Friday, November 8, 2013

Pitching Center City



In the long history of the development of Center City there existed idea of pitching it to ABC and SoapNet with Frank Valentini as the Executive Producer. Agnes Nixon's creations, All My Children and One Life to Live were based in a fictional suburban Philadelphia where the inhabitants were often going to Center City, which is what Philadelphians call their downtown area.

The critical success of General Hospital's Nightshift was the inspiration for the idea. In an earlier incarnation Center City was called Between Two Rivers. We decided to draw on the history of the wonderful characters in Pine Valley and Llanview and have them crossover to interact with the Fontana-De Marcos and other core families who live in a fictional Philadelphia.

It's unfortunate that it looks like Agnes Nixon's "stories" will be no more even in their Prospect Park forms. SoapNet, too, will be going away permanently at the end of December. We believe there is a strong, solid market for storytelling with a long story arc. While Center City is not precisely a Soap Opera in the sense of Daytime TV's "stories" it is a serial drama with a long story arc and rich back story. We're convinced there is a place for it and we continue to pitch it where we think appropriate and continue to look for "names" to attach to it. The biggest hurdles seem to be to get the right people to look at the solid pilot script and the unique story behind it.

It could also be something of a mini-series in the vein of NBC's Dracula, i.e. a series extending for ten episodes or so. The Bible is complete in the sense that we know exactly where this story is going.

The center of the action is an Italian restaurant in Rittenhouse Square. A divorced Sicilian American mother of two grown sons struggles with the disappearance of her fraternal twin and co-owner of the restaurant she now runs to keep the family legacy alive.There is a diverse cast of characters depicting the tapestry of the Philadelphia ethnic landscape. In addition to the Italian matriarch, Anna--we had fond hopes to get Annabella Sciorra involved--there is a strong Black matriarch in the person of Marlena Festa.

Our stage readings have been memorable. General Hospital's Lisa LoCicero brought Anna to life at West Hollywood's Celebration Theatre last Spring.

Our hope is to bring a "name" into the fold, especially in the characters of Anna, Marlena, Nick and Gaetano. We have some exceptional talent attached to some of the other roles. Actors love it: "I just finished Center City and I’m really impressed. Your dialogue is real and witty and often moving– it rolls off an actor's tongue. On a personal level, its so refreshing to a read an authentic story about a piece of my beloved hometown … you have juicy, interesting, three dimensional characters living in a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story with me." ~ actor/playwright Mark Borkowski (Boardwalk Empire) Contact: papag at center-city.net

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Philadelphia Table Read Redux (17 February 2013) Philadelphia Gay News

