CITY ISLAND COUNTDOWN: TFF-19!
By the way, thanks to the Tribeca Film Festival for linking to this blog. Tomorrow morning I'm supposed to be heading to the Bronx to do a little WNBC interview on City Island itself.
Anyway, back to the Sinister Saga of Staging City Island.
For close to three years, I tried--with my producers at Echo Lake--to gain enough traction to get "City Island" off the ground. Budgets were made and discarded. The part was offered here and there to actors but never with an official offer--i.e. money--and this often means that the script goes straight to the bottom of the pile. In the meantime, I made two films: "The Thing About My Folks" with Paul Reiser and Peter Falk (shot in 2003, released in 2005) and my documentary "Tis Autumn: The Search For Jackie Paris" (shot and edited over 2004 and 2005). In late 2005, Echo Lake's option was up on "City Island" and they elected not to renew. I wasn't surprised and was frankly relieved; even though I liked Doug and Andy and knew their interest in the movie was genuine, we simply had burned out on figuring out how to get the thing made.
For the next year I was busy adapting a novel by Oscar Hijuelos, "A Simple Havana Melody". I forgot about "City Island" for awhile, figuring that its time had come and gone. And then I got a call from my agent. "What about Andy Garcia for 'City Island'?"
Indeed, thought I. Why had we never approached him before? Somehow he hadn't seemed a logical choice. But why not? He's played Italians before--in The Godfather 3, no less.
My agent said: "We represent him here and he's very independent-film friendly. I have a hunch he might respond to the script."
Send it, said I. I liked the idea the more I thought of it. But I knew the truth about actors: no offer, not much of a chance.
Nevertheless, the project was dormant and what did I have to lose?
A week or so later my agent called and said that Andy would like to speak with me. That was Thanksgiving week, 2006. We met at his office in LA (actually a house that he and his family once lived in which he keeps as a sort of catch-all office, center of the universe space). The three years of nowheredom suddenly vanished. I was meeting my Vince--and he wanted to do it. We talked about all manner of things the first day--not just the script but life, filmmaking, cigars (he smokes, I used to) and--big subject for both of us--music. By the end of the day, "City Island" had more life pumped into it than at any time since the script was first composed five years earlier.
The question was: now that I finally had the right man for Vince...HOW THE HELL DO WE GET THIS THING MADE?
Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 12:54 PM