Posts Tagged Marisa Tomei

The King of Staten Island Rocks

PETE DAVIDSON/SCOTT CARLIN WITH HIS BOYS MOISES ARIAS, RICKY VELEZ AND LOU WILSON ON STATEN ISLAND

People who know me know I don’t do “review” reviews. I write about my experience seeing a show, or a film or any type of creative performance. I write about how it made me feel, and what the characters did. And if I don’t like it I don’t write about it at all.

WITH PETE DAVIDSON THE STAR OF KING OF STATEN ISLAND

Fortunately that’s not the case with The King of Staten Island because it would have been very difficult for me to ignore this project. It’s literally packed with comedian friends and people I know for a really long time.

Kudos first of all to director Judd Apatow, for bringing this amazing cast together, and creating cinematic magic. He produced, directed and co-wrote the script with Pete, and former SNL writer Dave Sirus who all did an amazing job telling this poignant story. When I spoke to Dave he said the experience working with Judd was surreal, and opening day was “a very weird day”, … in a good way!

WITH THE KING OF HOLLYWOOD COMEDY JUDD APATOW

Just to name the comedy people first, it’s Pete Davidson, Bill Burr, Ricky Velez, Lynn Koplitz, Derek Gaines, Keith Robinson, Pamela Adlon, Rich Vos and Bonnie Macfarlane, Liza Treyger, Mike Vecchione, Carly Aquilino, and Jessica Kirson.

 
I’m particularly happy for Pete Davidson, because I think he had a lot riding on this film personally. So many people including me were waiting excitedly for it to come out, and it would have been devastating if it had not turned out as well as it did. 

Pete gets so much press about so many different things, from all different angles, but he should be very proud of this project, which is loosely based on his own life.

And Judd must have been so proud that his daughter Maude was so great in the film playing Pete’s sister, who loves Pete/Scott in spite of himself.
I called Dave to congratulate him and he said it was a really crazy, “weird” day for him. I can only imagine. 

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film where I had a connection to so many people and even to a location in the film. I can’t do any spoilers so I’m going to keep this article limited mostly to the talent and the parts they played.

Pete, who stars in the film as Scott Carlin, and co-wrote it with Judd and Dave, plays a 24 year old Staten Island stoner who doesn’t have much direction, thanks to the confusion caused by his severe A.D.D.

He does have a dream though and that is to someday open a tattoo restaurant, which would be the first of it’s kind. Until that either happened or didn’t happen, he’d be just as comfortable hanging out in his basement with a few friends getting stoned.

He’s torn up about the death of his fireman Dad when he was only 7, but isn’t really in touch with that as the cause of his inner turmoil and emotional pain.

I happen to know Pete since he was about 17. He used to do my late night show at The Comic Strip. He’d come in late at night with Jordan Rock and was really shy and really funny. I had a feeling he was gonna do big things, but nobody could guess at the time where he would go, and the heights he would reach.

PETE DAVIDSON WITH JORDAN ROCK BACK IN 2011
WITH PETE DAVIDSON WHEN HE WAS 17

I shared the excitement with him when Nick Cannon took him under his wing and brought him out on the road, and Pete used to tell me how amazing it was being with Nick and Mariah.

And then some years later we shot some fun video interviews up in Montreal, when he was asked to perform at the Just for Laughs Festival two years in a row. I remember how excited he was about being up there.

Then one night at Gotham Comedy Club, where he performed pretty often, he introduced me to his girlfriend at the time, super funny comedian Carly Aquilino, and told her she could tell me anything because I was someone who could be trusted. That was very cool.

Carly also has a part in the movie as Tara, and I almost didn’t recognize her with her super blonde hair which has been many other colors including pink!

WITH CARLY AQUILINO OUTSIDE OF A COMEDY CLUB IN NYC

The last time I saw Pete was with Bill Burr when he and Bill produced Paul Virzi’s special and I drove up to watch the taping and hang out backstage with those guys.

Bill Burr, who is so great in this part, plays a fireman named Ray with a big caterpiller moustache, who winds up dating Pete’s Mom Margie, in the film played by my old friend, the incredibly talented Marisa Tomei.

WITH ACADEMY AWARD WINNER MARISA TOMEI

In 1995 I was working with the Audrey Hepburn Foundation and went to the first year of the Aspen Comedy Festival representing the foundation, whose goal was to help poor children all over the world. I knew Marisa from the Naked Angels theatre troupe, as she was one of the founding members, and I used to go every week as one of the writers whose work they’d read.

