A former mobster from South Philly comes to terms with his son's gay life in West Hollywood in the new Logo series In The Big House which premieres on July 23.
Louis F. Verdi a/k/a Big Lou once ran a gambling ring out of his bar La Strada Café on South Eight Street until it was busted in February 1983, and Big Lou ended up serving three years in prison for the racket. At the time of his arrest Big Lou was described by law enforcement as an associate of mob soldier Frank "Chickie" Narducci who was a one-time driver for Philly boss Angelo Bruno. Bruno was whacked in March 1980 and Narducci in January 1982 which marked the start of a long period of internal strife within the Philadelphia Mafia.
Big Lou long ago left the crime family, and now is part of a modern family. He's living under the same roof with his daughter Michel Verdi and her husband Jay in West Hollywood where the married couple owns a gay bar, and also sharing the home are Big Lou's ex-wife Dotsie and their gay son Lou Jr.
Trailers for In The Big House seemingly portray Big Lou as rather oafish in dealing with his son's openly-gay lifestyle but odds are he has a bigger heart than the show's producers are revealing through the sneak previews. His second wife Mary Capell died of lung cancer in January 2010, and by all accounts the former mobster provided loving care throughout her illness which was more consistent with Mother Teresa than goodfella. Mary died in Big Lou's arms, and his words on her passing reflected a genuine heart of sadness as reported by Lorraine Gennaro for South Philly Review:
"I miss her so bad. I am so much at peace with myself because I was there [caring for her] like I promised her. I did everything that I told her I would do and she knew I loved her to the end. I miss her terribly. She was my best friend."
The dramatic tension for In The Big House may not come from Big Lou's acceptance of his son's homosexuality but with Michel's and Lou Jr.'s acceptance of their father who was not always present for them as children. Big Lou once admitted that in his wise guy days "he was pretty dumb about his home life" as reported by Daniel Rubin in a December 23, 2009 article for The Philadelphia Inquirer:
"My son's birthday, I'd spend $2,000 on a party with a pony and everything," he said. But when it was time to cut the cake, Lou Verdi was nowhere to be found. "Who wants to be around a bunch of screaming kids?" he asked. "I never for one time stopped and thought about their feelings. It was always about me. My wife would be, 'Lou, please come home, I miss you.' " He paused. "I hate myself for that." He was describing the Lou Verdi of a quarter century ago.
In The Big House promises to be a story of redemption, and I'm rooting for the entire family.