STANDBY

The closest John Roark has ever come to what would resemble adventure, is what he writes in his screenplays. Now he has to get to Paris for a meeting that may ignite the career he’s been working toward all his life. No problem: he’s packed, he’s at the airport, and his best friend got him his ticket,…so, why is the lady at the counter shaking her head while she looks at that ticket? From behind, Roark hears a sweet, lilting voice offering an explanation, “You have a stand by ticket, just like mine.” Now, what happens when he meets this adorable, cute, quirky girl who offers to help him, and guarantees to get him to Paris, for the meeting, for his career, yada, yada, yada,… What then? Could he be that lucky? Could the gods be shining down on him? Could the stars have aligned as they do only once in a millennium, just for John Roark? Most likely, no. And, not that he’s an idiot, but what exactly does it mean that he has a stand by ticket?

It means he’s not flying into Paris. Does not mean he won’t get there. On the contrary: he and his new found friend will fly into Lisbon, drive a rent-a-car up the coast through Portugal, Spain, do some farm work to help out with the shoestring budget, and, oh yeah, unwittingly be an accomplice to the assassinations of foreign dignitaries along the way. All in a day’s work for Danielle Brancaccio, the sweet young woman any man would be suckered into, I mean feel obliged to, taking care of and protect. Meanwhile, she rewrites his life and embroils Roark in a wild, out of control adventure that pales in comparison to anything he’s ever written.

Not that he’s an idiot, but Roark finds it hard to believe that Danielle could be anything other than the sweet, innocent girl she appears to be, even while she explains how to kill a man with nothing more than her thumbs. When she explains the theory of hydrostatic shock with the ease of a child enjoying a bowl of ice cream, he remains in denial.

Not until a professor like fellow, always donned in slacks and a vest, never sweats, carrying a mysterious 4 foot tube, who has shadowed Roark from the beginning of this fateful journey, explains that Roark is “an unassuming dolt, a patsy, a pawn, a puppet, a stooge, a chump, a,…” Roark finally gets it, not that he’s an idiot or anything like that. Nevertheless,Roark shows his love for the woman who awoke him from his mundane life by throwing himself in the middle of a firefight. Damn, if only Roark could write like this!

 

INVITATION TO THE BLUES

INVITATION TO THE BLUES is a dark, comedic look at street life in New York City, targeting its focus on Tom, a subway musician who performs simply for his love of music. Surrounded by his friends, a cast of hapless, loveable characters who come to him to solve their problems. In response, Tom simply does what needs to be done, working the system like a master. Along the way he is pestered by a record executive who is sure he knows what is best for our man. Tom fends off the offers with anecdotes that have nothing to do with anything. What was a simple way of life becomes somewhat complicated when Tom saves a little girl from her mother and the drug dealer to whom she was being traded for a fix. There is a happy ending, depending on your viewpoint of society.

The inspiration for this film comes from listening to the music of Tom Waits for more than 40 years. I have also lived in the streets of NYC for a few years which has given me a further appreciation for his ability to see the good in the darkest situations.

“Invitation To The Blues” will give people the opportunity to see the world through Tom Waits’ eyes. And what an amazing world it is.

 

PHOENIX PROJECT

The American people want and need to be protected. Accordingly, we put our faith in the powers that be; our government. From the surveillance of unknown enemies, to hardball decisions from the back rooms in Washington, to covert operations half way around the world, all are done unknowingly while we sleep safe and warm, protected from the evils that lie beyond our borders. That leaves us only the domestic violence and crime that are greatly attributed to the ever increasing use of illegal drugs. But that has nothing to do with the Federal government. They’re doing all they can to stop drugs and keep our streets safe. Or are they?

`PHOENIX PROJECT’, takes its audience to the government offices, the back rooms, and half way around the world to answer that question. It is a high powered, explosive movie that does more than hint at the rumors of our government being responsible for the smuggling in of drugs. It covers how, and more important, why it’s being done. It’s the story of John Jurick, a CIA operative who takes very seriously his oath to uphold and protect the United States and its Constitution. He was charged as a young man with the responsibility of protecting his country from foreign enemies in Viet Nam. Forty years later, Jurick and his mercenary group are hired to take out eight Asian drug lords including their leader, Cun Saw, an old friend and associate. Jurick’s men handle the job with flawless execution. With seven down and one to go, a deal is made in one of those Washington back rooms, setting Jurick and his men up to be slaughtered. Jurick barely escapes.

Getting back to DC, a confidant tells Jurick, “There was nothing I could do, they want you dead!”. Jurick calls in a marker with the hopes of finding out who THEY are to exact justice. Meanwhile, keeping a low profile, he finds himself in a not-so-nice section of Philadelphia. Studying his surroundings, he finds that the fear the country has is now coming from within; self destruction is well underway. Something must be done and this historic city gives the perfect setting for another revolution.

Along the way he befriends a black man less than half his age. Their racial repartee start what may be a somewhat volatile relationship until both realize there are bigger problems than the color of their skin. Together they reach out to a tragic young woman running away from her life and accept her enemies as theirs. They give her a reason to live. Ironically it almost costs her life.

Their actions are sparked simply because it’s the right thing to do. And the more they do what’s right, the more enemies they make. When Jurick finds that the corruption reaches the highest office in the land, he calls on the Phoenix Project: a group of revolutionary combatants from his unit in Viet Nam. They dust off their weapons and their knowledge and are once again ready to die for their country.

And there you have the guts of the movie. It is a story of intrigue: not knowing who to trust or where to turn; Government offices become boardrooms for deceit. Those who protect and serve, serve only themselves. Enemies become compatriots, and friends may become your worst adversary. It touches the darkest, most offensive parts of our lives and our government.