When I got back from Aspen the Hepburn foundation had a big event at Planet Hollywood and I asked Marisa to come and make a special appearance which she did as a favor. She had already won the Oscar for her performance in My Cousin Vinny, so it was a really big thing. And Bill Burr gets to kiss her in this film! #sojealous

BILL BURR WITH HIS BIG MOUSTACHE AND MARISA TOMEI

So many people had fun parts. Ricky Velez who’s one of Pete’s best friends in real life plays a best friend in the film as well, and is absolutely superb. He even gets to wear his favorite clothes, which is usually just jeans and a hoodie. He has a very big and important part in terms of what happens to him and to Pete/Scott during the film.

RICKY VELEZ JUST CHILLIN’ ON STATEN ISLAND

Derek Gaines from The Last O.G. plays a waiter in the Staten Island restaurant where Pete gets a job, and Derek is also a close friend and an old roommate of Pete’s. They actually lived together in real life and when I called him right after I saw the film to congratulate him he told me he was “so glad to work with a cast that knew how to play the line of comedy and drama together. Pete and Judd are a power collaboration that I’m so glad to be a part of.”

He went on to say ” Pete is my friend, we sorta grew up together in comedy. He was my roommate for Christ’s sake … I’m glad we stayed cool and he called me to do the part, .. and in the words of Lil Wayne, … it all worked out! (Tha Carter 5).”  In the film he even gets to show off his pop-and-lock skills!

WITH DEREK GAINES WHEN HE WAS MY GUEST ON SIRIUS XM RADIO

Keith Robinson has a funny scene playing a security guard, and Pamela Adlon who has a big part plays Bill Burr’s ex-wife, and the mother of their two adorable kids. Rich Vos and Bonnie Macfarlane have a cool scene in an Italian restaurant called Denino’s which happens to be owned by my dear friend Joe McBratney’s brother, Jimmy McBratney, and where I’ve actually eaten. Great food by the way!

WITH PAMELA ADLON STAR OF BETTER THINGS AT THE FRIARS CLUB

Lynne Koplitz has a very fun part and gets to let out her “inner Lynn” by playing a wise-cracking nurse and best friend to Marisa Tomei. All these people had a chance to act with Marisa Tomei! Amazing.

WITH LYNNE KOPLITZ BACKSTAGE AT SOME SHOW SOMEWHERE

And when I asked Lynne about working with Marisa she said, “ she was great to work with and needless to say so professional. It was very surreal at first being that it was my first role in a full length movie and there I was at rehearsal with this fantastic Oscar winning beauty, but she was very friendly and the entire environment of the movie was very family like which enabled me to get comfortable quickly.”

LYNNE KOPLITZ AND MARISA TOMEIE

She went on to say, “ I honestly can’t say enough nice things about working on this film. I adore Pete and always have and Ricky and Dave are just so generous, and fun and creative. And Judd, … well he just sets this confident and easy going collaborative tone that’s really great to work with.” Sounds like she liked it!

Liza Treyger plays a waitress in that same Italian restaurant where Pete’s character gets a job, Mike Vecchione doesn’t play a cop for which he’s so well suited, but he plays a fireman also with a moustache, and Jessica Kirson plays the owner of a pharmacy who has a very unusual interaction with Ricky Velez and his boys.

WITH STEVE BUSCEMI AT A FILM EVENT

And Steve Buscemi who has done some comedy parts in the past, like on Jim Gaffigan’s show, (where I accidentally walked onto the set while they were filming to say hello to Jim and ruined the take), plays a senior fireman as well, and adds his great talent to the already amazing cast.

But seeing Ray romance Margie stirred an emotional note with me because of all things, my parents were named Margie and Ray. That can’t even happen. When I told Bill Burr about it he said, “ What are the odds of that?” I was like “Basically zero.” And he also said he was glad I liked the film because he had a lot of fun doing it.

The film was very emotional in several spots, and ran the entire gamut of feelings. Some very funny parts and some very touching parts where Pete and I both had tears welling up in our eyes. Pete really showed that he had quite a range. He’s basically in every scene and it was very special to see him be so good and so believable in his role.

And I must give a special shout out to English actress Bel Powley who played Pete’s childhood friend and occasional hook-up in the film. She was just so good in her part as Kelsey, and she learned the Staten Island accent as if it was her own.

I read one review of the film where the writer used such big words and flowery expressions I couldn’t tell whether she liked it or not. I don’t even know how to write that way. I just write it simply the way I see it.

This is definitely a film you should see and I’m sure it will do great things for everyone who was involved in it. I sure wish I had been! (LOL)

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Peter Dinklage of "Game of Thrones" in Early Comedy Film

I first met Peter Dinklage more than 20 years ago, and I’m pretty sure it was through Ethan Hawke. I had been hanging out at the Naked Angels Theatre bringing my early work to be read, which is how I first met Ethan.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Ethan Hawke back in 2005 during his performance in Hurly-Burly!

