Posts Tagged The Sopranos

Lisa Lampanelli Takes Divorce To Higher Levels!

The Friars Club held a major event last night to rename the famed monastery in honor of comedy icon Jerry Lewis.

Jerry Lewis laughing at one of the many jokes that were told during the ribbon cutting ceremony naming the Friars Club after himself!

Jerry Lewis laughing at one of the many jokes that were told during the ribbon cutting ceremony naming the Friars Club monastery building after himself!

Fifty-fifth street in Manhattan , which is known as Friars Way, was blocked off for a champagne celebration renaming the historic building.  It was packed with celebs and media names that came out to honor Jerry, and they even created a special star for him to be placed as the first star in a “Walk of Fame” like they have in Hollywood.

JerryLewisStar_9_15_14

 

Then they gave Jerry a huge pair of red scissors for a ribbon cutting ceremony!

 

Jerry Lewis brandishing the big red scissors he used to cut the red ribbon naming the Friars monastery after him!

Jerry Lewis brandishing the big red scissors he used to cut the red ribbon naming the Friars monastery after him!

Some of the attendees were Vincent Pastore, from The Sopranos, Steven ( Little Steven) Van Zandt from The Sopranos, and Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band, Marvin Scott, ex-Mayor David Dinkins, Gilbert Gottfried, Pat Cooper, Bill Boggs, Rick Newman and his wife Chrissy, Tamsen Fadal, Joe Franklin, Jackie Martling, Dominic Chianese, Richard Johnson from the NY Post, and many more.

Vinny Pastore and Stevie Van Zandt sitting around at The Friars Club for Jerry Lewis!

Vinny Pastore and Stevie Van Zandt sitting around chatting at The Friars Club event for Jerry Lewis!

I had the honor of escorting my good friend, and comedy superstar Lisa Lampanelli, who I’ve been friends with for many years.  Lisa and Al Roker dressed up as construction workers to present Jerry with his star for the Walk of Fame!

Al Roker still dressed as a construction worker when he and Lisa Lampanelli presented Jerry with his "Star" for the Walk of Fame!

Al Roker still dressed as a construction worker when he and Lisa Lampanelli presented Jerry with his “Star” for the Walk of Fame!

Lisa was my recent guest on Sirius XM with Ron and Fez where I am a regular, and honored me by coming on despite the fact that she was not doing any other press.  She is still recovering from the loss of her dear father just a few months ago, and she made a decision to not allow any negativity into her life.

The new and improved Miss Lisa Lampanelli!

The new and improved Miss Lisa Lampanelli!

She only wants to do positive things which eliminates a lot of other radio shows that can tend to be mean-spirited.  Although she is known as “The Lovable Queen of Mean” I know another side of her, and that’s the side that came out on the Sirius XM show that we did.  We talked about positivity, and certain Spiritual principles that are important to incorporate into your way of life in order to achieve Happiness, which I capitalize for a reason!

To me Lisa embodies empowerment.  She has created more change in her life in the last year than most people do in a lifetime, and that takes a lot of courage.  She underwent weight loss surgery and lost 107 pounds, cut off her hair into what at first was a Mohawk, and is now just a very hip short look, that had purple streaks for a few minutes, and she made the loving, but difficult choice to leave a marriage that wasn’t working for her, but to her credit she did it on a very high level.  She and her husband Jimmy Cannizzaro, one of the nicest guys you can find, are parting on good terms.

As a matter of fact they are on such good terms that Lisa gave her blessing to his new relationship with singer Jenna Esposito.  

Jimmy Cannizzaro, Lisa Lampanelli with Jimmy's new girlfriend Jenna Esposito! One big happy family!

Jimmy Cannizzaro, and Lisa Lampanelli with Jimmy’s new girlfriend Jenna Esposito! One big happy family!

