tv The News With Shepard Smith CNBC December 12, 2020 12:00am-1:00am EST
if everybody's making fortunes and the champagne is flowing, you know it's all gonna come to a crashing halt. [narrator] new york city.ng] [woman] happy new year! at the dawn of the 80s it was exploding with opportunity. [newsreader] boom times. that's what the numbers signal today, an economy that's on a roll in this country. a place to seek money, power, fame. amid the glitz and greed, five titans seized their moment... and by 1983, some were crossings lines that couldn't be uncrossed. a mysterious trader had convinced the market he was a magician, when in reality he was just a cheater. [man 2] boesky was blatantly violating the law with insider trading. a poor girl from brooklyn had become the queen of hospitality
but her fairy tale would soon take a very dark turn. [woman 2] she has become fortuitously cruel. leona helmsley forgot the most important lesson, which is you should keep your friends close and you keep your enemies closer. a real estate showman had won his nasty battle with the city and was preparing to make his biggest gamble yet. [donald trump] yes! [newsreader] donald trump has also ventured into gambling. [charles bagli] wall street was willing to give him whatever he wanted. and as the new sheriff in town plotted the move that would launch him to stardom... giuliani cast himself as the law and order man of new york. [rudolph giuliani] this is a great day for law enforcement but this is a bad day, probably the worst, for the mafia. a ruthless young capo made a move of his own. one that would shake the mafia to its core. [woman] her son, who was fresh in the ground when she said "i will destroy you." [barbara res] he couldn't get out of his own way when it came to being cheap. [woman] one more complaint... i close you up.
[woman] she was definitely a bitch and i don't mean that in a pejorative sense. these five titans would reshape the city and the world we live in today. and in 1983, nothing could stand in their way. [newsreader] what a year it's been for music. top of the charts this week is "every breath you take" by the police. [newsreader] boom times. that's what the numbers signaled today, an economy that's on a roll in this country. with the recent building boom, new york city skyline is ever changing, and today a topping out ceremony was held at trump tower. by 1983, the country's economic fortunes had rebounded
and for many the despair of the late 70s was starting to feel like a distant memory. it seemed that maybe reagan had made america great again and new york city was greatest of all. [andrew ross sorkin] you had people like ivan boesky all of a sudden making millions of dollars, going to lunch for thousands of dollars. [leona helmsley] look at the shape of his head. you ever seen a head shaped that way in your whole life? [sorkin] parties with helicopters landing on boats. and this was new money. this wasn't old money any more. america's next generation of leaders, the "yuppies," what some people call the "y" word now, they're young urban professionals... [newsreader] for yuppies. it's all about business. capitalism is in. the yuppie likes to go home, slap on his swatch, put on his reeboks, turn his socks inside out. then you put on a little bit fancy denim jean because you know, you don't want to go out with your basic levis. how are you doing? [bryan burrough] you were young, you were making money and were utterly unashamed about it.
we're going for the 80s. we're going for the six figure. that's all we want. [man] new york had transformed into a playground built on money. it was a playground all right, and not just for well dressed wall streeters. in the shadows, another enormous industry was humming along. sucking in cash from almost every corner of the city. [newsreader] when you do something as simple as this, the mob collects. they've got a cut of the vending machine business. construction, the life blood of new york. it also gives transfusions of money and power to organized crime and it goes on and on. the garment industry, jewelry, automobile dealerships, that drink before dinner, the dinner at a mob-controlled restaurant or just a pizza after the movie. [michael chertoff] back in the 80s, if you were a new yorker you understood that the mob was a very, very powerful force in the life of new york city.