I had written a play called “A Punch In The Face”, and was going to their Monday night reading series where you could get up and coming actors to read your stuff out loud. The purpose was for writers to evaluate their writing and make changes after hearing it read.

I was doing readings of ” A Punch In The Face” and a young actor who introduced himself as Ethan Hawke came over to tell me he really liked my piece. I had just read about him that very week in people Magazine about a movie he starred in called ” Alive” about people who survived a plane crash.

The Naked Angels was made up of Marisa Tomei, Matthew Broderick, Kenny Lonergan, Fisher Stevens, Sarah Jessica Parker, her brothers Toby and Pippin, and a host of others that have become household names. Somewhere along the way Ethan introduced me to Peter.

I was offered the opportunity to make some short comedy films for the Toyota Comedy Festival, and had about two weeks to get them done from start to finish, and I created what came to be known as The “Men Who” Series, based on a series of ideas I had told to Woody Allen many years before when I was still in Dental School. It was about men who did very unusual things, like ” Men Who Take A Pitchfork To The Movies”, “Men Who Enjoy Latin Dancing With Tools”, and “Men Who Dance Where They’re Not Supposed To”!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Woody Allen many years later in 2011!

In recent years when I re-connected with Woody Allen, as I was about to be re-introduced, I actually made him bust out laughing by saying, “Hi Woody, I’m a very close friend of yours!”

Anyway, back to The “Men Who” Series, … I cast them myself and when it came time to cast “Men Who Dance Where They’re Not Supposed To” I went to Peter Dinklage who kindly agreed to be in the film. He was one of three men who danced in the street wherever they wanted to, despite the fact that there were “No Dancing” signs posted everywhere.

I had my artist make up a perfect “No Dancing” sign that looked just like a “No Parking” sign and even had hours on it. I think it said, ” No Dancing Tues, and Thursdays or any other time!” We shot it on Broadway and 28th Street, where I also shot ” Men Who Dance In Traffic With The Sunday Edition of The New York Times!”

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Peter Dinklage currently starring in HBO’s “Game of Thrones!”

When the shoot was over, we accidentally left the sign up, and it created quite a traffic jam for a few days, because even then parking was very difficult in the city and drivers who were looking for a place to park found it very confusing to come up against a “No Dancing” sign. It even wound up as a Page 6 item in the NY Post!

Anyway, Peter was always a very talented actor so I’m not really surprised that he went on to become such a big star. I loved him in the award-winning film “The Station Agent” in which he starred with his good friend, the amazingly talented Bobby Cannavale from Boardwalk Empire, and in about 15 minutes the new season of “Game of Thrones” is coming on and I’m running to watch.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Bobby Cannavale at The Acorn Theatre on Theatre Row in NYC!

Check out below to see Peter dance where he’s not supposed to, … in a “No Dancing” zone!

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Steve Rannazzisi From "The League" at Gotham For Comedy Juice

You don’t need to be a fan of football to like FX’s The League. You just have to be a fan of good comedy shows! Comedy Juice at Gotham continues to draw the talent and last week I went down specifically to catch Steve Rannazzisi perform who plays Kevin on The League.

Steve Rannazzisi who plays “Kevin” on FX’s “The League” at Gotham Comedy Club!

Also because any friend of Nick Kroll’s is a friend of mine, .. whether they like it or not! (LOL) They have no choice. I LOVE Nick Kroll, and can’t wait for his new show on Comedy Central, which may or may not be called ” The Nick Show Kroll.”

Nick Kroll, Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, and John Mulaney at a comedy event!

Nick called me out to LA in March to appear in a couple of sketches with him and his good friend, ( and mine!), and writing partner John Mulaney, and when I got the e-mail asking me to be on the “Nick Show Kroll”, with “Nick Show Kroll” in the “Subject” line, I just assumed that whoever had written it had ADHD, and switched the words around, so of course I corrected it! I come from that kind of family where you politely correct other people’s mistakes! (LOL)

Nick Kroll as Gil Faizon on the set in LA with Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, who came out to act in some sketches!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV on the Nick Kroll set in LA with John Mulaney in his character as George St. Geegland, an obviously Jewish name if I ever heard one!

But each time I got another e-mail and it said “The Nick Show Kroll” I eventually realized that I was the moron and that that was really the name of the show!

The League was created by the husband-and-wife team of Jeff Schaffer (Curb Your Enthusiasm, Seinfeld) and Jackie Marcus Schaffer (Disturbia, Eurotrip) who serve as executive producers and directors, and it features an ensemble cast of young actors/comedians who seem to be in every cool project these days.

Mark Duplass (Humpday), for example, who seems to be in every movie and TV show that comes out, plays “Pete,” the perennial league champ who is really giving it his best effort to grow up. I just saw him in “Your Sister’s Sister” in which he was great, and had a cool love scene with his girlfriend’s (Emily Blunt) sister, who was a lesbian, played by Rosemarie DeWitt.