She told me personally and on the radio that if Jimmy and Jenna have kids she wants to be like the favorite aunt who spoils them.  That is a beautiful thing.  I went to Lisa’s home in Connecticut just a couple of weeks ago for a Labor Day barbecue, in the home she shared with Jimmy, and it’s a happy, joyous place on the water.  Very peaceful and filled with things that make Lisa happy to see, like her father’s art work.  He was an accomplished painter whose works fill her beautiful home.

So Lisa was expecting Jimmy and Jenna at the Jerry Lewis event and we all planned to meet up.  As I was walking into the monastery, I felt a tap on my shoulder , and heard someone saying ” Hey Jeffrey”, and it was Richard Johnson who for so many years ruled the gossip world as the king of Page 6, and now has returned with his own column, ” Richard Johnson- The Man Who Knows New York”, which should have had the tag, “Like No One Else!” LOL

Jeffrey Gurian with Richard Johnson ex-Mr. Page 6 who now writes "Richard Johnson- The Man Who KNows New York!"  An understatement if I ever heard one!

Jeffrey Gurian with Richard Johnson ex-Mr. Page 6 who now writes “Richard Johnson- The Man Who Knows New York!” An understatement if I ever heard one!

We exchanged pleasantries as they say, and I pointed out Lisa, Jimmy and Jenna standing outside talking.  He didn’t even recognize Lisa but I said to him, “there’s your story for the day! That’s Lisa, her ex and his girlfriend.”  So later during the evening I got to take these cool photos showing how well they all get along.

A dramatic example of how most wives usually handle a situation when they run into their ex with another woman!

A dramatic example of how most wives usually handle a situation when they run into their ex with another woman!

Even I got to join in the love fest! (LOL)

Even I got to join in the love fest! (LOL)

The other photos below are of some of the other fun guests.  And Vinny Pastore told me he wrote a new play about when he owned a bar in New Rochelle back in the 80’s and Steve Van Zandt’s wife Maureen is directing it, and he’s really excited about that.  It was another great night at The Friars Club!

 

With Vinny Pastore who told me he's excited about his new play!

With Vinny Pastore who told me he’s excited about his new play!

Jeffrey Gurian with Tamsen Fadal, the anchor from WPIX 11, and purple is his favorite color! LOL

Jeffrey Gurian with Tamsen Fadal, the anchor from WPIX 11, and purple is his favorite color!  At least it is now! LOL

And I thought I would end this column with a photo of Jerry and I from 1986 when I worked with him alone for two nights in his hotel room to prepare for his Friars Club Roast!

Jeffrey Gurian with Jerry Lewis at the Jerry Lewis Roast in 1986!

Jeffrey Gurian with Jerry Lewis at the Jerry Lewis Roast in 1986!

 

 

 

 

 

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Nancy Savoca Scores With Union Square

Nancy Savoca’s new indie feature “Union Square” starring Mira Sorvino, Tammy Blanchard, and Michael Rispoli, is a great example of the beauty and freedom of independent film.

The poster for Nancy Savoca’s film “Union Square, starring Mira Sorvino and Tammy Blanchard!

As a writer and more specifically a comedy writer,I know the feeling of having someone who thinks they have an incredible sense of humor try and change what you wrote. More often than not, their sense of humor is easily surpassed by their sense of smell!(LOL)

With independent film you don’t have to worry about a studio handing over your script to someone who doesn’t get it! With independent film YOU’RE in charge!

It’s a natural extension for a writer to want to direct, since the writer has the vision in the first place, and sees the movie in his/her mind. In the case of this film, it’s birth came about in a coffee shop, with Nancy, producer Neda Armian, and co-writer Mary Tobler commiserating on how hard it is to get an independent film made.

A smiling Nancy Savoca at the press junket for her new film ” Union Square!”

Neda offered her apartment, which is just one room, made to look like two, and said, ” Let’s just shoot something! Anything!” and they all agreed. Nancy said that Mary was “fearless” and over a summer they hashed out the script. They even believed in it enough to put up the initial financing. Once you’ve got the money, it’s a go! That’s the one ingredient that keeps everyone from making a film! (LOL)

They chose locations they could walk to from Neda’s apartment which was one block from Union Square. They purposely wanted a small cast, maybe two principal characters and two or three supporting characters.