 

THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF NEW JERSEY

I wrote this script after my friend was arrested for driving on the revoked list for not paying a parking ticket he never received from a city to which he has never been. The nightmare of what he went through led me to investigate the bureaucracy that frustrates the entire population of the most corrupt state in the union. From our gay Governor who gave a very high paying job as head of Home Land Security to his lover (too bad his lover was not an American citizen and therefore had no access to any low, medium, or high security documents) to our legislators who find the time to pass into legislation making illegal the selling of runny eggs in our diners.

SWAT team swarms a neighborhood diner as a patron prepares to dab his bread into the yoke of his breakfast; “Drop the toast!!!” Welcome to the People’s Republic of New Jersey.

Imagine being jailed for driving with a license that has been revoked for not paying a parking ticket from a town in which you have never visited; Bob Farside finds himself in what he thinks must be an episode of The Twilight Zone. Could his conspiracy theorist best friend, Bill Horin, have been right all these years? No, of course not. After all, Bill is the black equivalent of Kramer from Seinfeld and also convinced that Farside is in all reality a super hero himself. Farside’s usual easy going demeanor changes quickly when he accepts his new moniker of “criminal” with which the state has adorned him. Just about at his wit’s end, a semblance of sanity shows its head in the form of Barry Hodges, a Christopher Walken type old school State Trooper who dreams of the old days when the state police were more than just traffic cops sitting on the sides of the highways and has a plan to get things back to the way they were; back to the days of “To Protect And Serve”. Too bad his plan includes serial killing. Oh well, whatever it takes. “People’s Republic of New Jersey” is a comedic look at living in the most over-regulated, over-authoritative, over-taxed, most corrupt state in the nation and how a chain reaction of circumstances led a band of unlikely allies to each other and help them deal with their frustrations of not only living in, but more importantly, guide their quest to change the insanity and bureaucracy that surrounds them.

The amazing thing; when it comes to the most farfetched laws of the state used in the story, none had to be fabricated.

 

LONG ROAD

Logline: A man’s obsession with having more and more to offer his childhood sweetheart, takes from her the only thing she ever really wanted; him.

What has a man gained if he acquires the world and loses his soul mate? A question Andy McGough anguishes over every day of his life since he left his one and only love, Susan, back in Beaverdale, a small coal mining town in Southwestern, Pa. It was a cruel irony that drove him to New York City to make a life for the girl he left behind and never saw again. His obsession with having more and more to offer his childhood sweetheart, took from her the only thing she ever wanted; him.

In his quest for any redemption in life, Andy adopts a young man, Michael Ryan, as his protégé. While under his tutelage, he sees his young ward heading down the same road of loneliness that he had lived with for more than 50 years. It’s a lesson Ryan doesn’t quite get until the death of his mentor. Following the dying wishes of his friend, he makes his way to Beaverdale. While resting at a mountain spring just outside the small town, a voice in the wind leads Ryan to Susan’s rooftop.

‘LONG ROAD’, an intimate examination of love, loneliness, and friendship, not only looks at today’s ‘Rat Race’, but will take its audience back to a simpler time. A time when things were as they ought to be.

It’s a story that tells us fate can be a beautiful thing. The powers that be, whatever they are, arrange a course of events and achieve the desired conclusion; a happy ending.

 

TALK ISN’T CHEAP

Sometimes words can move mountains,… or bring down buildings.

John Randolf, a self proclaimed rebel who simply wants to stay under the radar of the system, can’t help but speak his mind when the occasion arises. The only problem, in today’s society, when does the occasion not arise? That along with ‘happy accidents’ make for an interesting life.

Living behind the barn on the farm of Peter Thompson, a World War 2 veteran, Randolf adopts the old man as his own and also recruits a few young men eager to learn while they work the farm. Heading into town to pick up supplies , one of those happy accidents occur that slowly sets off a chain reaction that eventually will seal Randolf’s fate.

Randolf has a genuine magnetism for interesting characters. From the part time guitar player who talks him into going to the Library 3 Tavern where he meets Linda, the investment banker he falls in love with although Linda has a jealous future ex-boyfriend, who mistakenly thinks Randolf is responsible for blowing up a government building, which inadvertently, he was. This all leads to a standoff at the farm reminiscent of Concord in 1775. This is a movie that will make people think and maybe even question their government.

 

LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE

Logline:  In today’s age of boxing where most of the fighting is done between the lawyers and managers, a man steps out from the past. His past.

Integrity set in the boxing world? Not as farfetched as you might think. Not if you remember old boxing melodramas about good natured palookas and their slimy opponents. In my movie, “LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!”, the palookas are good natured, the opponents are slimy, but the time is now. In today’s age of boxing where most of the fighting is done between the lawyers and managers, a man steps out from the past. His past. Years ago, undefeated middleweight Johnny Valko realized he not only had to fight the opponents he met in the ring, but also the outside powers that be. Unwilling to play their games and take a dive, Valko lashes out and is exiled to the backroom fights of the underground in New York City.

On the other side of the coin is Bruce Johnson, a clean cut young man with all the right backing. Fast rising, due to handpicked opponents, Bruce alienates the people around him. Like many of today’s fighters, he starts to believe his own press clippings and loses his perspective in a world of fame, fast cars, and women. Easily manipulated by an unscrupulous Don Kinglike promoter who has designs on the young fighter, Bruce is wrested away from his trainer, Carmen Grazi.

Inevitably, the lives of the two fighters meet, mix, tangle, then explodes into a cold eyed appraisal of the scum infested boxing world.

This movie is a personality clash of the two men. One who cannot deal with either acclaim nor responsibility and is easily manipulated by promoters and opportunists. The other captures the true spirit of a fighter; the individualist. The rebel.