Stephen Rannazzisi (Paul Blart: Mall Cop) is “Kevin,” a happily married father, married to “Jenny,” played by the beautiful and talented Katie Aselton, who in real life is married to Mark Duplass. I told you he stars in EVERYTHING! Even in marrying Katie Aselton! (LOL)

I have a great video interview with both of them on the red carpet of the 2011 Comedy Awards, where they were up for several awards for the film ” Cyrus”, with Jonah Hill and Marisa Tomei, and a few months before Mark’s film ” Jeff Who Lives At Home” came out. They both promised me a role in that film even though it was shot and wrapped at the time! (LOL) Maybe because I’m, “Jeff”??? See it right here!

The fabulous couple of Katie Aselton and Mark Duplass on the red carpet of the Comedy Awards, laughing as they assure me I’d have a part in “Jeff Who Lives At Home” even though the movie was already finished and ready for release!(LOL)

Anyway, Steve as Kevin is also commissioner of the league.

Nick Kroll (Get Him to the Greek) plays Rodney “Ruxin,” a really funny character, who’s supposedly a product liability attorney married to a gorgeous wife “Sophia”, played by Nadine Velazquez. Ruxin believes he’s the smartest of the group, but is very paranoid and is always trying to figure out how the other guys are screwing him over.

Then there’s “Andre,” played by Paul Scheer (Human Giant), who is the brunt of many jokes by this group of friends, who have been friends since high school days, even though he is now a successful plastic surgeon.

And then there’s comic Jon Lajoie as “Taco,” Kevin’s little brother, who splits his time between being a musician and getting totally wasted, to the point where he doesn’t even remember who his friends are.

Anyway, the Comedy Juice show was hosted by Ross Gutin, who projects so well he didn’t need a mic, … and that’s a big room! He reminded me a little bit of a young Mario Cantone, and I mean that as a compliment!

I also got to see Louis Katz who’s had his own Comedy Central special, (as opposed to having someone else’s Comedy Central special, I guess! LOL) and he’s very funny in a way you don’t expect, judging by his outward personna, which is why they tell you not to judge a book by it’s bibliography! (I think that’s what they say!)

Louis Katz on stage at Gotham, telling about German traditions, for the Comedy Juice show with Steve Rannazzisi!

Louis commented that the tradition of the USA is to be ignorant of the traditions of other countries! For instance, he explained, in Germany it’s considered rude to leave your hat on while taking a dump on someone’s chest!

Steve Rannazzisi from “The League”, killing it onstage at Gotham for the Comedy Juice show!

Steve Rannazzisi had lots of memorable lines, but the one that stuck out for me was “the hardest part of leaving my family to go out on the road is not smiling while I’m packing!”

I was glad to see he drew such a big crowd, and I hope he remembers to give my regards to Nick Kroll, Katie Aselton, and Mark Duplass!

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Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Mike Birbiglia in "Your Sister’s Sister"

I get to see a lot of films before they hit the theatres and that is one of the perks of writing Comedy Matters for so many years. This week I had the pleasure of seeing Sundance award-winning filmmaker Lynn Shelton’s fourth feature film “Your Sister’s Sister”, and when I use the word “pleasure” I really mean it. The film was great!

Interestingly enough when I heard the title it reminded me of Mike Birbiglia’s My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, not knowing that he was even in this film. As the film opened on a group scene where friends gathered to remember their friend Tom who had passed away, it was all about Mike Birbiglia. He had the entire opening of the film, and it was great.

An unclear shot of Mike Birbiglia onscreen in “Your Sister’s Sister”, and I think he’s wearing his own clothes in this shot!

I tried shooting some screen shots but it didn’t work out that well, mostly because I was so startled to see him up there, I couldn’t stop watching to get a grip on my camera! (LOL)

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV backstage with Mike Birbiglia when he first did “Sleepwalk With Me” back in 2008.

Mike was recently in Sundance showing his own film “Sleepwalk With Me” which I saw when he did it live at the Bleecker Street Theatre. The New York Times called it “simply perfect”, and it was named “Comedy of the Year” by Time Out New York.

Richie Tienken, Mike Birbiglia, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Comic Strip after Mike filmed a scene for Sundance!

He came into The Comic Strip one night before he went to Sundance, to shoot a scene of him performing onstage to play over the credits of Sleepwalk With Me. That’s when I did this little video:

Mark Duplass is absolutely everywhere and for good reason. He’s incredibly talented, and he’s as nice as he is talented! The first time I met him was at a press junket for the film Cyrus which he wrote with his brother Jay, and which starred Marisa Tomei, John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill. It garnered well deserved rave reviews.

