MANLIUS, N.Y., Dec. 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Watergate. Whitewater. Saltshake? While you've most likely heard of the first two political scandals, the latter is only widely known in upstate New York. Now the story will receive national attention, as Emmy Award winning filmmaker Roger Springfield announces production of a documentary film, "A Greek Tragedy: The Rise and Fall of Lee Alexander."
Operation Saltshake was the name given to an FBI and U.S. Attorney's office investigation into political kickbacks in the mid-1980s. At the center of the expansive probe was the "rock-star" mayor of Syracuse, NY, Lee Alexander. Springfield is directing this historic biopic about a savvy son of Greek immigrants, who lived the American Dream before it spiraled into a classic Greek tragedy.
Who was this enigmatic man who captured the hearts of so many important political leaders and ordinary citizens alike? In his film, Springfield will chronicle the paradoxical life of Alexander, using archival news footage, family photographs and first person interviews with more than thirty people who witnessed his rise and fall. Springfield expects the film, "a compelling chronicle of the human condition," to be completed and released in 2014.
Alexander was a handsome, charismatic, articulate icon-in-the-making, who rubbed elbows with presidents. As a powerful leader of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Alexander worked with first, Richard Nixon, then Jimmy Carter, to develop and implement a critical federal government revenue sharing initiative for American cities. But first and foremost, Alexander looked out for his own city, securing more than $800 million dollars in federal and state aid, at a time when most cities in the Northeast struggled to remain solvent. Thanks to Lee Alexander, Syracuse was not only fiscally fit; it was thriving. So was his personal bank account.
In 1987, the enigmatic mayor admitted to "shaking down" government vendors for more than $1.5 million dollars. Eight men were sent to prison for their roles in the conspiracy. Alexander, the mastermind, spent nearly six years behind bars. Following his release in 1993, the now disgraced mayor returned to the city he ruled for an unprecedented sixteen years. He reconciled with his long estranged wife, whom he had publicly humiliated with a succession of brazen flings and affairs. The citizens of Syracuse also granted their fallen, but beloved leader absolution. Despite battling a series of illnesses, including manic-depressive disorder, Alexander was poised for a comeback.
But his Second Act never materialized. In 1996, Alexander's health deteriorated rapidly after receiving a stunning diagnosis of terminal lung cancer. As word of his imminent death spread, dozens of long-time friends came to say goodbye. So did many of the co-conspirators, who had been his closest advisors – before turning on him nine years earlier. They made peace. He died just three weeks after his diagnosis, on Christmas Day. The city council passed a resolution honoring the city's defrocked former mayor, and thousands came to pay their respects. His body lay in state at – where else – City Hall. It was only fitting.
SOURCE Innovision Film & Video Productions