You’ll see in the attached video how excited Nancy was to get the cast she wanted. Casting is always key, and when you get the stars you want, especially on an indie budget, you know they’re doing it because they believe in the project, and not for the money!

The film was also shot using less equipment than many student films. They had a very small crew, almost no lighting equipment and shot on a Canon 5D, which is a still camera, capable of shooting high def video.

Again, the beauty of independent film does away with the necessity of using crews of 50 or 60 people, and trailers, and truckloads of equipment. Most of the time they didn’t even use a tripod!

Nancy Savoca and Mira Sorvino at the press conference at The Regency Hotel for “Union Square”!

Mira plays Lucy, a free-wheeling, sexy, but confused girl on the verge of a nervous breakdown over a relationship with a married man, gone wrong before our very eyes. She virtually has a meltdown in Union Square Park, in front of innocent passersby, some of whom had no idea she was shooting a film, which is another funny story you’ll see Mira describe in the video below.

Director Nancy Savoca with Tammy (Jenny) Blanchard at the press conference for “Union Square!”

With her life seemingly in shambles, on a whim she decides to drop in unannounced on her estranged sister Jenny, (Tammy Blanchard) who she hasn’t seen or spoken to in three years. On the surface they couldn’t be more dissimilar.

Mira, as I told her in the video, totally nailed her inner “Bronx-girl”. The accent was perfect as was her style of dress. She dressed really sexy, and with all due respect, she has the body to pull it off too! (Even Tammy said that, … but a lot more graphically! LOL)

Tammy as Jenny, on the other hand played a woman who had seemingly gotten away from her “Bronx past”, and was leading a quiet sedate life with her fiance Bill, played by actor Mike Doyle. In real life, Tammy is a beautiful, stylish woman. In the film she plays kind of a frumpy part, to the point where she said she didn’t even want to look at herself in the mirror!

Writer/Director Nancy Savoca with a very stylish, “un-frumpy” Tammy Blanchard, one of the stars of her new film “Union Square!”

Lucy announces that she would like to stay with Jenny for at least a couple of days, and begins to wreak havoc in Jenny’s life and with her relationship. Lucy drags Jenny out to a club, where Mira’s character Lucy, gets to dirty dance with a guy who turns out to be her own real-life husband, Chris Backus, with whom she just had her fourth child about a month ago. You’d never know it because she’s in such great shape!

Lucy and Jenny’s mom in the film is played by Patti LuPone, and it’s a great, and funny part, and actor Michael Rispoli also plays a wonderful part, as a very stable down-to-earth guy, which he’s so good at. Michael is an old friend, who’s been in so many films, like “Kick-Ass”, “Invincible” with Mark Wahlberg, Spike Lee’s “The Summer of Sam”, and of course he was mob boss Jackie Aprile on HBO’s hit show “The Sopranos.”

He played the lead in the film “Two Family Home” which won the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award back in 2000, which is when we took the photo that appears below. It was a party for “Two Family Home” and many of the Sopranos’ cast were there like Aida Turturro, Michael Imperioli, and Drea De Matteo. I was so happy to see him in Union Square.

What will make this film even more popular, is the fact that so many people will relate to the theme of estranged siblings. Unfortunately, it’s all too common.

I was most happy to meet Mira as I’ve admired her talent for years, ever since “Mighty Aphrodite” with Woody Allen in 1996. I actually wrote a film with her in mind for the lead, about a tough biker chick who falls for a stand-up comic. A very unlikely couple to say the least!

So I was so happy to be able to meet her and interview her in person. It was also special for me because I know her Dad, Paul Sorvino for a very long time as evidenced by the photo below taken at Columbus Cafe back around 1991.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Paul Sorvino at Columbus Cafe, circa 1991!

