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Crime Film Imitates Life

The Early Show, "This Thing of Ours" filmmaker Danny Provenzano
CBS/The Early Show
It had the appearance of a Hollywood movie gala — the red carpet, the limos and excited fans. But the premiere of "This Thing of Ours" was more about one man than the entire movie.

"This is a fun party and everything, but I want to see what those box office results are going to be," said Danny Provenzano, the director, producer and writer of "This Thing of Ours."

"He's a very charismatic guy, he's very lovable," said Frank Vincent. "And in spite of all the bad press, he really is truly a good guy."

He may be a good guy, but he is also a convicted felon. In 1999, the New Jersey Police arrested Provenzano under a 44-count felony indictment that included charges of racketeering, terrorist threats, kidnapping, money laundering and allegations that he had ties to organized crime.

"I've often said that organized crime doesn't exist," said Provenzano. "And when I say organized crime doesn't exist, you know, I mean that literally. Are there guys out there that commit crimes? Absolutely."

He may not think crime exists, but it's certainly prominent in his movie.

And some of it can be art imitating life.

"I just thought that it would be smart business to put something from [my] indictment in the film," said Provenzano.

And it was. For a low budget independent movie, Provenzano's movie is getting a lot of attention -- all while he was under indictment. The film tells the story of three young mob rebels who want to shake up the old guard.

The script was impressive enough to attract the talents of mob film veterans James Caan, Frank Vincent and Vincent Pastore.

"No one has ever accused me of not having what it takes to do something like that," Provenzano said with a laugh. "I look at things differently than most people … To me, I don't look at obstacles as something that's going to distract me from making something happen. I look at obstacles as a challenge."

The challenge of making a film was nothing compared to the challenge of defending himself against a mountain of criminal charges. Provenzano eventually pleaded guilty to racketeering and is scheduled to begin a maximum 10-year prison sentence next month. Just weeks before, his film will be released in theaters nationwide. It's a fact that certainly hasn't hurt the publicity of the film.

"It's no secret, you know, I'm going to jail in 30 days," Provenzano said. "I've been fighting the government for five years and that's attracted a lot of attention. You know, I don't think it's every day that, you know, a convicted felon is about to release a film."

And while most filmmakers enjoy the first few weeks of their film's release, Provenzano won't.

"But you've got to remember one thing, I knew this going into it," he said. "I knew that there was a potential that I might not be able to finish the film before I got thrown in prison. So the fact that I'm sitting here today with a finished film that's going to be in the theaters prior to me going to jail, I'm actually very comfortable with it."