“I was able to take care of anything, and I mean anything,” Gary Goehl says in a promotional video for Mister Chicago, a film in development based on Goehl’s life. “You could never tell the good guys from the bad guys because everybody was involved.”
Goehl, his good friend Sheri Cowan, and producing partner Randi-Jo Chester formed GunShot Residue Productions LLC, which is in the process of raising $7 million to make the lightly fictionalized account of Goehl’s days as a soldier for the Machine.
Mike Schmiedeler of the Michael Group (Gangland, Inside 9/11, Storm Stories), also a producer of Mister Chicago, describes the project as “Forrest Gump meets Goodfellas.”
He also cited Dallas Buyers Club as a model for a fact-based period piece made for seven figures that went on to popular and critical acclaim.
Goehl served in Vietnam before entering Chicago law enfocement
Goehl volunteered for Vietnam in 1968 at age 18, did 225 combat missions, then went to work for the FBI, before returning to Chicago to work for Cook County Sheriff Richard Elrod and later Cook County Treasurer Ed Rosewell.
Goehl says he became “one of the loyal soldiers in the Machine army” ruled by Mayor Richard J. Daley. He says he protected Rosewell from blackmail and extortion over Rosewell’s shocking personal secrets, and helped oversee a far-reaching financial scheme.
Goehl deposited county funds into interest-free “operating accounts” at various banks, allowing the banks to avoid paying the era’s double-digit interest rates, in exchange for kickbacks from bankers in the form of campaign contributions to Rosewell and interest-free loans to finance Goehl’s lavish personal lifestyle.
Goehl was convicted of bank fraud in 1984 after refusing to testify against officials including Rosewell. “I had less confidence in the feds ability to protect a songbird than in the power of the mob and the machine to make my life extremely unpleasant in or out of prison,” Goehl writes on the misterchicagomovie.com blog.
Rosewell was acquitted of bank fraud at the time but convicted of ghost payrolling in 1998. Goehl served 18 months in federal prison and had been living quietly in Florida for years when 10 years ago he told friend Cowan his story and she committed to turn it into a film.
“It’s been 35 years since I’ve spoken to a large group like this,” Goehl said at a party for prospective investors Sept. 26 at the Michael Group in River North. “We can’t change who we were before, but we can change who we are today.”
Bonansinga co-wrote the script, Sean Stone stars
Oliver Stone’s son, Sean Stone, is attached to star as a character based on Goehl. Brett Leonard (Virtuosity, Lawnmower Man) is director. “I’ve always wanted to do a film of this genre,” Leonard said. “This is the best script I’ve read in the genre, and I’ve read thousands.”
Jay Bonansinga, who co-wrote four Walking Dead novels with franchise co-creator Robert Kirkman, wrote the Mister Chicago screenplay with Goehl. “When I met Gary, I heard his theme song, I saw him walking down Rush Street in Scorsese slow-mo,” Bonansinga told prospective investors.
Bonansinga is also co-writing Goehl’s memoir.
Carrie Holt de Lama is the movie’s line producer.
Schmiedeler is also developing a nonfiction TV project based on Goehl’s story.