essentially, it was almost as if the mafia was a separate government that could tax the citizens of new york for almost everything they bought. [newsreader] builders, far from trying to oust the mob, depend on it to cut costly delays and red tape. and what does super developer, donald trump believe? i really don't know anything about it. [george gabriel] the mobs are making good money. they're getting rich with the building boom, but then you have the normal rackets. the mob, it's a multi-billion dollar a year enterprise. gambling, loan sharking, racketeering. all tools of the trade for the five organized crime families. it was about making money but it was also about power. [ed mcdonald] new york city had five organized crime families. the bosses of the five families comprised what they called the new york commission. with a group of the five leaders of the five families. the bosses of the gambino, genovese, bonanno, colombo, and lucchese crime families. [randy mastro] those five family heads would literally meet on a regular basis and plot out their empire
.as if they were businessmen, only their business was a criminal enterprise. they divided up the city and divided up the different industries. they were operating as a company. yet city officials and prosecutors seemed to be doing little or nothing about it the city was crying out for someone to take a leadership role. [newsreader] ruldoph giuliani is a man of many dimensions. he loves listening to classical music and he loves listening to opera. [giuliani] probably it's genetic. i think if you're italian there has to be an interest in opera just as in your chromosomes. rudy giuliani was a remarkable crusading us attorney. with an organized crime epidemic sweeping the city, 1983 proved the perfect time for a bold prosecutor to re-enter new york and orchestrate his meteoric ascent sent to the top. he did it by enforcing the rules although he didn't always play by them.
[jonathan mahler] rudy giuliani came into office as us attorney for the southern district in manhattan. he was ruthlessly ambitious and had higher office on his mind from an early age. when he came here he had a lot of support in washington behind him. he'd been a third ranking person in the justice department. the number three job in washington, you're serving someone else. the number one job in new york is much more high profile. [sean deveney] if you're coming into new york city in the early 80s, you've got to be a little bit bold in terms of what you think you can do to help the city. but you have to be even bolder if you're looking at it and say, "wait, what can this do for me?" a question you hear increasingly now is, "who is rudolph giuliani? and what does he want?" [laughs] well, i'm the us attorney and what i want is to be as effective as i can be as the united state's attorney. rudy, really presented himself as the answer to all of the villains of new york city
in the 1980s or you know, name your mobster. hopefully with an organization like the mafia, we will wear them down. according to rudy, his father's hate for the mafia was why rudy became such a mafia fighter. growing up, rudy's father had made it clear to him that the opportunities for italian americans had been limited in this country because of their image. italian americans had gotten a bad rap and that this was in large part because of the mob these are extremely dangerous individuals. they are people who destroyed the lives of other human beings. [kurt andersen] rudy giuliani was this seemingly incorruptible straight arrow, boy scout, eagle scout. he was trying be one of the untouchables. he was a little bit of a nerd. [andrew kirtzman] he saw himself as the enforcer of morality. that came from the upbringing and a catholic household and catholic schools. and at one point he wanted to be a priest.
and it wasn't until he was a sophomore in college that he gave up on that, decided, "maybe the celibacy thing isn't for me." but he never really lost that sense of moral crusade. i think he liked the mafia in some ways. it was a great target 'cause what can you say positive about the mafia? and he was gonna save the country from the mafia. rudy giuliani explained to me his vision of putting together a case against the entire mafia commission as an enterprise. there was something on the books called the rico statute. under the rico umbrella, you could convict a whole family infrastructure of conspiring together as an organized crime family. and so rudy's idea was, "why don't we do that against the commission as if it is a distinct enterprise and conspiracy that we can prosecute under the racketeering law. it seemed like an audacious, very interesting plan. i was excited to work on it.