Jay Duplass with his arm around his brother Mark Duplass at the press conference for Cyrus their hit film starring Marisa Tomei, John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill!

I interviewed them both and then got to see Mark again on the red carpet of the First Annual Comedy Central Comedy Awards. He was with his beautiful wife Katie Aselton who is also an actor, co-stars with him in FX’s The League, and appeared in Cyrus as well. They assured me there was a part for me in their upcoming film “Jeff Who Lives At Home” even though it had already been shot and was ready to be released! (LOL)

Mark Duplass and his wife Katie Aselton from The League, on the red carpet of The Comedy Awards, holding up four fingers to show me how many awards they were up for!

You can see that right here in this red carpet video interview from my Comedy Matters TV channel:

When I was out in LA recently to shoot some sketches for Nick Kroll’s new show “The Nick Show Kroll” on Comedy Central, everyone on set was friends with Mark Duplass. Nick, as Ruxin, is one of the stars on FX’s hit show “The League”, and Mark and his wife Katie Aselton also star on that show as well. Mark is definitely everywhere you look these days, and deservedly so.

In “Your Sister’s Sister” Mark plays Jack, the brother of Tom who died recently. Tom’s girlfriend Iris, played by the fantastic Emily Blunt, is Jack’s best friend and because he is emotionally spent she offers him her family cabin on an island in the Pacific Northwest so that he can just chill and get back to himself.

Emily Blunt in a serious onscreen moment with Rosemarie DeWitt in “Your Sister’s Sister.”

Mark Duplass in an on-screen close-up from “Your Sister’s Sister” opening June 15th, 2012!

The cabin is supposedly empty, but when Jack arrives he finds Iris’s sister Hannah there, beautifully played by Rosemarie DeWitt, who just happens to be a Lesbian trying to get over the break-up of a 7 year relationship.

Rosemarie DeWitt in an onscreen moment, making a facial expression that makes her look like Diane Keaton in early Woody Allen movies. Tell me if you agree!

They proceed to get really drunk and despite the fact that she has no interest in men, they wind up in bed together, with some really unpredictable consequences. I really loved this scene because I have been friends with some women of that proclivity and I could swear we had an attraction to each other, which I found both very freeing and kind of exciting.

Things get even more complicated when Iris shows up unexpectedly the next day, and is thrilled to see her sister, but wonders how she and Jack spent the evening. I won’t tell you any more, because it’s too good, and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.

Iris ( Emily Blunt) and Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) having a sisterly talk in bed in “Your Sister’s Sister!”

I understand a lot of the movie was improv’ed which is incredible because that is just so hard to do, but it tends to give you more of a real feel as opposed to someone who memorized all of their lines. It must be very draining especially during the confrontational scenes which are very powerful in this film.

The film brought out some very interesting points to me, one of the most important being that you can have a terrible, all-out battle with someone you love, and if you step away from it for a few days, it tends to resolve itself. Sometimes distance is necessary to allow yourself to think clearly and to allow your heart to heal a little bit.

This is a heart-warming, thoughtful film that definitely needs to be seen, so go out and see it! It opens on Friday June 15th. Don’t even wait till then, go figure out a way to see it tonight!

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Mark and Jay Duplass Score With "Jeff Who Lives At Home"

In 2002, Mark and Jay Duplass, writer/director brothers from New Orleans, were ready to pack it in. They hadn’t been having much success, until they decided to make one last try where Mark improvised a character having a breakdown while trying to record a message on an answering machine. This short film called ” This Is John” made it into Sundance, and got them representation, leading to two feature films.

(L-R) Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass, brother writer/directors at the press junket for Cyrus starring Jonah Hill, John C. Reilly, and Marisa Tomei!

Isn’t that the greatest story of synchronicity you ever heard? ( Well at least one of them??? LOL)

Just when you’re ready to give up, The Universe steps in and brings you the inspiration you need. They went on to make “The Puffy Chair” in 2005, followed by “Baghead” a horror/comedy which they made in 2008.

I met them at a press junket for their award winning film Cyrus which they made in 2010, with a fantastic cast, starring Jonah Hill, John C. Reilly, and Marisa Tomei, and got a really fun interview. Cyrus was the official selection at the SXSW Film Festival that year.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Academy Award winner Marisa Tomei!

A short time later, I ran into Mark and his beautiful actress wife Katie Aselton on the red carpet of the Comedy Central First Annual Comedy Awards, where Cyrus was up for four awards, Jonah Hill for Best Actor, Mark and Jay for Best Comedy Director, Best Comedy Film, and Best Writer.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV interviewing Mark Duplass and Katie Aselton on the red carpet of Comedy Central’s Comedy Awards!

Katie Aselton with husband Mark Duplass showing Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV how many awards Cyrus was up for!

