Movie Title: The Encore of Tony Duran
Country / Region: USA
Genre: Drama / Comedy
Palm Springs, California, USA
Release Date: January 7,2011, USA
Tony (Tony Pietragello) has been on a long, slow slide since his heyday as a promising young performer in Hollywood, losing his wife, his home and his dreams of a bright future along the way. Now living in a rental house in Palm Springs , he spends his days drinking and dreaming up ways to get back into the game - but the game still has a few left hooks to throw at Tony before he'll get his shot. Enter Jerry (Elliot Gould), an old school, Catskills comedian who's saved Tony's butt more than once. When Tony goes to him for "one last loan," Jerry goes along with the request, but warns Tony against using the money for any scheme that could wind up as yet another disaster. As might be expected, Tony ignores his benefactor's advice, and his subsequent actions lead him even further down the road to ruin ...
Just when things look darkest for Tony, Jerry reenters the picture, forcing Tony to confront the events that caused him to leave Hollywood so long ago, and setting him up with a regimen that will get him back on a path to health, happiness and the life he's always wanted for himself.
FILM FESTIVAL SCREENING TIMES for "The Encore of Tony Duran" ...
Friday - January 14, 2011 at 4:00 pm and
Sunday - January 16, 2011 at 7:00 pm
Both screenings will take place at the Regal Palm Springs 9 Cinemas, located at 789 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs, CA 92262
Bickering on the set. Patience come to an end. Egos run amuck. Shooting behind schedule - way behind schedule. Such are the common threads running through many a Hollywood movie.
In stark contrast, an assembly of cast and crew members filming the final scene of The Encore of Tony Duran in October appeared to have just stepped off the Good Ship Lollipop. Their commitment to the feature - all of which was shot in the Coachella Valley - made Gene Pietragallo (Tony Duran) describe the project as "a labor of love."
The oft-used synonym for "low-budget project" usually confines itself to the "labor of love" of one or two individuals. In the ballroom of Riviera Resort & Spa in Palm Springs, a much larger crowd was on board. During 13 days of filming, mostly in April, the crew had accomplished the near-impossible: shooting 19 pages of script in one day (three to six pages a day is typical in feature films).
Slated to direct a $ 12 million film in 2011, Fred Sayeg was directing the Encore with a budget of $ 500,000.
"This one just kind of crept up on me," he says. "It was pretty organic. It wasn't about money. Nobody here is about 'Where do I stand? How much am I making?' It's more about" We want to be involved. 'It's a really good family of people. "
The "family" connections began in the desert when Pietragallo conceived the plot with Terry Fraser of Palm Springs and Mitchell Cohen, who works for Sayeg in Los Angeles. While driving to "another gig," the director says, Cohen told him about the screenplay he'd written based on the story devised by the trio. "I thought about it creatively, not just as a business [deal]," Sayeg recalls. "It was a story I really liked."
"I think this is a story that will really resonate with people about a guy who is struggling," Cohen says. "Everybody is struggling these days. If you can change the things you value most and make your aims more simple and more about contentment than material success, it's a very easy thing to come back from that emotional brink. "
Pietragallo describes Encore as a dark comedy and a story of redemption. "It's loosely based on my life," he says, "though I haven't done the bad things Tony has."
He did do one thing Tony did, however: lost 50 pounds. He put on weight for the film ("I had a head start," he says, laughing) and then lost even more. It required a break in filming from April to October, when the finale was shot at the Riviera. The other actors in the film hadn't seen Pietragallo during the summer, so when Cody Kasch as Tony's son sees his father's transformation on the set, the camera records an honest reaction.
Kasch, mostly known for his role as Zach Young on Desperate Housewives, hadn't been to Palm Springs before, but by his second visit in October declared it a place where he'd like to spend more time. (Pietragallo notes that Kasch is appearing in the film for significantly lower pay than his standard $ 27,000 day rate.) When Pietragallo mentions having worked at Friday's in Marina del Rey in the early '80s ("I was the worst waiter in the world," he says), Kasch remarks on the coincidence that his father had worked at that restaurant around the same time. Another family connection.
