NEW YORK – As the all-powerful "Godfather" Michael Corleone, Al Pacino (search) whisked his two children away from their mother, barring her from ever seeing them again.
As a real-life father, he gripes, he can't even get a play date when he wants to. The screen legend made his premiere appearance yesterday in Manhattan Family Court, where he's locked in a bitter child custody battle over his 2-year-old twins with his actress ex, Beverly D'Angelo (search).
In court for a routine scheduling conference, he said little more than his name for the record. But afterward, speaking through his lawyer, Pacino took off the gloves.
"Beverly continues to use the kids in a way that almost makes them hostages," said Pacino's lawyer, Martin Wasser.
"We sometimes joke that we are dealing with a baby rental company," the lawyer continued. "For every extra hour Al wants to spend with the children, she wants to be paid more money."
But D'Angelo -- best known for playing Chevy Chase's wife in the National Lampoon's Vacation series -- has taken off her own gloves.
Pacino is a controlling, harassing man who has never changed a single diaper, D'Angelo complained through a member of her own camp, who asked not to be named.
D'Angelo is happy to have Pacino visit the twins -- son Anton and daughter Olivia -- but he refuses to stick to their court-approved visitation schedule.
Instead, the D'Angelo source said, Pacino "harasses her constantly."
The love affair of Pacino, 63, and D'Angelo, 48, fell apart after D'Angelo had the kids through in-vitro fertilization.
Then Pacino filed for joint custody -- and cut off her $50,000 a month in unofficial palimony -- after D'Angelo told him in January she was moving back to Los Angeles.
Pacino is continuing to pay some $35,000 a month in child-care expenses for the children, as well as footing the bill for D'Angelo's $18,000-a- month West Side apartment.