During the interview which you can see below, they told me about their next film called “Jeff Who Lives At Home”, which I thought was going to be about me! At least Katie said it was! It also has a fantastic cast, starring Ed Helms, Susan Sarandon, Judy Greer, and Jason Segal, as the “Jeff” character, a 30 year old stoner who still lives at home with his Mom, and obsesses on the concept that our lives are controlled by fate. It’s a black comedy!

Mark assured me that even though it was wrapped and edited, he was still going to find a place for me in it! Maybe he meant in the audience! (LOL) You watch and see for yourselves!

Mark Duplass and Katie Aselton laughing assuring Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV that they would get him a part in “Jeff Who Lives At Home” despite the fact that the film was finished! (LOL)

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Reel Works 10th Anniversary with Steve Buscemi, John Leguizamo, Fisher Stevens, Reggie Watts, Hannibal Buress

Comedy Central invited me to cover a very special event where several of the celebs just happened to be friends of mine, but that doesn’t make it any easier. It’s still always tense and exciting wondering what will go down on the red carpet, knowing you have to keep it flowing and keep it funny and interesting!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Steve Buscemi star of HBO's hit Boardwalk Empire and co-host of Reel Works 10th Anniversary celebration!

Reel Works is a youth-oriented filmmaking initiative that provides high school students with the mentoring, training, and support to finish high school and then go on to college, and find job training careers in NYC’s film and television industry.

The event was at the Prince George Ballroom on East 27th Street, and I was there with my assistant and DP Tristan Griffin. Reel Works is the only youth filmmaking program that matches each student one-on-one with a professional filmmaker mentor. I wish they had something like that when I went to school!

The event was MC’ed by the hilarious Hannibal Buress who was voted one of Variety’s 10 Top Comics To Watch in Montreal last year, 2010, at the Just For Laughs Festival, which is the biggest comedy festival in the world. Hannibal has also written for NBC’s 30 Rock and SNL!

Reggie Watts and Hannibal Buress at the Reel Works 10th Anniversary Celebration!

The co-hosts were Steve Buscemi, star of HBO’s hit show Boardwalk Empire and his filmmaker wife Jo Andres!

Steve Buscemi and his wife and co-host Jo Andres, for the event honoring the 10th anniversary of Reel Works, a youth filmmaking initiative!

The honoree was Fisher Stevens who won an Academy Award for his film “The Cove”,and is currently directing John Leguizamo in his latest hit Broadway show, Ghetto Clown, which Fisher told me is about to begin a world tour! Fisher was being presented with the award by John Leguizamo, who for whatever reason was not available to do any press that night, which is unusual for John because he always makes himself available, and is ALWAYS very gracious with his time!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with John Leguizamo at a press event for his film "The Babysitters."

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Academy Award winner Fisher Stevens, the honoree at the Reel Works 10th anniversary celebration!

Plus there was a very special musical/comedy performance by an incredibly talented guy and another friend of mine, Reggie Watts, who is the opening act for Conan O’Brien’s ” The Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour” and winner of the Andy Kaufman Award. I had just seen Reggie in Montreal at THIS year’s Just For Laughs Festival where he performed in a show with Bo Burnham!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Reggie Watts who was performing at the Reel Works 10th Anniversary celebration honoring Fisher Stevens! ( He makes my hair look normal! Actually he makes me look totally bald! )

These are just some stills from the event. Wait till you see the videos coming soon!

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Bobby Cannavale in the New York Post

In today’s NY Post, Michael Riedel writes about Bobby Cannavale, who is as humble as he is talented. He was up for a Best Actor Tony Award for his role in the recent Broadway hit, ” The Motherf**ker With The Hat”, and according to Michael will most likely be in the upcoming Gershwin show ” Nice Work If You Can Get It”, in his first singing role on Broadway.

The Marquis on Broadway showing Bobby Cannavale as one of the stars of The Motherf**ker With The Hat!

He’s taking singing lessons and his girlfriend, Broadway’s Sutton Foster, currently in The Roundabout’s “Anything Goes”, will also be able to help him pull that off. Personally, I think Bobby can do anything he wants, because he has the drive and the power to back it up.

I saw him most recently backstage at “The Motherf**ker With The Hat”, and then again shortly afterwards at an event honoring Wallace Shawn where I was able to do a more in depth video interview with him.

(L-R) Annabella Sciorra, Chris Rock, Jeffrey Gurian, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Richie Tienken, Bobby Cannavale

The M-F’er With The Hat proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that a playwright can call his play anything he wants, and if an audience wants to see it, they will have to say that name. I’m sure more than one person felt awkward calling TicketMaster and asking for 2 seats to “The Motherf**ker With The Hat” because it’s hard to put symbols in when you’re speaking. You either say it or you don’t. At least it’s better than the original name which was supposed to be, ” The C**ksucker With The Coat.”

