Saturday, June 16, 2018
Movies

Go beyond the 'no', advises actor Chazz Palminteri

By Steve Persall

Times Movie Critic

Chazz Palminteri is grateful but thinks the career achievement award he'll accept tonight at the Gasparilla International Film Festival is a bit premature.

"I always think my best work is yet to come," Palminteri, 59, says during a telephone chat. The Oscar nominee's past year proves he's trying hard, and not always in the movies.

Last November, Palminteri, 59, opened Chazz: A Bronx Original restaurant in Baltimore, earning raves for its pizza and veal meatballs. Meanwhile, he took his signature one-man show A Bronx Tale to Las Vegas and got named best show on the strip, while shopping a new play to Broadway and polishing the book for a musical version of A Bronx Tale.

Call tonight's tribute a half-career celebration — for great performances in such films as Bullets Over Broadway, The Usual Suspects and, of course, A Bronx Tale after a holdout defining Palminteri's artistic integrity as much as anything.

Palminteri recounts digging in his heels with Hollywood, what aspiring filmmakers can learn from that, and missing his hair, in these interview excerpts:

You famously said no to Hollywood unless you got the deal you wanted for A Bronx Tale.

Look, I had $200 in the bank, and the first offer I got was $250,000. I said I have to write the screenplay and I have to play Sonny. They said "No," and I said, "Okay, we're not doing it." After I turned down the $250,000, the rest was easy. That was the hardest to turn down.

Then it went to $500,000 and then to a million dollars. I still refused to do it, and then a week later Robert De Niro walked into the theater, saw the show, came to me and said: You write the script, you'll be Sonny and I'll direct.

You have to realize that everyone in Hollywood wanted it at the time. . . . People were approaching me in bathrooms and restaurants, saying: "I'll write you out a check right now." In my heart I knew somehow somebody would step up, you know?

What do you tell filmmakers asking your advice?

To be in this business you have to get used to hearing the word "no," to be disappointed and not let that word bother you. . . . Just keep persevering. I always say: Try to be the best at what you do, and be well-liked. If you have that combination it's pretty hard to fail at anything.

A Bronx Tale is unusual for Las Vegas entertainment — no showgirls or singing, just you playing 18 characters.

You're absolutely correct. People said this worked on Broadway but it'll never work in Vegas. But I was so convinced I just said, "I'm sorry, the story's too good." I was so confident. Then it was voted best show of 2011 by the Las Vegas Journal. I've been back; this is the fifth time now and it works. (The audience) is absolutely quiet, like a theater piece. It's amazing. I don't brag about anything I ever did, but this whole thing is just so unique.

Speaking of unique: What is Razamachazz?

Oh, that was the band I was in, in the '70s, playing Top 40 stuff, some disco. We had a very big following. I had wild hair, very long. Wish I still had it.

Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365.

Comments
‘Incredibles 2’ just might be better than the original — and a cure to superhero fatigue

‘Incredibles 2’ just might be better than the original — and a cure to superhero fatigue

It’s been 14 years since the premiere of Brad Bird’s beloved animated superhero film The Incredibles, one of the mega-hit Pixar films that cemented its reputation for film humor and heart that would satisfy both parents and children. With cool mid-ce...
Published: 06/13/18
Why is Mister Rogers making adults cry decades later?

Why is Mister Rogers making adults cry decades later?

Neighborly block party comes to downtown Tampa.
Published: 06/12/18
 ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’ about Mr. Rogers is much-needed emotional tonic for troubled times

‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’ about Mr. Rogers is much-needed emotional tonic for troubled times

If beloved children’s television show host Mr. Rogers were once a representation of all things milquetoast, in the summer of 2018, his message of love and tolerance is not only saintly, it’s radical. In the deftly crafted documentary Won’t You Be My ...
Published: 06/12/18
Yes, ‘Ocean’s 8’ is a heist movie, but it’s also an empowering, cheeky comedy

Yes, ‘Ocean’s 8’ is a heist movie, but it’s also an empowering, cheeky comedy

Most every successful heist movie, just like a heist itself, functions by obeying a well-defined formula.First comes the setup and backstory (typically involving the righting of a wrong, to lend the subsequent lawbreaking a veneer of moral justificat...
Published: 06/06/18
TMZ: Last surviving munchkin from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ dies at 98

TMZ: Last surviving munchkin from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ dies at 98

The last surviving munchkin in The Wizard of Oz has died.Jerry Maren, 98, died last week at a nursing home in San Diego, according to TMZ.The cause of death for the last surviving member of the famous Lollipop Guild, made famous in the 1939 classic, ...
Published: 06/06/18
‘Blind Side’ star is at Tampa Theatre for a screening this weekend

‘Blind Side’ star is at Tampa Theatre for a screening this weekend

BLIND SIDE: Summer Classic Movie SeriesAll summer long, Tampa Theatre is showing classic Hollywood movies. Sunday features not only a screening of 2009’s The Blind Side, but also actor Quinton Aaron, who played Big Mike in the film, for a Q&A. Based ...
Published: 06/06/18
In ‘Hereditary,’ Toni Collette reveals a sixth sense for icy terror

In ‘Hereditary,’ Toni Collette reveals a sixth sense for icy terror

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, as Tolstoy noted in a sentence so right, by the time you started arguing with it Anna Karenina was off and suffering.If Tolstoy got a look at Hereditary, he might’ve added: ...
Published: 06/06/18
Jodie Foster makes ‘Hotel Artemis’ first-class experience

Jodie Foster makes ‘Hotel Artemis’ first-class experience

Hotel Artemis is a shining example of how it isn’t the amount of money spent to make a movie, but how the budget is being spent. Director/writer Drew Pearce has managed to take the money that would be the cape-pressing budget for most superhero movie...
Published: 06/06/18
Summer movie guide: All the superheroes, sequels and quirky comedies to see

Summer movie guide: All the superheroes, sequels and quirky comedies to see

Summer started early this year in Hollywood with the record-breaking release of Avengers: Infinity War, and the marquee Marvel superheroes couldn’t have come at a better time. The box office for the year is down nearly 3 percent, and the industry is ...
Published: 06/05/18
How Ybor City parties inspired the sets of Avengers: Infinity War

How Ybor City parties inspired the sets of Avengers: Infinity War

Thanos has nothing on Plant City native Charlotte Lee.For the Avengers: Infinity War baddie to alter the perception of his surroundings, he needed a Reality Stone, which, according to the Marvel movie’s lore, was a remnant of one of six singularities...
Published: 05/31/18
Updated: 06/01/18