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What I Learned in NYC: Denis Leary Knows the Rays and The Niagaras Rock

Denisleary2 QUEENS, N.Y. -- Denis Leary has a simple message for the guys who are asking St. Petersburg to risk millions building a new baseball stadium for The Rays.

Win a championship, already.

"Just win a championship -- then they could put the f---ing stadium in a diving bell at the bottom of the Gulf and people would come," said Leary, taking a long drag on a cigarette. "I liked it better when they were the Devil Rays, anyway."

Leary and I landed on the subject of Tampa Bay area baseball after a 30-minute interview, granted during a brief break between scenes filming the next season of FX's crackling firefighter drama Rescue Me. On location at a well-kept home in a tidy Queens neighborhood, Leary was impossibly thin and surprisingly good natured, splitting our talk evenly between news about Rescue Me and tidbits about HBO's new film on the election debacle, Recount.

Rescue_me_ver4 Rescue Me is currently filming 22 episodes in a row, nearly twice the usual 13 episodes they create each season, thanks to the Hollywood writers' strike. when I visited the set Friday afternoon, Leary was tackling scenes with Tatum O'Neal, who plays his sister, comic Lenny Clarke, who plays his uncle and Patti D'Urbanville, who plays the woman that fell in love with clarke's character when he was in prison.

I'll have more tidbits when I write a preview of the new saeason based on our interview. But Leary was an expressive, engaging storyteller, who related a sidesplitting story about how he was such a Sopranos fan, he watched the series finale alone to concentrate on the show, only to take a bite out of a sandwich the very moment the screen went blank.250_rescue_me_468

"What a ballsy move," he said, to a chorus of laughter from the assorted writers and assistants watching the story. "I wasn't angry. I just couldn't believe he did it."

SIDE NOTE: I'm writing this item at 3:30 a.m., after spending the evening watching a former drum Niagaras student of mine play with a smoking New York band called the Niagaras. It seemed to be fate that former student Dylan Wissing and I would reunite -- he heard me talking on a segment featured on WNYC-FM and decided to drop me a line, two weeks before I would come to New York.

So it was gratifying to see a youngster who I tried to help when he was learning the drums early on, access the life of satiasfaction and creative expression which comes with a lifelong study of the instrument. And the band he played with tonight, New York stalwarts The Niagaras, were smoking hot and nice enough to let me sit in for a tune.

Sometimes, there's advantages to hanging around long enough to see your students become masters.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:46pm]


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