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Alyssa Milano Revisits New York Roots

Alyssa Milano and Jason Gedrick star in "Wisegal," a Lifetime Original movie based on a true story of Patty Montanari, who became a trusted confidant to the Mafia.
Ben Mark Holzberg, Lifetime
By The Showbuzz's Melissa Castellanos

With the biggest FBI mob bust in history on the Gambino family in New York a month ago, it appears that our mafia fix doesn't just occur onscreen with "The Sopranos," "Good Fellas" or "Donnie Brasco."

Actress Alyssa Milano, who is a native, Italian New Yorker from Bensonhurst, joined the mobster bandwagon through her portrayal of Patty Montanari, "a woman who became the trusted confidant to the Mafia" in a Lifetime Original movie, "Wisegal," which is based on a true story.

Montanari becomes romantically involved with a member of the Mafia, Frank Russo (played by Jason Gedrick) and the relationship becomes detrimental to her life and her children.

"Wisegal's" Executive Producer is Joe Pistone, former FBI agent, who went under the alias of "Donnie Brasco" and infiltrated the Bonanno and Colombo families. The movie "Donnie Brasco" starring Al Pacino and Johnny Depp is based on Pistone's real life story.

Photos: "Sopranos" Shoot
"I definitely think the mafia is still thriving," Milano told The Showbuzz. "I don't think that it's as powerful as it used to be… but I think that we're definitely still as fascinated with the mafia."

"Wisegal" airs on Saturday, March 15 at 9 p.m. (ET/PT) with encores on Sunday, March 16 at 9 p.m. and Monday, March 17 at 9 p.m. (ET/PT).

"The script came to me almost a year ago now. It's based on the true story about a widow and a mother of two who, in order to make ends meet - she needs to put food on the table - and she gets caught up working for the mafia," Milano said. "I think originally I was so attracted to the fact that it was just sort of a universal story, which is basically a mother doing what she has to do to give her children the childhood and the life that she never had. But, it's also a movie about choices and how you can make a choice one day and then five years later you realize that was probably was not the best choice and how exactly do you rectify that."

The 35-year-old actress, who was born in Brooklyn and raised on Staten Island, didn't have a hard time getting into character.

"It was definitely very easy for me to get into character," Milano said. "I felt like I had a really good grasp of who this person was, regardless of the power that she accumulates throughout the years, basically she was just a mother trying to do whatever she could to give her children a good life. I could relate that story really well. There is an Italian-Brooklyn mentality that I think women from that area have and I was raised by those women, so I can definitely relate."

Although "Wisegal" is supposed to be set in New York, it was filmed in Toronto.

"The entire cast was amazing on this movie, not only Jason Gedrick and James Caan, but also the entire Canadian cast. I think that when people watch it, they'll just be blown away by the acting," Milano said. "James Caan who is a legend especially in relation to mob movies, was just this kind of prankster, jokester when the camera wasn't rolling, but as soon as the camera rolled, he got really serious, into it and intense. Jason Gedrick is amazing in the movie and was incredibly professional."

Milano can also be seen on NBC. She has a reoccurring role in the network's hit show "My Name Is Earl."

"It's been incredibly fun. The experience has been great. The cast is unbelievable and the writing is fabulous and I couldn't be happier," Milano revealed.

Milano plays Billie Cunningham, the girlfriend of Frank Stump (played by Michael Rapaport) who is serving a 20-year-sentence for robbery and befriends Earl in prison.

"I play Billie and I think that she's going to be a potential love interest for Earl, although that hasn't been solidified yet. The relationship now is sort of a deep kind of soul mate situation," Milano said.

On April 18th Milano will also appear on a movie called "Pathology" with NBC's Heroes star Milo Ventimiglia about a group of medical students who come up with the perfect murder, she explained.

As a child star Milano played Samantha Micelli on the popluar 80s sitcom "Who's the Boss?", which ran for 8 seasons on ABC. She also starred on "Melrose Place," "Spin City" and, for nine years, on the WB hit series "Charmed". Some of her film credits include "Hugo Pool," co-starring Sean Penn and Robert Downey Jr. and "Fear," co-starring Reese Witherspoon and Mark Wahlberg, among others.

An avid Dodger's fan, Milano teamed up with G-III Apparel Group and Major League Baseball in 2007 to launch her own clothing and jewelry line called TOUCH - geared to female baseball fans.

Milano, who has lived in South Africa for three months and visited Angola and India, was named National Ambassador for UNICEF in 2003 and the Lead Ambassador for The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Disease Control.

"It's part of my pride and joy and I feel blessed to use my voice to affect positive change," Milano said.