the eastern district in new york and brooklyn and rudy giuliani were supposed to share this case but rudy went to washington and he said, "i'm the guy who's really equipped to do this. i should be put in charge." his mentor in washington, the attorney general, made it happen. rudy's agenda was rudy and what was driving him was what rudy was doing and his relentless climb. rudy didn't care whose toes he's stepping on, he wanted to be at the top and he wanted fame. he would stop at nothing to get what he wanted. the stage was set for an epic new york show down. having eliminated his competition, the young prosecutor prepared to take on the mob. he knew that the headlines would be sensational. and that if he succeeded... he wouldn't have to share them with anyone. our essential mist transforms fragrance infused [newsreader] it took four years and 300
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can celebrate with the opening of trump tower. [nikki haskell] as part of the nikki haskell show, i filmed the opening of the trump tower. it was an amazing place. it was so opulent, so chic... ...it was more than anybody had seen in the city before. everyone knows steve rebel, a man that created night life in new york. -[steve rebel] how are you? -hi honey. -good. how are you? -welcome to the trump towers. yeah. it's beautiful isn't it? [david cay johnson] you walk into it. it has this huge marble atrium. and it has this giant waterfall, and it makes you sort of feel in awe, the way cathedrals do in europe. and it's this monument to glittering wealth. i think we're in for a hot time if this is any indication of the 80s. trump tower was the epitome right at that moment in time of what it meant to be wealthy in the united states. [bagli] donald trump was able to capture this moment where he defined luxury. the trump tower got so much publicity.
[newsreader] trump tower is a major draw for tourists, with apartments selling for up to $10 million. and in the middle of it was donald trump. rewarded for his vision and praised for his ambition, the new titan of real estate had arrived and image trumped all. the more he flaunted his wealth and status, the more the city revered him. [newsreader] as long as this building stands, there will probably be some who will refer to trump tower as the house that tax abatements built. but that's kind of a ground floor look at this building. if you look a little bit higher, you'll see another story. a story of entrepreneurial vision, huge capital investment and sheer guts. he made his reputation on this. helping donald create a mythology around himself. i always like going first class. trump tower is the ultimate in first class and that's why it's been successful. everything was classy, this was very high class and this one has class and that one has class and you know, this looks like class.
it was a big deal to him. he had class on the brain. but the finishes in the apartments were... really crap, excuse the expression. he couldn't get out of his own way when it came to being cheap. [bagli] donald trump created the aura that he was a premier developer, the best deal maker, the best builder, the best at anything that he touched. [trump] people come up to me and they say, "oh, donald, you're so lucky. "everything just falls into place for you." and it's not that way at all. you have to make it fall in place. the world now saw him as a tycoon and that image would become his biggest bargaining chip as he embarked on his next great venture. [newsreader] in a flash the glamorous world of casinos have lined the boardwalk. it's las vegas east. [newsreader] the man who, at the age of 39, is not content with being new york city's latest real estate billionaire. donald trump has also ventured into gambling. [jack o'donnell] money. i mean money is what appealed to donald trump
when it came to the casino industry. i think he saw an opportunity for vast amounts of cash to be generated. profits were just unbelievable and donald trump took a look at that and said, "i want in." [o'donnell] trump plaza became really the most successful property in atlantic city. [don king] here we are, trump. [bagli] donald was going down there on his helicopter. he would offer rides to big spenders and then he turns around and buys another casino. donald trump got his second casino, trump castle, for $320,000,000. donald trump did not set foot in the castle before he purchased it. it was a very quick transaction. the trump castle opened with great fanfare because it was donald trump. but everything that donald trump did at these casinos he financed through debt and all the debts added up eventually at the castle and at the plaza.
however, the banks, you know, had bought in, but at that point, to trump... despite the growing level of debt, wall street was willing to give him whatever he wanted. he would spend money without consequence. [michael kruse] when banks kept lending him money there was nothing in his way. he was going to do exactly what he wanted for as long as he could get away with it. yeah!! all right! pretty soon donald trump goes on this incredible spending spree. he bought the new jersey generals. way to go fellas. he buys mar-a-lago in florida. he also bought a huge development site: the rail yards on the west side. this will be one of the great jobs of all time. as he's developing this empire he's borrowing more and more money at higher and higher interest rates.