Gay, South Philly Life in Spotlight by Gary M. Kramer (Photos: Scott Drake)
South Philly native Giovanni Vitacolonna is on the path to realizing his dream of creating TV series “Center City” — about an Italian family in Philadelphia. The project, which began as a satire of both gay life and life in South Philly as a serial for now-defunct Au Courant, concerns Anna Fontana, owner of Gaetano’s, an Italian Market restaurant that has moved to Rittenhouse Square. Her two sons are Domenic, who works in the restaurant, and Marc, a friar-priest who left the priesthood and now works alongside his brother.
Eight episodes are written, and last weekend, Vitacolonna staged a reading of the pilot episode of his script at the Republican Club in Port Richmond. Richie Nuzzolese read Domenic, David Moretti performed the role of Marc and Colton Ford appeared as Father Jacob. Other actors who auditioned — Danny Donnelly [who is now attached in the role of Tommy, the former rent boy] and Daphne DiCinto as Valerie. Connie Romano read the part of Anna, the matriarch.
“Marc is the most autobiographical for me,” Vitacolonna said in an interview. “He comes from my life as a Franciscan friar and goes through what I went through in my coming-out process as a seminarian.” The writer acknowledged that the struggles Marc and Jacob have in Center City were inspired by his own experiences. “Jacob is a gay priest, but he considers himself a good priest. I know people like this who do not see the hypocrisy,” he said. The writer cast Ford in the role, he said, “because he is such a gay sex symbol.” He also effused about Moretti, “David is very intelligent, articulate and unashamed of his gayness. He brings a lot of nuance to the role that someone who wasn’t gay couldn’t.” At the Republican Club, Vitacolonna stroked his beard in a fatherly manner as various actors auditioned in cold readings [seeing the script for the first time]. Donnelly is perfect as Tommy and holds his own against Moretti in their early scene. Romano is engaging as Anna, but repeatedly flubs the name “Gaetano” to everyone’s amusement. During the read-through, the performers crack jokes and ad-lib, creating a warm, genial effect, not unlike the feeling one gets from the script. Nuzzolese kisses Daphne Di Cinto, the actor playing Valerie, his character’s fiancĂ©, but Ford and Moretti resist a lip-lock (much to Vitacolonna’s mock disappointment) in their scene.
Ford gave his reading an unexpectedly soulful tone, while Moretti excelled in his monologue — a sermon about how the church considers and/or oppresses gay people. Nuzzolese exhibited a nice camaraderie with Romano, who plays his mother, as well as with , his character’s brother. Ford said he was drawn to the character of Father Jacob in part because “ there was a darkness and edge” he wanted to explore. While Ford has acted (with Moretti) in the TV series The Lair, he is foremost a singer. His new CD, The Way I Am, is expected out next month. “It’s probably my most mainstream, commercial, broad-based album,” he said. But the musician said acting is a different way to express his creativity, which is why he enjoys having the opportunity to do a series like Center City.
Moretti is also excited by what the series can offer him. “The character is not about being gay, but his family struggles and identity struggles and things from his past and future,” he said. “He’s more complex than just ‘the gay guy.’” Making a pilot presentation in Philly, he added, can be beneficial for getting attention from someone who might greenlight the series, although he hopes the show could become a web series that will get picked up by a network. Vitacolonna is hoping for a cable station.
While in Philadelphia, Moretti and Nuzzolese played pool at a meet-and-greet with the actors at The Bike Stop the night before the table reading. “David and I have that brotherly link already — which is great because you sometimes have a little agita when you don’t have that connection,” Nuzzolese said.The model-turned-actor, who turned heads with his abs in the Katy Perry video for “Last Fright Night,” is excited about performing in a series that is close to his heart. “The script matches me, it’s so Italian!” he said. “Giovanni did a great job in how natural he made the characters speak.”
And hopefully audiences will get an opportunity to hear and see “Center City.” While the show is in its initial stages, the table reading showed promise, and those in attendance left hungry for more. Follow Gary M. Kramer on Twitter at @garymkramer.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Anna Fontana De Marco

My parents were from a small town in Sicily and migrated to South Philly where I was born, along with my fraternal twin, Gaetano. The restaurant they opened downtown in the Italian Market area was named after my brother and it did so well we were able to re-locate uptown to Rittenhouse Square. Now, I am the only one left of the four of us. God knows what happened to Guy. One day he walked out the door to go to the market. That was it. Gone. My sons Marc and Domenic are with me now. My former husband Nick rarely comes around and sometimes stays away for months. I used to think that when I was older, I’d know everything, I’d have all the answers. I thought when my sons would ask me, “What should I do, Ma?” I’d know exactly what to say. But nobody ever told me all the answers. They act as if they know everything, but you know how much they don’t know, because you know how much you don’t know.






On April 29, 2013 We had the good fortune of having the very talented Lisa LoCicero reading the part of Anna and showcasing CENTER CITY in West Hollywood at Celebration Theatre. It speaks well of her talent that she was able to interpret the part of an older woman. She did bring elan and panache to the reading, showcasing Anna as she ought to be.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Tommy Avalon: Sous Chef at Gaetano's Restaurant

Tommy Avalon  is in a chef coat and at a work station in the kitchen at Gaetano's. He is talking to someone off camera, while doing prep work on baby artichokes. A bottle of CYNAR is placed prominently behind him on  a shelf.

