Jimmy Roselli Biopic About Frank Sinatra Contemporary In Works With James Ivory, EMP & Remarkable Media

EXCLUSIVE: Call Me By Your Name Oscar winner James Ivory is behind a new biopic about Italian American pop singer Jimmy Roselli, who was a competitive voice at a time when Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Dean Martin were dominating.

J.D. Zeik, screenwriter of Robert De Niro pic Ronin, has penned the screenplay. Roselli grew up in Hoboken five houses down from Sinatra, some considering his vocal talents superior to Sinatra’s. Frank’s mother Dolly privately considered Jimmy her favorite singer. But due to his combative personality and refusal to yield to mob pressure to control him and his earnings, Roselli’s career suffered greatly. 

This earned him powerful enemies and in his heyday of the 1950s and 60s led him to be blacklisted from the most important clubs, performance venues and his records banned at most radio stations. Self-sabotage may have hurt Roselli the most. He had a seven-show commitment on Ed Sullivan, but quit after three shows. Roselli also passed up appearances on The Tonight Show and a role in The Godfather II.

Roselli appeared on Broadway and sang at Carnegie Hall. Martin Scorsese featured Roselli’s signature tune, “Mala Femmina,” twice in his classic film Mean Streets. He continued to perform until nearly the age of 80 to sold out crowds.

The film will be told as a day in the life of Roselli in his twilight, who experiences doubts, mere hours before the most important performance of his career, thus catapulting him on an unforgettable odyssey throughout 1980s New Jersey in which he’s forced to face his demons.

Ivory, Spike Seldin and Neil Jesuele along with Roger Birnbaum and Mark Kimsey’s EMP Productions are teaming on the movie. Veteran A&R/ Record Producer Ron Fair will be Music Supervisor and will also Produce. Multiple records that Ron has Produced have gone on to win Grammy Awards across a broad array of categories.

Casting is currently under way for the role of Roselli.

“The story has a good deal in common with many of our Merchant Ivory films about artists and performers of every kind,” said Ivory. “Our stories were about artists in their worlds, and how they coped with their talent – or sometimes didn’t – and their fame, and how that fame often dramatically twisted and deformed them as early successes were later on followed by oblivion.”

Zeik also wrote and produced the TNT film production of Witchblade. He is currently working on a new TV series, The Analyst, which he wrote and is showrunning along with Barbara De Fina.

Michael Besman, James Deutch, Birnbaum and Kimsey will produce on behalf of EMP.

Seldin and Jesuele are producing on behalf of Remarkable Media.

Ivory and Stephen Dembitzer are EPs.

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