Mira and I had a good laugh about how her Dad bursts out into song at a moment’s notice,(or sometimes without any notice at all! LOL), very often while you’re seated with him in a restaurant.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, philanthropist Karen Koeningsberg, and Paul Sorvino at a party for Karen’s birthday at The Standard Hotel! Paul graced us all with a song, and his magnificent voice!

She says he’s been doing that all her life, and Paul has a beautiful, operatic voice, which you can easily hear from several blocks away. She says such nice things about her Dad, which you’ll also hear in the video I keep talking about. I think it’s time for you to watch it, right here.

And after you watch this, run out to the theatre on July 13th and watch Union Square. You won’t be sorry!

Nancy’s work is also an inspiration to all filmmakers. If you have something in you that needs to be said in film, just go out and do it! These days if you want to get it done, there’s always a way!

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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!

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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

 

 

 

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Chris Rock Rocks in The Motherf**ker With The Hat

Chris Rock made his Broadway debut in a hard-hitting and fantastic new show with one of the strangest names ever to hit Broadway, The Motherf**ker With The Hat.

The Schoenfeld Theatre Marquee for The Motherf**ker With The Hat starring Bobby Cannavale, Chris Rock, and Annabella Sciorra

What’s particularly funny to me as a comedy writer and something I’ve thought about since The Vagina Monologues came out, is that as a writer you can call your work anything you want, and people HAVE to say it if they want to either buy it or see it.

They could just have easily called this play The C**ksucker With The Beard, and nice, regular people would have to call up and say, ” I’d like two tickets for “The C**cksucker With The Beard”, and no one could say anything about it cause that’s the name of the play.

Before The Vagina Monologues, no one used the word “vagina” in regular conversation.  It felt too weird.  As a matter of fact, when I saw it, the next day my mother asked me what play I saw the night before, and I felt so uncomfortable I told her I didn’t remember.  She said ” How can’t you remember?  You just saw it last night!”

And that’s when I realized I would rather my mother thought I had brain damage than that I knew the word “vagina.”

Anyway, this play was superb.  it’s only in previews so by the time it opens officially it will supposedly be even better although I don’t see how that can happen.  Now I’m not a critic, so I look at a performance as to whether I enjoyed it or not.

I don’t notice things that critics tend to notice.  When I use a camera, I leave it on “Auto”.  If I can see the picture I think it’s a good camera.  When people rave about audio systems, it means nothing to me.  If I turn on my CD player, and I can hear the song, and it sounds good to me, that’s all I need to know.

I don’t know about the bass, the treble, and all that other stuff.  All I need to know is that I can hear the song clearly enough to tell it from another song,and I’m good to go!

Annabella Sciorra, Chris Rock, Elizabeth Rodriguez, and Bobby Cannavale in Chris Rock's dressing room after the show.

That being said, this cast is superb.  Every one of them is a shining star.  Chris Rock plays a guy named Ralph who’s the A.A. sponsor of a career criminal named Jackie, fresh out of jail, and trying to stay sober and do the right thing, played by the incredible Bobby Cannavale.

Even if you knew Bobby Cannavale personally, ( which I did), you would NEVER recognize him in this role. He actually changed physically, and looks like a completely different person. I’ve met him a few times over the years, and even looking at his photo I have to struggle to see that it’s him.

He used his talent to morph into a Puerto Rican or Dominican drug addict from The Bronx, who walks, talks, looks and sounds the part.

It’s not even acting.  He BECOMES that person.  He reminds me of my friend Cipha Sounds, the highly successful and talented non-drug addict radio DJ who does the morning show on Hot 97, Cipha Sounds and Rosenberg, and who IS a Puerto Rican from The Bronx.

Over the years, I had met Bobby several times through my friends Ethan Hawke and Peter Dinklage, with whom he starred in the Academy Award nominated picture “The Station Agent”, but I think he must have worked out hard physically for this part as well as having learned the script.

