Posts Tagged Neighborhood Playhouse

Frank Vincent from The Sopranos Honored at Soho International Film Fest

Goodfellas came out in 1990.  That was 21 years ago, and I don’t think anyone who ever saw the film will ever forget actor Frank Vincent’s line as Billy Batts to Joe Pesci’s character Tommy DeVito, ” Go home and get your shinebox.” Just hearing that line, and knowing Tommy’s hair trigger temper sends chills through most people.  Billy Batt’s paid for that line with his life.

Jeffrey Gurian with Frank Vincent at the Soho International Film Festival event in Frank's honor!

As Phil Leotardo in The Sopranos, Frank got whacked in the last episode, standing in a gas station kissing his grandchildren goodbye, and fell under the wheel of his daughter’s car, which rolled over his head.  Another Frank Vincent scene indelibly etched in the minds of whoever saw it.

Jeffrey Gurian with Frank Vincent at the Gen Art Film Festival back in 2006!

Frank Vincent’s presence on the big screen is so powerful that of all the guys who play gangsters, to me he stands out as one of the scariest. ( A definite compliment! )  So to find out that he started out as a comic was both startling and thrilling to me.  He actually did stand-up with Joe Pesci.  Pesci killed him in Goodfellas and he returned the kindness, and killed Joe Pesci in Casino.

Jeffrey Gurian with director John Gallagher, who's also on the Advisory Board of the Soho International Film Festival, and who produced the event in honor of Frank Vincent!

Frank was honored by the Soho International Film festival in a fantastic evening produced by award-winning film director John Gallagher, who will be working with Frank in an upcoming film called Fickle, written by Ryan O’Callaghan who was there to walk the red carpet with John and Frank.

All of Frank’s friends came out to support him including some of his Sopranos cast members.  There was John “Cha Cha” Ciarcia, sometimes known as “The Mayor Of Little Italy”, who played Albie Cianflone, (and who couldn’t believe I remembered the name of his character), Tony (Paulie Walnuts) Sirico, and TV and film actress Sharon Angela, who memorably played Rosalie Aprile, on the hit HBO show, where during the 6th season she was elevated from a guest star to a series regular.

Jeffrey Gurian with John "Cha Cha" Ciarcia at the Friars Roast for Jerry Lewis in 2006!

Jeffrey Gurian and Tony Sirico in James Edstrom's column that was also on Page 6 of the NY Post where Tony (Paulie Walnuts) Sirico showed Jeffrey how real men take photos together, … with a fist through the other guy's arm!

Jeffrey Gurian with Sharon Angela at the Soho International Film Festival where she starred in Michael Imperioli's film "The Hungry Ghosts."

There were also lots of beautiful women there from all over the world, in the film business and not.  I met two from The Philippines, Ida and Lisa, who were there to honor Frank and also had their own film in the festival.

(L-R) Lisa and Ida who came all the way from The Philippines for the Soho Film Festival!

And just to play it safe, I brought my own beautiful woman, (LOL) Lauren Francesca, the internet sensation known for playing Lady Gaga in The Key of Awesome films, ( www.thekeyofawesome.com) and who starred in two short films I created for her, “Besame Mucho’s Academy of Oral Skills”

Jeffrey Gurian and Lauren Francesca on the red carpet of the Soho International Film Festival!

and “The Magic Of Transforminol” about a magic pill that guys can take called “Transforminol” that makes their girlfriends look like Lauren.

 
The thing about Frank Vincent is that he’s nothing like what he looks like which makes his performance even more powerful.  In his own words, he’s a nice guy, and he is.  But he told a story that was so chilling it affected everyone in the audience.

He was saying how many people think they’re really gangsters when they’re really just Italian-American actors, but one night he walked into a restaurant and there was a real mob boss there who called him over to his table to say hello.

Frank’s group was then seated near this mob boss close enough for Frank to hear him mention something about Hollywood, which caused Frank to toss out a remark.  With that the mob boss called him over to the table and in front of everyone there told Frank he had a lot of nerve barging in on his conversation, and as Frank phrased it, “He’d leave him standing right where he was, if he ever did that again.”  Frank’s point in that story was well taken.

Frank is a good actor which is why he knows how to act like a gangster.  A good actor has feelings.  Real gangsters don’t.

