t compromise or water down the message. If I did, it wouldn’t be my story (smiles).
Would you say “walking away from mafia life” is one of your best achievements?
I would say it was one my greatest blessings. Had I remained in that life, I would have been either dead or in prison for life like most all of my former associates in the mob life. No doubt in my mind. Only by the grace of God am I alive and free and able to publicly talk about it while proclaiming the gospel of Jesus.
Tell us more about your foundation?
I have a heart for young people. Saw too many of them suffer severe consequences in prison as a result of bad decisions brought on by the sad state of our society today in terms of the breakdown of the traditional family. Kids need proper guidance and that comes with a functional family environment. Not a perfect one. No one family is perfect. But a functional one that can provide the proper environment and guidance our kids need to navigate a very tough world. I am committed to helping at risk youth obtain that. A lot more to say about it, but would be far too much to relate in this article.
Any other upcoming initiatives you would like to discuss.
Right now it’s all about getting the movie out there in cities all over the world. I believe God is in this and I am committed to put in the effort necessary to make it happen. I have a second project in development that will begin filming next year; terrific story about a woman, the principal of a school in Notasulga, Alabama. She is a strong woman of faith who has overcome, and continues to overcome tremendous obstacles and challenges to totally change and improve the lives of her students. A story that absolutely needs to be told and I am blessed to be bringing it to the screen. And of course, I continue to share my story in churches and with ministries all over the world.
What are your leisure time activities?
My favorite leisure time is spent just hanging with my family. I’m on the road quite a bit so I treasure the time we spend together. I have a great family; great kids and now some great little grandchildren. Just love being with them! And my wife Cammy is my soul mate, can’t picture life without her. I also can handle myself pretty well on the racquetball court and enjoy schooling some of the “young guns” who think they can handle me. For Michael Franzese, despite all the struggles and baggage from my former life that still plagues me at times, life is pretty darned blessed!