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'Show Me A Hero' Is Accurate Portrayal Of Time, Says Former Yonkers Mayor

Ex Yonkers Mayor Angelo Martinelli and Nay Wasicsko-McLaughlin, widow of Mayor Wasicsko, at the "Show Me A Hero" premiere in Yonkers. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Members of the Martinellii family, left to right, Ralph, Angelo, Jeanne and Michael. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman

YONKERS, N.Y. -- Angelo R. Martinelli, the former Mayor of Yonkers, admits it was strange to see himself portrayed on screen in HBO’s new miniseries “Show Me A Hero."

“I’m watching it and everyone is saying ‘Angelo this and Angelo that,' and I’m sitting right there," he said of the show which premieres Sunday at 8 p.m. (He attended a screening of the first two episodes Wednesday night at the Alamo Drafthouse.)

And while seeing the story about how he was defeated by Nick Wasicsko in 1987, and the housing desegregation battle that followed, was certainly a case of déjà vu, he said the show is overall acurate, though there was definitely a bit of poetic license.

“No one really called me Angelo,” he said, “it was more Mayor this and Mayor that." (Early scenes show city officials debating what Mayor Martinelli would say.)

The longtime Yonkers resident also doesn’t remember there being any truth to the fact that residents in his district created handmade signs calling for Wasicsko for mayor. "If it happened, it didn't happen in my neighborhood," he said.

Other than that, though, he said the show is true to the time period, including capturing the “mob mentality” that charged the city in the mid 1980s.

In fact, he plans on writing Jim Belushi, the actor that portrays him, a nice note thanking him for doing such a great job. “I think he played me better than I played me,” said Martinelli. (The two had long ago met for lunch at X20. "Jim told me he wanted to get into my head," he recalled.)

And though Martinelli said reliving all that happened so many years ago onscreen was difficult --"It was a time that really hurt Yonkers and cost me the election," he said -- in the end, it actually helped Yonkers come out for the better.

“I have to give Wasicsko credit," stressed Martinelli. "It was not easy to stand up to those people -- I'll tell you it was very, very bad for a while, but he had guts."

Martinelli said he’ll be watching the show Sunday with his family, some of whom were not able to attend the premiere.

“I’m curious to see what they think,” he said. “I want to know what everyone thinks.”

 

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