#132 Actor Chazz Palminteri talks about his musical A Bronx Tale
When I was younger, being Italian and having an older brother mean that I got to watch movies I never would have gotten away with at my age. Namely, a good bit of gangster themed flicks. One name I grew up watching was “Chazz” Palminteri. You knew his voice before you even saw him on screen (A credit to a good bit of his voice over work).
Chazz starred in some of my favorites from the 90’s- Analyze This, Mulholland Drive, Jade, Diabolique, and one of all time top 10- The Usual Suspects. But one movie spoke volumes when I was younger about a father, and the mob boss who influenced his son back in the 60’s in the Bronx. The film was called A Bronx Tale, and Chazz Palminteri played Sonny the mob boss, starring opposite Robert De Niro. Unlike other gangster films of the 90’s- Casino, Goodfellas, Mobsters, just to name a few, A Bronx Tale spoke about interracial love as well as the conflict between father and son.
I had no idea at that time, or years to come that Chazz Palminteri wrote A Bronx Tale. Also that the film was based off of his one man play, and that play was based off a murder Chazz witnessed as a 9 year old boy growing up on Belmont Ave. It was only until I found out that I scored an interview with the famed actor that took me down a spiral into his life, and how close he is to his work. In fact almost 90’s of the movie is based off of Chazz’s life.
Back when Chazz wrote the play and performed it as a one man show playing all 18 of the characters, he got a visit from none other than Robert De Niro in his dressing room. De Niro asked Chazz if he could direct the movie version of A Bronx Tale. Chazz asked if he could play Sonny and away they went with Chazz as the mob boss and De Niro playing the father. Together in the movie they played perfectly off of one another.
Years later they co wrote together “A Bronx Tale the Musical”. With music by Alan Menkin the show is now in touring and will be showing in my hometown of Pittsburgh at the Benedum Center for the Arts on November 19th to the 24th.
Join me as I chat with chazz about growing up Italian in the Bronx, his career, working with De Niro, cooking, family, and his work in this show that speak volumes even today in our society. I haven’t seen A Bronx Tale yet at the Benedum Center but I plan on being there when it runs in November to witness one of childhood favorites brought to life through music and dancing on stage.
Big thanks to Buzzy Torek at Epicast and Brett Zoric for helping out with the audio edits on this one! You guys are the best!
This episode is sponsored by Games Unlimited my go to place for choosing a puzzle, game, for my next quality time.
“Located in the popular section of Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh, Games Unlimited opened in 1978 to serve the greater Pittsburgh are a diverse selection of classic, party, and war-games along with jigsaw puzzles. Very soon the phenomenon of Dungeons and Dragons made role playing games a staple and Games Unlimited has been a gaming hub for Pittsburgh ever since. As a small, local business it aspires to make gaming accessible to anyone through it’s wide selection of family, cooperative, and strategy games.”
Owned by Kylie Prymus, Kylie started his career in gaming writing articles about the intersection of video games and philosophy while teaching and working on his Ph. D. In 2009 he moved to Pittsburgh, and after discovering Games Unlimited, traded in his software and controllers for meeples and dice.
Before long he decided to switch careers and became the manager of Games Unlimited, eventually purchasing it in 2015. As a gaming evangelist he knows that there’s a perfect game out there for everyone, even people who say they don’t like games”