Scorsese to bring Vinny Paz story to the big screen

By: Melissa Toupin

Chad Verdi's East Greenwich office is filled with boxing memorabilia. The producer says he went into the movie business to tell the story of his long time friend, Rhode Island boxing legend, Vinny Paz. Now Verdi is getting the chance, and will team up with one of Hollywood's top directors, Martin Scorsese, to do it.  

“Having Marty Scorsese say it's one of the best scripts I've ever read is huge! Huge!” said Verdi. “Having him want to be involved in this is just incredible.”

Verdi says within a few minutes of reading the script Scorsese was on board. The Oscar winning director signed on to the film as an executive Producer.

“I knew as soon as we sat down. I know it's crazy. We hit it off. I knew he wanted to be involved,” said Verdi.

5 time World Champion boxer Vinny Pas couldn't believe it. He recalls his reaction.

“Wait a minute…Martin Scorsese? You got Martin Scorsese?” said Paz.

The movie is based on the life of Paz, who overcame a broken neck from a car accident, to again fight for a world title.

“It's 'Blindside'. It's 'Rudy'. It's 'Rocky'. It's all those films- 'Raging Bull'- all combined,” said Verdi.

The movie will be filmed right here in Rhode Island. Paz will be an associate producer and even make a cameo.

“It's one of the greatest inspirational stories of all time,” said Paz. “I'm really happy it's going to finally get out there.”

Scorsese already has an acclaimed boxing film under his belt. He directed the 1980 movie 'Raging Bull'. That film won two Academy Awards. Expectations for the Vinny Paz movie are just as high.

“I may end my film career on this because I don't think it gets any better,” said Verdi.

While Paz says he hasn't thought too much about who will play him in the movie, the champ is excited about talks of adding some major star power in the role of his Dad. Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Jack Nicholson are just some of the names being tossed around.

Scriptwriter and director Ben Younger already signed onto the project. Emma Tillinger Koskoff will also collaborate on the movie. It is scheduled to be released in 2016.

(C) WLNE-TV 2013