 Rita did her best. She used to say that you didn't have to give birth to be a good mother. But taking in a couple of foster kids like Joe and me doesn't mean you're a good mother either. Like I said, Rita did her best. And she is the closest I have to a parent whatever that means. I did take her name. Any port in a storm. know what I mean? Gaetano Fontana was the very first person in my life to encourage me to make my life better and he did make my life better. I was feral when I was on the stroll. The black girls on Locust Street used to call me 'Beastie Boy'.



Ya know, Guy, he always called me Tom—never Tommy. He spoke to me as if I were a grown up, even when I wasn’t so grown up. It was Guy who got me to walk the line instead of the street.

He kept his place downtown even after the restaurant went uptown. Our house wasn't too far away.  Once when the weather was good after I came home -- you know, a lot of times it was so hard to crash. I would see him unlocking his door. One night I scooted right in front of him after it was opened and stood in his vestibule. He stopped himself from falling by holding onto the door itself. Scared the shit outta him. When he realized who I was, he said, "I am not about to bed a teenager."  I was legal!


When he first met me the way he said, "I know you" made me feel different. No more "Beastie Boy."

Gaetano introduced me to this great book, Giovanni’s Room--the one the bookstore is named after. It was almost like he knew more about me than I did. I know Mrs D—she can be tough—believe me, I know. But she loves…loved?...her twin brother, no matter what. She wishes he were back here and alive. That’s why she is the way she is. We all wish it never happened. Guy is-- was--this restaurant. He worked it like it was his living room.



[He arranges the artichokes he has completed and then holds up one yet to be prepared]

These are actually quite beautiful. They are not yet thorny at this stage. There was a beautiful woman, Cynara, that the god Jupiter wanted for himself. He turned her into a goddess, but she was unhappy, so he turned her into an artichoke. Like I said, at this stage they are quite beautiful but even when mature and thorny they can be very tasty. The good news is that the artichoke is an aphrodisiac.

That Jupiter--for being the chief god he was pretty much a horn devil. He was also into a handsome young man, Ganymede. He carried him away after shape shifting into an eagle.

[Grabbing a jug of water] He turned Ganymede  into a water bearer eventually for the rest of the gods. [he adds lemon juice, crushed red pepper and herbs to the water]. Jupiter was always turning his love objects into something practically immortal and beautiful.

Me? I am like Mary Fucking Magdalene if not Ganymede or Cynara,  Gaetano Fontana helped me go to school. Got me a job. Helped turn me into somebody. He civilized me. Now, I can actually let myself feel something for somebody else.

Now I'm gonna sound like a sissy boy because there's a tsunami inside of me. I don't know how to love him. I wish Guy was still around to show me how to handle Marc.






Danny Donnelly (Tommy Avalon) and David Moretti (Marc De Marco) are attached to this tv project.

Copyright 2013 Giovanni Vitacolonna Center City


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Passion of Marc

One of the compelling storylines in the “bible” of Center City is that of former prfiest Marc De Marco. Marc left the friary where lived in common with other priests and brothers, among whom is his mentor and sometime lover Father Jacob Scaletta. His relationship with the older cleric propelled him to leave religious life and re-examine his identity as a professional Christian and a gayman. His story examines much of the hypocrisy that exists within the Church regarding sexuality.

Marc De Marco was well liked and much admired for the brief time he taught at Ascension High School run by the Ascensionist Friars. That he was a faculty advisor for the athletic department made him even more sought after by students. However, his placement on that pedestal did not make his struggles any easier. The handsome young cleric was tortured by things present and past. His personal gods showed him no mercy. In fact there didn’t seem to be much difference between the gods and demons within him.

He comes off as strong and calming, but the demeanor belies his inner turmoil.
Jacob is not about to let him go, and there is always Tommy Avalon waiting in the wings.

It is our fond hope to involve scenes with landmark Philadelphia venue the Bike Stop, a place with a rich history. It would be great to tell the story of this triangle and these three men using Philly’s well known leather/sports bar.