What if that trend catches on and some guy writes a play called ” My Hand On Your D**k”. How are girls going to be able to invite a guy to see that? What girl is gonna call up a guy and say, ” If you have some free time next week, would you like to see “My Hand On Your D**k”? He’d probably be like, ” Yeh, I’d love to see that. When can we make that happen???” if names like that catch on, it could mean the end of Broadway, because if ” Hand” takes off, some other guy is bound to write ” My Lips On Your C**k”, and then Broadway would be finished, not only because of the marquis, but how is a girl gonna call a guy and say, ” By any chance, have you seen “My Lips On Your C**k”? Maybe on the other hand it would turn out to be GOOD for business, because every guy would be like, ” No, but I’ve been wanting to see that for years! ” LOLOLOL

Here’s the Bobby Cannavale video interview! Feel free to leave a comment!

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Page 6 Review-LuAnn de Lesseps, Marisa Tomei, Frank Whaley, Nick Loeb

In a new feature on the Comedy Matters Vlog, I am reviewing items on Page 6, the most powerful gossip page in the country, specifically those pertaining to friends of mine, and people I know personally.

On Sat. May 21, 2011, the entire top of the page was about LuAnn de Lesseps, a close friend of mine since before she was a Countess.

Jeffrey Gurian with his dear friend LuAnn deLesseps, (AKA The Countess) at a party at La Pomme, for Real Housewives of New York City.

I know LuAnn from when she was a nurse.  She was beautiful then, and still is.  We ran around together and had some amazing and wild fun times!

LuAnn deLesseps interviewing Jeffrey Gurian back in '04 when he co-produced the Hamptons Comedy Festival!

When I co-produced the Hamptons Comedy Festival back in ’04, LuAnn was there to interview me for Plum TV, as one of their correspondents, and appears in the little doc. film made about me (below) as a promo real for a reality type TV show based on this column/Vlog.

LuAnn was ALWAYS very focussed on becoming successful in the entertainment industry, and had been hosting a TV show in Italy where she became fluent in Italian.  She’s also fluent in French which I’m sure helps her to communicate with her boyfriend Jacques Azoulay, whose English is perfect by the way.

Countess LuAnn and Jacques Azoulay at a Housewives party, shortly after they met!

He just has a nice accent!  But I can see them speaking French when they don’t want anyone else to understand what they’re saying.  I believe I first met him soon after he and LuAnn met.  She brought him to one of the premiere parties for the new season of Real Housewives of New York City, at a place called La Pomme, where I had the pleasure of meeting her Mom.

Countess LuAnn and her elegant Mom at a party for Housewives at La Pomme.

(L-R) Most of the cast of Real Housewives of NYC including Jill Zarin, LuAnn DeLesseps, Kelly Bensimon, Ramona Singer, and Sonja Morgan. Bethenny, and a couple of others didn't show up, and unfortunately I don't have time to find the first woman's name! (LOL)

This particular Page 6 item was about LuAnn’s daughter Victoria leaving the Ross School in The Hamptons, ostensibly after Housewife Ramona Singer,(who I find it hard to watch), went and posted a link to the You Tube video of Victoria engaging in some unseemly behavior.   What a nice thing for Ramona to have done!  Not exactly a surprise considering the venom these women have the ability to express!

She did however apologize which makes all the difference in the world, right???  If you accidentally stab someone and then apologize afterwards, it makes the wound heal up right away doesn’t it???

As a side note, LuAnn’s press rep says that Victoria leaving The Ross School, had nothing to do with the video clip, and that Victoria is looking forward to studying art in Paris this summer!  If she turns out like her Mom she’ll be just fine!

Both Marisa Tomei and Frank Whaley are mentioned in this Page 6, and were at the after-party for Knickerbocker, a play at The Public Theatre, directed by another old friend Pippin Parker, brother of none other than Sarah Jessica.

Jeffrey Gurian with Marisa Tomei at a press junket for her film "Before The Devil Knows You're Dead!"

Jeffrey Gurian interviewing Frank Whaley at a New Group event at Capitale honoring Wallace Shawn!

The party was held at the Knickerbocker Bar and Grill which according to Page 6, Chris Noth calls “downtown’s answer to Elaine’s.”

Pippin and Toby are the two Parker siblings I know best from my early days at Naked Angels, when I used to go down there with actor Federico Castelluccio and director Billy Goins, who at the time had been engaged to Claudia Schiffer.

Jeffrey Gurian and Toby Parker at a show after Toby's performance!

Jeffrey Gurian with Federico Castelluccio at an event at The Cutting Room!

I was one of the writers whose stuff got read by Naked Angels members at their weekly Tuesdays at Nine events where writers would bring in new works and ask resident actors to do a cold reading for the rest of the audience.