Back in the ballroom, Elliott Gould sits on the stage, waiting for the crew to set up the cameras and get extras in place for a well-known Coachella Valley scene: a fundraiser with entertainment. According to Sayeg, his casting director asked him for the names of four people he wanted for the role of a famous comedian who had retired to the desert. At the top of that list was Gould, who signed on immediately after reading the script.
"I respond to the story," Gould says. "I think it's a really significant story in terms of what's possible for any individual to overcome and embrace one's problems. I believe in redemption."
The prolific actor may believe in redemption, but, as a self-described "Brooklyn boy" says that he's "not into resorts." Nevertheless, he holds the Coachella Valley in esteem. "I think it's Mecca for a certain kind of life here in America, "he says." I more than respect it. "
Aside from the shooting Encore, Gould's most recent visit was in February when he introduced a video of Ann-Margret at the Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards (bad weather precluded the actress from attending the Desert AIDS Project gala). But Gould has been here in years past.
"Ginger Rogers was a friend of mine," he says. "When I asked her to pay my mother in a film, she thought it was a little lewd," he recalls. (Shelley Winters took that role in Over the Brooklyn Bridge. )
Gould says he'll return to Palm Springs in January if the film is screened in the Palm Springs International Film Festival (the producers have submitted Encore for consideration by festival programmers). Local audiences would no doubt enjoy seeing desert locales on the big screen ( Manhattan in the Desert, Mizell Senior Center, and Riviera Resort & Spa included), especially since they are not "stand-ins" for other locales. For example, one scene mentions the history of the Riviera Resort as a place where Frank Sinatra and other big names in entertainment performed.
Whether or not the Encore is accepted in the festival, the producers and director are happy they shot the film here.
"The desert as a location has taken on a life of its own," Cohen says, noting contributions from local businesses. "We couldn't be more grateful."
"The people have been great," Sayeg agrees. "Local merchants, extras, everybody. They're not as added as they are in LA They appreciate that we wanted to keep this a Palm Springs project. It just felt right to do it here. "
The Encore of Tony Duran stars Gene Pietragallo, Elliott Gould, Cody Kasch, Nikki Schieler Ziering, and William Katt. It is scheduled for a 2011 release.
Fred A. Sayeg
Writing credits (in alphabetical order)
Mitchell Cohen written by
Terry Allen Fraser story
Cast (in credits order)
Elliott Gould ... Jerry Braill
Gene Pietragallo ... Tony Duran
William Katt ... Art Smith
Nikki Schieler Ziering ... Leah Shepard
Cody Kasch ... Michael Duran
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Mitchell Cohen ... Eddie Pena
Esteban ... Himself
Tony Frassrand ... Hotel Security
Andrew Leonard ... Boy selling candy
Bentley Morriss ... Hotel Ballroom Manager
Joe Ricci ... Sal
Victoria Sayeg ... Cheryl
Mitchell Cohen .... producer
Gerard DiNardi .... producer
Terry Allen Fraser .... co-producer
Gene Pietragallo .... co-producer
Fred A. Sayeg .... producer
Kenneth H. Wiatrak
Film Editing by
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Gerard DiNardi .... first assistant director
Ram Paul Silbey .... second assistant director
Camera and Electrical Department
Jason D. Avalos .... dit red camera
Ian T. Barbella .... first assistant camera: "b" camera
Mark Mecalis .... b unit camera operator
Matt Mosher .... camera operator: "b" camera
Diana 'Didi' R. Sainz .... still photographer
Jimmy Salazar .... electrician
Jimmy Salazar .... grip
Benjamin Steeples .... additional first assistant camera
Chloe Weaver .... first assistant camera: "a" camera
Ryland Cronk .... production assistant
Ashley McGarry .... production coordinator: pre-production
Diana 'Didi' R. Sainz .... production coordinator
Brandon Weil .... assistant production coordinator
One More Time Productions