John Gallagher is on the advisory board of the Soho International Film Festival and works directly with Sibyl Santiago, the director of the festival, who was incredibly helpful to me in getting this story done.  She made sure that I got to speak to everyone I wanted to see.

Aside from directing John also teaches acting, and among other places taught for five years at the prestigious Neighborhood Playhouse on East 54th Street in Manhattan, the school where Sanford Meisner taught for more than 50 years.  I even took the summer program there one year because as a director, I thought it behooved me to understand the acting process as much as possible.  It was a fantastic experience.

I’m hoping that John will be directing a film that I wrote that he fell in love with called “Men of Violence.”  It’s a gangster/martial arts/action film with lots of comedy.

The comedy is real, as is the violence, in the style of Pulp Fiction.  It’s about a plastic surgeon who is obsessed with violence.  He studies martial arts and carries a gun.  When he accidentally kills a mob boss’ son protecting his wife during a mob hit in a restaurant, he has to become the baddest man on the planet in order to save his own life and the lives of his family.

All we have to do now is raise the money!  ( Maybe Kickstarter?)  The cast we don’t have to worry about.  Between John and myself we know every gangster/actor in the business!

Check out Jeffrey on the red carpet for Frank Vincent!

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

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Michael Imperioli Presents His Film "The Hungry Ghosts" at the Soho International Film Festival

When director John Gallagher ( Blue Moon, The Deli) called me and told me he was on the advisory Board of the Soho International Film Festival and that Michael Imperioli would be showing a new film that he wrote and directed called ” The Hungry Ghosts”, I was like, ” Count me in.”  Any time I get a chance to see a Michael Imperioli project I jump at it.

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Jeffrey Gurian and director John Gallagher on the red carpet at the Soho International Film Festival where John produced an event honoring Frank Vincent and did a Q&A with Michael Imperioli for his film "The Hungry Ghosts."

Michael Imperioli is a great, great talent and one of the most humble guys in the business.  The testament to his talent is how unlike he is to the character he might be best known for, Christopher Moltisanti, Tony Soprano’s nephew in The Sopranos.

Jeffrey Gurian with Michael Imperioli back in his Sopranos days at a fundraising event!

I was an ardent Soprano fan, and knowing Michael for quite a while, and always seeing him as a quiet, gentle, introspective kind of person, I was shocked to see how easily he came to playing such a violent character.  That’s when I realized what it means to be a talented actor.  When you can leave your own personna and actually become the person in the script.

Steve Schirripa, Jeffrey Gurian, and Tony Sirico at a fundraising event at Marquee in NYC!

The Hungry Ghosts is a fascinating film, written and directed by Michael, in his directorial debut, and he was joined in the script by four of his Sopranos castmates, Steve Schirripa, who stars as Frank, John Ventimiglia, Vince Curatola, and Sharon Angela.

Jeffrey Gurian and John Ventimiglia at an event at Studio Dante, Michael's old acting school and theatre.

Vince ( Johnny Sack) Curatola on set with Jeffrey Gurian, playing a doctor in an award-winning short film Jeffrey wrote called "I Am Woody", about a mob boss obsessed with Woody Allen!

Sharon Angela and Jeffrey Gurian on the red carpet after the showing of Sharon's film "The Hungry Ghosts" directed by Michael Imperioli, in the Soho International Film Festival!

Steve Schirripa is absolutely fantastic as Frank,  a drunk, and drug addict whose life is spiraling out of control, and who can’t seem to be there for the son he loves, and who’s suffering because Frank can’t open up to him.

Other stand-outs in the cast are Nick Sandow and the beautiful, and talented Aunjanue Ellis who I had met previously through director Bill Duke from his movie Cover.

Sharon Angela and Nick Sandow during the Q&A after the film at the Quad Cinema!

Aunjanue Ellis during the Q & A for the movie Cover, directed by Bill Duke!

Aunjanue plays a great role in this film, and somehow Michael managed to take four characters, four diverse stories and magically weave them into one story where the characters actually meet in a scene at the end.  Very difficult to do, and very well done!

Michael was surprised to see me during the Q&A and I caught up with him afterwards to congratulate him on the film, and to shoot a little personal video with him, which he was kind enough to do.  Check it out here!

The movie can be seen on Hulu in it’s entirety at  http://www.hulu.com/watch/225008/the-hungry-ghosts

 

 

 

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

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