you're talking about a huge amount of debt. [johnson] aiding him in this is this whole cultural change where we started judging people by the content of their wallet, or in donald's case, the claimed content of their wallet. in many respects, donald trump was the poster boy for the 1980s. a lot of people just didn't look below the surface. he was able to live on that image for a very long time. the minute something starts to go wrong, the entire house of cards was going to start to fall down. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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[newsreader] nbc news now is able to project the re-election of ronald wilson reagan. [gil troy] ronald reagan in 1984 wins, and not just wins but he wins in a landslide. [bethany mclean] the champagne is flowing, the good times feel like they can only continue. by 1984 the message was clear: america was back and for that we could thank the almighty dollar. [man] the president of the us, accompanied by john j fallon and donald t reagan. [cheering] [ronald reagan] the last time i visited the new york stock exchange was in 1980 and the mood sure was different then. but in the last five years we've moved from malaise to hope, confidence, and opportunity. new york becomes a symbol of the great success, of america's return politically, culturally, but at the end of the day it's america, economical. [bell ringing and cheering]
reagan felt that people should be given the opportunity to get as rich as they can get. [ken auletta] ronald reagan's message was that giving tax breaks to the wealthy is fine because it trickles down. we need to get regulations out of the way. and donald trump and leona helmsley and ivan boesky and wall street and a lot of very wealthy people were beneficiaries. [bagli] but the rich get richer and the poor even poorer. [newsreader] trump has gotten rich by building for the wealthy. his critics say, at the expense of the poor. [troy] people feel exiled. they've not only lost their homes and their neighborhoods, they've lost their voice and they've lost their power. as the public sector was starved, private profit was prioritized and so for every dollar that was going to donald trump to build something like trump tower, that was a dollar that was not going to the south bronx.
[darryl mcdaniels] they were leaving us and not caring about us. it was very desperate in the 80s. people was trying to figure a way to make it out of here. from a community of people that nobody cared about, that nobody thought there was any hope for, that nobody had any expectations of, they found their way out. they found their way out through the arts. [rapping] broken glass everywhere! people pissing on the station. no, it just don't care. i can't take the smell, i can't take the noise. got no money to move out so i got no choice. [rapping] rats in the front room, roaches in the back, junkies in the alley with the baseball bat i tried to get away but i couldn't get far 'cause a man with a tow truck repossessed my car. when the message came out about grandmaster flash, those words was the vibe of everybody. that was the truth of new york city was and it came from the young black people from the bronx!
through the block parties and the park parties on the streets of new york city, we was able to tell our stories and our feelings and our emotions. that's when all the resources would have to come our way. [michael holman] artists living on the lower east side, hanging out in the east village. we were hearing about this movement that was going on uptown. hip-hop was djs and mcs and d-boys and graffiti and break dancers and it was profound and we had to do something about it. we put to together a party called the canal zone party. if you're lost you can find yourself, right here, right now in the canal zone. which was really the first time that uptown hip-hop culture would rub shoulders with the downtown fine arts scene. [newsreader] dj jazzy-jay has been heavily involved in introducing hip-hop and rap culture to downtown manhattan and the rest of the world.
very quickly it was recognized that we've got something special here. and it was just, like, off to the races after that. the sugar hill gang came out with "rapper's delight." and no. 1 records like blondie's rapture and films made about hip-hop allowed hip-hop to have a national and international stage. by the mid 80s, everywhere you look everybody was writing about kurtis blow, grandmaster flash, dj hollywood, whodini, jimmy spicer. i'm jam master jay. dj run. and my name is dmc. say ho! [crowd] ho! say, ho, ho, ho, ho, ho... we did a "b" side of a record called sucker mcs. [rapping] ...and you sucker mcs is who i please. so take that and move back catch a heart attack. with the same attitude that people rhyming about selling drugs and doing stick-ups, i'm rhyming about going to school. [rapping] i'm dmc, in the place to be i go to st. john's university
and since kindergarten i acquired the knowledge and after 12th grade i went straight to college. my whole thing was, even in all of this stress and strife, there's some good there. people started gravitating to the hope that was in our records. run-dmc became the definitive representation of 80's new york. fashion, sound, style, look, and attitude. the leather pants, the godfather hats, that's how jay went to school in 9th grade. jay was run-dmc in 9th grade before we even called him to dj for us. jay wore that hat. that's how those boys and girls were dressing. and when everybody outside of new york started seeing run-dmc, everybody else wanted to dress like new york. hip-hop had become so big, by 1984 the new york city breakers are invited to perform at the kennedy center honors, televised on cbs, in front of ronald reagan.