His body is “cut”, but even his face is cut.  And he mastered the facial expressions, and even the hand motions of the kind of guy he’s playing.  In the photos we took after the show, he’s throwing some kind of street hand signs, … but doing it right! Bobby’s Dad is Italian and his Mom is Cuban, so he probably gets a great tan during the summer!

Chris Rock acts like he’s been on a Broadway stage all his life.  It’s his first show but he’s been on stages all over the world, so it didn’t intimidate him at all.

I went to the show with Richie Tienken, the owner and co-founder of the legendary comedy club The Comic Strip.  Richie discovered Eddie Murphy and went on to manage him for 11 years and in 1986 they jointly discovered Chris Rock, so Chris is always happy to see Richie.

Watch the little interview I did with Chris backstage after the show.  Richie is in it as is Chris’ friend, hilarious comic Ardie Fuqua, who happened to sit right near us in the audience.

On the way up the 6 flights of stairs to Chris’ dressing room, ( and I’m not kidding about that!) we ran into the rest of the cast and brought them with us to take the photos you’re seeing here.

Annabella Sciorra has been a favorite of mine since The Sopranos.  She’s so talented and plays the long suffering wife of Ralph, Chris Rock’s character, in this, her Broadway debut as well.

She was running home to take care of her kids but was kind enough to come upstairs for a group photo for Comedy Matters, and that’s why she was wearing her hat and coat!

(L-R) Frt. -Annabella Sciorra, Jeffrey Gurian,Richie Tienken,(Back) Chris Rock, Elizabeth Rodriguez, and Bobby Cannavale in Chris' dressing room after the show.

Chris plays a guy so cold he actually tells a guy in detail how he’s been with his girlfriend and when I say in detail, I mean “IN DETAIL”!  It was COLD, bro’!

I meant to ask Chris what that was like, even doing that on stage, cause most people could never do something like that in real life, but I didn’t get a chance to.  I plan on seeing the show again, so maybe I’ll get to ask him that next time.

So much of acting is learning to detach from self-consciousnessm so you can be free to do what you have to onstage.

Another actor making his Broadway debut, who wasn’t with us backstage is Yul Vazquez, a very talented actor who played such an unusual character called ” Cousin Julio”. He plays kind of like a gay Jean-Claude Van Damme character who is very ready to “throw down” at any moment, to stand up for his cousin Jackie, played by Cannavale.

Yul is the co-artistic director and founding member of the LAByrinth Theater Company of which Cannavale, Elizabeth Rodriguez, who plays Victoria, Jackie’s girlfriend, and writer Stephen Adly Guirgis are all members.

Gurguis who is a brilliant writer is the other co-artistic director of the LAByrinth Theater Company.

I saved Elizabeth Rodriguez for last, because I wanted to give myself enough room to praise her. (LOL) She’s done lots of theatre and television, with recurring roles on NY Undercover, The Shield, and All My Children, besides numerous roles on other shows.  She’s also been in films like “Miami Vice”, “Jack Goes Boating”, and “Acts of Worship”.

Even more amazing to me, a day or two after I met her I found out she’s the next door neighbor of my dear friend Mary Elizabeth, who just happened to call and excitedly ask me if I heard about this play, telling me her friend and neighbor Elizabeth is in it.  I’m like ” Elizabeth Rodriguez?”  That can’t even happen!

The way Bobby Cannavale captured the essence of his character is the way Elizabeth captured the essence of hers.  I fully expected her to talk that way when I met her after the show, because it seemed to real to be a performance.

Obviously, while growing up,  she met many girls like the one she portrayed, and so have we all, but it’s one thing to meet them, and another thing to be able to bring them to life on the stage.   This girl is AMAZING, and sexy in a very subtle way.  She makes it very easy to fall for her character, who is tough as nails on the surface, but really just wants to be loved like everyone else. I plan to do a separate interview with Elizabeth in an upcoming posting, so stay tuned!

All in all this is a play not to be missed!

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