Saturday, November 16, 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

Friday, October 11, 2013

Coming Out: We're the Lucky Ones

No reason left for living, still there's a lot to do.
New tears to cry, old songs to sing.
And feel forever blue.
And be forever.... Blue
-- Chris Isaak

The episode "Forever Blue," featured on the CBS forensic drama, Cold Case picked up some buzz on the internet back in December 2006.  The quote from Chris Isaak's "Forever Blue" in homage to the episode's title and the sadness that envelopes the tale of two policemen who love each other with the love that dared not speak its name. Once again prime time television has spoken its name and placed it before our eyes.

AfterElton interviewed Shane Johnson who portrayed one of the lovers:

I think it’s a necessity for people to understand that gays and lesbians did–and do–get beaten and murdered just for being gay. (The show went out of its way to ask if things were really that much better for gay cops today.) Besides the aforementioned kiss, the show not only portrayed the two men as being deeply in love, but in fact being “the lucky ones” because they truly loved each other. The show also showed the horrible damage wrought by living in the closet. And despite Coop’s death it even managed to end on a happy note as Jimmy, now an old man (Chad Everett) went back to where he had last been with Coop and saw themselves walking away together holding hands. It was quite touching and something millions of Americans tuned in to see without knowing they were going to.

Brian Hallisay played the young Jimmy Bruno.

The ending for the episode actually featured Dylan's "My Back Pages" performed by The Byrds with the refrain, "I was so much older then I'm younger than that now." That phrase might be applied to the portrayer of the older, surviving officer, Jimmy Bruno in the person of Chad Everett.

The presence of the 70 year old, quite handsome Chad Everett who at the time was also a host on Trinity Broadcasting Network's Master's Theater and who is also well known for his Republican leanings and a public disagreement with Lily Tomlin in 1972 on The Dick Cavett Show during which Ms Tomlin walked off the set. Chad Everett was the last actor who had a contract with MGM and one of the last who had a relationship with Henry "The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson" Willson. His phone conversations in those days "invariably ended with 'And God Be With You.'" Still he was connected to the homosexual par excellence, albeit closeted, Henry Willson.

His participation here is quite noteworthy and may be another milestone of sorts.

This episode resonates on National Coming Out Day and National LGBT History like few others. It reminds us how long a road it has been.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Lovin' Lisa LoCicero Out Loud

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. 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.

Where: Celebration Theatre 7051 Santa Monica Boulevard West Hollywood
When: Monday, April 29, 2013 7:00 to 9:00 pm
How Much: Free (Donation appreciated to Celebration Theatre)

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 ( 646.246.6346            
                   John Colella


Friday, February 22, 2013

Lovin' Danny Donnelly Out Loud

 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.