that golden age of hip-hop showed that we can be part of that affluent commercialized world. we changed everything. we created a tidal wave of people wanting to come to new york to experience the clubs and the lifestyle. it was the most creative, artistic period in the history of the world down there. run-dmc, keith herron, grandmaster flash, madonna. wow! everyone wanted to be in new york. the 80s would become known as the golden age of hip hop. from its birth place in the bronx, this new genre would re-write the rules of music for decades to come. [tv presenter] from downtown manhattan, tv new york. everylet's skip the rinse. waste up to 20 gallons. finish quantum with activeblu technology,
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it saying that, "you have tied up all of my assets, therefore i can't afford an attorney." 'cause i think that's a real phony issue. while the ambitious young prosecutor was putting together the final pieces of his case against the mafia, another star was rising on the opposite side of the law. inside the crime world's most powerful family. the gambino family was the most powerful, was the wealthiest. paul castellano was the boss. [newsreader] paul castellano, the boss of the gambino family, identified as the man who presides over commission meetings. the boss of all bosses. he had one rule, no drugs, the penalty was death. you had to say paul castellano was a business man. he was not a showy, flashy guy with a pinky ring.
kept a low profile and it was really about maximizing his control over legitimate businesses. [newsreader] next in line were 20 capos, or captains, the skippers who ran the crews of soldiers. [bruce mouw] when we first started investigations into the gambino family we identified all the players. we also identified a rising star a then-captain named john gotti. he may have been just a street kid from the bronx, but he had wild ambition from the start. he would stop at nothing to get what he wanted and what he wanted was power, even if that meant breaking the cardinal rule of his own clan. he didn't care. john gotti inspired a lot of loyalty from his crew and because of that he felt comfortable getting involved in something that was happening underneath the noses of the big bosses. [george gabriel] gotti's crews were getting very active in the drug business.
these guys were earning tremendous money with it and they had to cover up john at the time. [newsman] the man climbing out of the buick is angelo ruggiaro, he was on john gotti's crew along with john gotti's own brother, jean gotti. [jerry capeci] one of the rules that mob has, in theory, is you're not supposed to deal with drugs. but the real rule is don't get caught dealing drugs. the idea is if you get caught dealing drugs, we can kill you for violating the rules. [deveney] especially the gambino family with paul castellano as the boss he did not look kindly on dealing drugs. he was somebody who wanted the mafia to get more into legitimate business. [chertoff] so john gotti had violated the rules and if paul castellano ever found out, gotti would be killed. [george gabriel] i think john was born to be a "wise guy." it was as if it was in his blood [capeci] in the east new york section of brooklyn he joined a gang and decided that that was a way to make his mark. [ed mcdonald] he started out stealing money from grocery stores
and it advanced to the stage where they were hijacking trucks. [bruce mouw] they always called him "good looking john" or the "good looking guy." john loved all the compliments. he just loved having his butt kissed. so that's when we get close to him. "hey, john, you look good today. you working out? your arms look good." you know, "nice hair john." he loved all the compliments. some people felt that, you know, he had enough charm and charisma that if had an education he could have been the chairman of ibm. but there were other people who just thought he was an ignorant thug. [newsreader] he has been called everything from terrifying to charismatic. gotti had a good life. he ran hijacking at kennedy airport, gambling and loan sharking in queens. in order to become a capo of the mafia you have to prove your worth. you had to be feared, you had to be respected. gotti was a blood-thirsty, ruthless, violent criminal, but he was gonna get what he wanted. part of your badge of honor is to do time and do it well and not complain about it and then come home and start committing crimes again. these guys are psychopaths. they're not like normal people.