Pictured: David Moretti as Marc and Brian Gaskill as Father Jacob for the staged reading of Center City at Celebration Theatre 29 April 2013 in west Hollywood. David Moretti was attached to this project as Marc and Brian Gaskill was a revelation as Father Jacob


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Lisa LoCicero Comes to Center City


If there is anyone who can carry off the ominous character of Olivia Falconeri it is the formidable actress Lisa LoCicero. The natural beauty has been on screens big and small for the last fifteen years. She has been on three ABC Daytime Serials. Seems at least in this case the Alphabet Network is taking advantage of a good thing. 

About.com has this to say: Beautiful, sexy, but tough, Lisa LoCicero started in daytime as Jocelyn Roberts Brown on Loving in its final season, and then stayed with the character when the show was spun off as The City. When The City ended in 1997, she moved into film (The Family Man, Rush Hour 2) and television roles... In 2001, after [the birth of her son] she took a small break, doing voice overs. From 2004-2007, she played the role of Maria Storm in the series Reno 911! In 2004, she also appeared on One Life to Live as Sonia Toledo Santi. In the fall of 2008, LoCicero again entered daytime as Olivia Falconeri, Kate Howard's cousin, on General Hospital, and has proven to be immensely popular with the fans.

We are proud to announce that the very talented Lisa LoCicero will read the part of Anna Fontana DeMarco for the staged reading of the Center City pilot.


CENTER CITY COMES TO WEST HOLLYWOOD MONDAY APRIL 29 7:00-9:00 PM



New York, New York (April 17, 2013) --12th & Latona Productions in conjunction with John Colella and Giovanni Vitacolonna are pleased to announce a staged table reading for the pilot for CENTER CITY, a television series created by Mr Vitacolonna. Actors attached to the series who will be participating are: Lisa LoCicero (General Hospital, Reno 911), Don Jeffcoat (Eagle Eye, One Life to Live), Colton Ford (Naked Fame, The Lair), David Moretti (Scrooge and Marley, The Lair), Richie Nuzzolese (Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night", Voodoo Academy 2), Danny Donnelly (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) and Daphne Di Cinto (Gente di Mare).

The acting communities in Philadelphia and New York have lent overwhelming support to CENTER CITY. Now it's a great opportunity to stage our pilot in Los Angeles. This is a rich and complex story taking place in the heart of Philadelphia. The script is especially well received across the board. The reading in California will provide a focus group experience and an opportunity for potential supporters to have a first hand experience of this great character driven story. 

 - CONTACT: Giovanni Vitacolonna (papag@center-city.net 646.246.6346) John Colella (jc@johncolella.com)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Gay South Philly Life in Spotlight


L-R Colton Ford, Daphne Di Cinto, Richie Nuzzolese, David Moretti


Gay, S. Philly life in spotlight: South Philly native Giovanni Vitacolonna is on the path to realizing his dream of creating TV series “Center City” — about an Italian family in Philadelphia. The project, which began as a satire ...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Danny Donnelly Comes to Center City



 Danny Donnelly is an actor, writer, artist, and voice over artist from the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia, PA. Donnelly has worked hard to establish himself as a serious and versatile actor. He has appeared in over 25 independent short and feature length films playing leading, supporting, and minor roles. In the summer of 2009 he worked as the double for “Dennis’” in the hit show, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. In September of 2010, he made his stage debut playing “K.B.”, the depressed, bullied, and suicidal teenager, in the award winning stage play, When The Smoke Cleared. Danny also reprised this role when the play was brought back to the stage for the IChoose2Live anti-bullying campaign based on his character “KB” in February of 2011. Since then, Danny has been involved in five other theater productions. On his free time Danny enjoys, writing, drawing, painting, and photography. We are proud to announce that Danny is now attached to CENTER CITY, the television series created by Giovanni Vitacolonna in the role of Tommy Avalon.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Making It Happen

                                               

 We are looking forward to our table reading which will take place in Philadelphia on Sunday February 17, 2013 at the United Republican Club 3156 Frankford Ave. We are hoping to bring out current cast members from the West Coast. Attendance is free. Take a moment to check out the project on Indiegogo and also share it with your friends.  All the tools are there.  Get perks, make a contribution, or simply follow updates, If enough of us get behind it, we can make 'CENTER CITY: The Pilot' happen. Giovanni Vitacolonna papag@center-city.net