What happens when you combine “Goodfellas” with college basketball? You get “Playing for the Mob,” the story of how mobster Henry Hill – played by Ray Liotta in the 1990 Martin Scorsese classic – orchestrated the fixing of Boston College basketball games in 1978 and 1979. The details of that point-shaving scandal are revealed for the first time on film through the testimony of the players, the federal investigators and the actual fixers, including Hill, who died shortly after he was interviewed. “Playing for the Mob”may be set in the seemingly golden world of college basketball, but like “Goodfellas,” this is a tale of greed, betrayal and reckoning. Ultimately, they both share the same message: With that much money at stake, you can’t trust anybody.
Joe Lavine is an eight-time Emmy award and two-time Peabody award wining documentary producer/director.
Joe’s career in sports television began more than thirty years ago while a student at University of Maryland. Working as a runner at a Yankees/Red Sox game, Joe had the privilege of being paid for sitting in a major league dugout. That Yankees coach Yogi Berra emptied a full cheek’s worth of tobacco onto Joe’s shoe did nothing to dissuade him. Joe decided television production was the perfect career for him.
From runner to TV producer, Joe spent thirteen years as a producer with Major League Baseball Productions before moving on to HBO Sports. There, he produced and directed a host of critically acclaimed documentaries—later taking on more responsibility as Senior Documentary Producer and Vice President.
Joe’s films have examined some of the most iconic personalities in sports—Muhammad Ali, Howard Cosell, Joe Louis, Joe DiMaggio, Vince Lombardi and Joe Namath. Others of his films take on complex issues that intersect sports and society. Breaking the Huddle traces the integration of college football in the South. Ali-Frazier I looks at two very different sides of American politics. Nine Innings from Ground Zero considers the traumatic aftermath of 9/11 through the baseball World Series that followed. In that film, as in many others, Joe’s interview subjects include not just athletes, but also entertainers, politicians, social scientists, and even American presidents. In addition to his documentary work, Joe has produced features for Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.
Joe is the founder of Trenton Makes Productions. A native of Trenton, he lives in New Jersey with his family. “Playing for the Mob” is his first film for ESPN’s 30/30 series.