they have the ability to go out and kill somebody, in cold blood like put a gun to the head and blow their brains out; go home, eat dinner with the wife and kids and go to sleep. [mcdonald] people recognized him as a future power within the gambino crime family. but i don't think there was any doubt that that was what his ambition was. gotti wanted to move up into the leadership position of the family. [newsreader] he became a made member of the family by murdering a man who had kidnapped and killed gambino's nephew. john gotti made his bones by taking part in the killing of jimmy mcbratney in staten island in the mid 1970s. mcbratney was an irish gangster who had taken part in the kidnapping of carlo gambino's nephew. when he got out of prison, gotti pledges allegiance to the mob, agrees that he will do whatever the boss tells him to, whenever he tells him to. but that was not john gotti. in new york where the drug problem is especially severe, authorities have made a major bust... [newsreader] one that involved organized crime, a member of the gambino family.
ruggiero was heard on a wire-tap talking about heroin deals with gotti's brother and other crew members. in a six month period they trafficked 50 kilos of heroin, which is a lot of dope back in those days and they run like $150,000 a kilo. [capeci] john gotti's crew ended up being indicted... [newsreader] angelo ruggiero and jean gotti had both been indicted for selling large amounts of heroin, breaking the rules of the gambino family, which could result in a mob death sentence. when paul castellano, the boss of the crime family heard that john gotti and his crew were dealing drugs, he was livid. [mouw] gotti was terrified of castellano because he knew how ruthless he could be. castellano was against narcotics and if you got caught dealing drugs, the penalty was death. he had a lot of good hit men around him and he would have him killed. [mcdonald] paul wanted to make an example of john gotti's guys. since he was the capo, gotti himself would be executed. it became a "kill or be killed" situation for john gotti and his crew.
and the reason that we're here is because all the top celebrities are staying here. ever desirable elizabeth taylor. it's john forsythe, star of dynasty... [taylor-gordon] in the 80s there was no hotel that compared to the helmsley palace. ...it's the fonz, henry winkler. you went there to be seen and mrs. helmsley was having breakfast there too. leona helmsley was the queen but not of a country. she was the queen of a hotel. of a real estate empire. she never felt that she was one of the people she considered the little people. that was where she came from and it was very important for her to be at the top of the game. the daughter of a hat maker had married her king and now he made her the ruler of his domain so she set about putting her personal stamp on every aspect of every property,
no matter the cost or the consequences. [tovah feldshuh] leona was a brilliant balabusta, and that's the yiddish word for the executive of a house. she made sure that her 27 hotels operated at top drawer. she worked on those hotels, as she said, 25 hours a day, eight days a week. the palace was the jewel in her crown. it was her "hope diamond." to decorate her helmsley palace, she ran $2 million over budget but there were phones in the bathroom and there were no more skimpy towels. [bill dowling] she had very expensive tastes, not necessarily good taste, sort of a garish taste actually. she wanted everything to be gold. who does that sound like? [laughs] but she was never constrained by budgets. leona was probably over budget on every single project that she handled. i remember once i went into harry's office with a report that said
that leona had run up over $1 million cost overruns on a particular thing she was involved with. he said, "thank you. let's just keep this between us. "it's only $1 million and i can afford it "and she makes me happy." the thing he did not say was that the limited partners were paying a lot of these expenses and they later sued him for those cost overruns. it was the first serious blow to harry's reputation throughout his long career. harry helmsley's oldest associates were quite concerned about the impact that leona was having on harry and on their relationship with harry. leona wanted to control harry one hundred percent. i remember once leona tried to get harry to make a decision on something and when he wouldn't do it she told hims he was gonna stop having sex with him, and guess who won? she definitely controlled him, absolutely. but then, leona wanted to control everyone in her life.