In those days it was run by a guy named Craig Carlisle, a great guy who I think may be in LA these days.  It was where I first met Ethan Hawke, when he came over and introduced himself to me after hearing the early version of a play I wrote called ” A Punch In The Face”, which he told me he liked and encouraged me to finish.

I did years later and wound up dedicating it to actor Chuck Zito after he punched out Jean Claude Van Damme at Scores one night and broke his knuckle on Van Damme’s head, a story told to me by Chuck himself! And if you look at the photo below and see the size of Chuck’s fist, you can only imagine what Van Damme’s head felt like when it got hit with it!

Jeffrey Gurian at the receiving end of Chuck Zito's massive fist at the premiere of a play written by Jeffrey in his honor called " A Punch In The Face", something at which Chuck is an expert!

I had first met Chuck through another old friend Charlie Sheen, when Charlie was in his prime.  He’s an amazing, brilliant guy and will be the subject of a separate post another day!

Marisa Tomei and Frank Whaley are currently starring on Broadway together in Wallace Shawn’s “Marie and Bruce”, which you’ll soon read about in a post I’m working on about the very recent New Group tribute to Wallace Shawn, which I attended and did interviews for on the red carpet.

The poster for Wallace Shawn's play "Marie and Bruce" starring Marisa Tomei and Frank Whaley at the Acorn Theatre on Theatre Row!

Last on Page 6 that day was Nick Loeb, recent Senate hopeful from Florida, and a good friend of mine and reader of Comedy Matters.  Nick is one of those guys where when you see him, even if you don’t know what he does, you know it’s something special.

Nick’s Dad is John L. Loeb former Ambassador to Denmark from 1981-1983, who was knighted by Queen Margrethe of Denmark after he left his post, and was also a Delegate to The United Nations. The Loeb family is one of the oldest, and most successful Jewish families dating back to Colonial times, and are also related to the Lehman family.

Nick is a film producer, though his company IPC ( International Production Company), and has worked with Exec. Producers like Quincy Jones and Barbara Streisand.

Jeffrey Gurian with the amazing Nick Loeb who was running for the Florida Senate at the time!

Nick was a candidate for the Florida State Senate, a possible Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate as the Republican Senator from Florida, but most important, he currently holds the position of being the boyfriend of Modern Family’s gorgeous, and funny Sofia Vergara! (LOL)  All the other stuff is certainly possible, but how does one accomplish that??? (LOLOL)

I was proud to support Nick in his run for Florida’s Senate, and the fundraiser was held in Manhattan at his father’s townhouse.  His father happened to be out of town that evening, and I asked Nick jokingly whether his father even knew he was using his home or did he just sneak the keys while his Dad wasn’t looking!

( I love to ask questions like that of powerful people!  Can you imagine what it must be like to grow up as an Ambassador’s son, with a family lineage like that?  Like when I asked Don Trump Jr. if his Dad would think it was funny if I tipped him a dollar for having me at one of his events.  Just fold a dollar into his palm when I was shaking hands with him.  Don suggested that I don’t do that, and I was glad I took his advice! LOL )  Personally I think Donald would have laughed, but you never know.

Jeffrey Gurian, at a Donald Trump event, surrounded by the gorgeous couple of Don and Vanessa Trump!

Nick is the consummate gentleman, and a guy with a great sense of humor. His taste in women is also excellent, and I’d love to see him hold a high office one of these days.  I think he’d make a great contribution to the country.  Plus then we could all get to meet Sofia Vergara! (LOLOLOL)

 

 

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Jeffrey Gurian Documentary Reel with A-List Comics and Film Stars

This documentary reel about me was shot as a pre-cursor to a proposed TV project that I would host, taking the viewers “behind the scenes” in the comedy world, the film world and behind the velvet ropes of New York nightlife, all places where I have strong connections.

In this reel you will see great comics from late night TV like Ted Alexandro from Comedy Central, Letterman, Conan O’Brien, & Jimmy Kimmel, Jon Fisch from Last Comic Standing, VH1 and Comedy Central, Macio from The Chapelle Show, Uptown Comedy Club, & Comedy Central, Goumba Johnny, afternoon host  from WKTU, 103.5 FM, film stars Marisa Tomei, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Jason Statham, John Leguizamo, Vincent Pastore, Chris Meloni, Kal Penn, Sidney Lumet, Guy Ritchie, nightlife and TV legends Wass, Noel Ashman, and Countess LuAnn DeLesseps from Real Housewives of New York City, and Camille Grammer from Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

Please watch and feel free to leave a comment, and/or share it with your friends.  Thanks!!!

Posted in: Celeb Photos, Comedians In The News, Comedy Events, Comedy Matters, Comedy Videos, Nightlife Events, Press Junkets, Red Carpet Events

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