[feldshuh] she married very early, leo panzirer, a lawyer. they had a son, jay and then they divorced. leona helmsley's son and leona had a very complicated relationship. she tried to keep him hidden so that no one would figure out how old she was. [elaine silverstein] leona treated him like a pet: stand up, sit down, walk around. she clearly managed his life a lot. [glenn plaskin] she brought him into the business and she put him to work and i think she was a tough taskmaster and she may have been very strict with him. [dowling] probably the worst thing for him was that he had formed a partnership with her because then she was on him just about every day about something. i think the pressure of all that just got to him, and i think the stress got to him. [silverstein] jay had a heart attack at age 42.
[leona helmsley] if you've ever experienced losing a child... ...it leaves a hole forever. [silverstein] leona was very sad when jay died. [feldshuh] jay panzirer's wife was mimi doyle. when jay died an untimely death, leona turned on mimi and blamed mimi for the death of her son. there were some accusations or things that were printed in the tabloids and also in the new york papers that after your son died that you became... ...very ruthless to his wife-- what wife? she was married to him for one year. what is this? [silverstein] leona's answer to any stress was anger. leona needed to have someone to blame. she certainly wasn't gonna blame herself. it had to be someone fault, so it was mimi's fault.
wasn't jay's fault, he was dead. you think she killed your son? do i think so? yes. i'm not god but she didn't contribute to his welfare, let me say. at the funeral, jay was fresh in the ground when she turned to mimi and said, "i will destroy you." she tried to repossess the delorean she had given her. she charged mimi for the transport of the casket from florida. she sued for the possession of a topaz ring with 135 diamonds around it. she evicted mimi from her home. she had become gratuitously cruel. leona helmsley definitely deserves the moniker the "queen of mean" because she became vicious with people. she was mean as a rattle snake, especially to a number of people who had worked with her. she enjoyed the reputation of being mean. only she wouldn't have said it was mean, she would have said it was tough.
i asked for something. i did not get it from you, i want it. she didn't care about you. she cared about herself and getting ahead. she was a narcissist. the turnover of staff was high. i don't know how many of 'em quit and how many of 'em were fired. you know, we would hear "another one bites the dust" but we wouldn't know exactly why i was in her office one day when she called in an engineer and she said that someone's toilet was broken and they called the front desk twice and you didn't...you know. "mrs. helmsley, i was off duty that day." "i'm sorry, you're still fired." "what do you mean i'm still fired?" "i never go back on my decisions. you're fired." the waiter would come up with this big tray with stuff on it and it would be rattling. and she would turn to him and say, "do i scare you?" "no, mrs. helmsley." she was definitely a bitch, ok? and i don't mean that in a pejorative sense. she was hard-nosed. she was outspoken. she was feisty.
she believed that as long as they're talking about you it doesn't matter what they say. so if she could get away with it why shouldn't she? she was powerful. no one stood up to leona helmsley. [feldshuh] but leona helmsley forgot the most important lesson which is you keep your friends close and you keep your enemies closer. here are a couple answers... chances are you have some questions right nowtonight of an all-out mob war. lysol disinfectant spray and lysol disinfecting wipes together can be used on over 100 surfaces. and kill up to 99.9% of germs. lysol. what it takes to protect. -well, audrey's expecting... -twins! grandparents! we want to put money aside for them, so...change in plans. alright, let's see what we can adjust. ♪ we'd be closer to the twins. change in plans. okay. mom, are you painting again? you could sell these. lemme guess, change in plans?
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new york, 1985. the capo v. the don wasn't the only street fight about to go down. at that very moment a young prosecutor was taking aim at the entire new york mafia. a move that would rock the criminal underworld to its very core. the commission case was underway. you're listening to tapes and reading transcripts from all the various electronic surveillances we had going. we start learning that they're having meetings in staten island chaired by paul castellano. we decide, let's put a wire tap on castellano's house
'cause that's where the conversations are. sure enough, they start talking about construction and labor racketeering. [news] authorities say the tape includes talk of approving new members of the five families divvying up control of various industries and splitting the profits. [chertoff] there were photographs, there was physical evidence and, ultimately, there were witnesses that we talked to. it was a climax of an awful lot of work the godfathers of the new york mafia are in big trouble. they're about to be indicted on a wide variety of charges. [newsreader] led by the reputed boss of all bosses, paul castellano, head of the gambino family, four of new york's five godfathers appeared in federal court to face a wide range of racketeering charges. this case charges more mafia bosses in one indictment than any ever before. [kirtzman] giuliani indicted the heads of all the crime families in one fell swoop. no one had ever tried anything like that. there was no limit to giuliani's audacity.
this was not someone who was in favor of incrementalism. giuliani went for the top. [michael winerip] rudy giuliani should get his credit because the commission case was the first big shifting point where the mafia was in serious retreat. i was at the press conference where they announced the commission indictments. you know, rudy was front and center. [mcdonald] there must have been 20 people up there and he organized how we would be placed and it was set up so that i was [laughs] behind a curtain. [laughs] this is a great day for law enforcement; but this is a bad day, probably the worst, for the mafia. after he had some success and after he realized he could exploit that success, he would sharp elbow people out of the way so he would get the credit by himself. [kirtzman] there was no question when giuliani was boss who called the shots and everyone else was just kind of a supporting character in the giuliani movie.
mission accomplished. fame and glory achieved. it was a major victory for the kid from brooklyn. but not even he could have known the unintended consequences of his actions. [gabriel] when paul castellano's indicted it's putting the gambino family in flux. probably weakens paul a little bit, makes 'em vulnerable. little bit of internal power discussions going on. [newsreader] after posting $2 million in bail, paul castellano was ushered out of a federal courthouse in manhattan. [chertoff] when the commission case was going on, the mob was distracted. that helped john gotti consolidate his power. with the gambino family reeling, the opportunity to seize supreme power emerged and this brazen capo would pounce. the path was clear. the time was now. [chertoff] on december 16th, 1985,
john gotti's crew were waiting outside sparks steak house in manhattan. [gabriel] they wear trench coats and they wear those russian babushka hats. [chertoff] john gotti and sammy "bull" gravano were parked diagonally across the street waiting for paul castellano to arrive. [gabriel] they look over to the right and they see paul and tommy drive by. sammy realized that the teams were here. [chertoff] when paul castellano and tommy bilotti stepped out, gotti's crew acted quickly. [suspenseful music playing] seconds later, john gotti drove past the scene of the crime. sammy sammy "bull" gravano looked out the window, said, "they're done." paul castellano, the man authorities say
was the most powerful mafia boss in the nation was shot and killed in front of a new york city restaurant tonight. riddled with bullets on a public street by rival gangsters, who cursed him as he fell. a final insult, a bullet in the forehead as he lay dead or dying. [giuliani] what happened in the last day or two kinda brings you back to reality. but they're really at the core all about essentially, barbarians and murders. [winerip] the killing of paul castellano established john gotti as the celebrity gangster, the boss of the gambino crime family. [newsreader] gotti, then unknown to all but mob experts, attained overnight fame as the man said to be the new godfather. [gotti] come on, you know i don't know what the hell you were talking about. gotti's a megalomaniac, he'd loved himself, he thought he was the greatest thing ever and he wanted the world to know it. it helped fuel his notoriety and he became a folk hero, even among the media that was covering it. [chertoff] the 1980s is really this perfect storm that makes super heroes out of super villains.
we've become culturally more addicted to the stories of these larger-than-life people whether it's john gotti leona helmsley, donald trump, ivan boesky, or rudy giuliani, one thing that unites all of these people is a kind of vanity. they want the public to see how successful they are, how rich they are, how powerful they are, or how important they are. but they were all reaching too far, they were all flying far too close to the sun. there's no way that that can continue. you're asking for it. [dramatic music playing] new york city. [woman] happy new year! at the dawn of the 80s, it was exploding with opportunity. [newsreader] boom times, that's what the numbers signal today, an economy that's on a roll in this country. a place to seek money, power, fame. amid the glitz and greed, five titans seized their moment.