Martin Scorsese once directed a film, Italianamerican about his Little Italy neighborhood in New York. Tonight, Scorsese failed to mention two great Italian Americans who assisted in the making of his film about the Boston Irish.
The first is Mayor Thomas M. Menino. Sadly, I ran down to the 5th floor one minute late so I missed Scorsese exiting Mayor Menino’s office at around 9:15 one morning during the making of the film. I’ll never know what went on in the Mayor’s office when the first Italian mayor of Boston met the director who has told the story of America during four decades of public life. I do know that the Mayor gave the greenlight to Scorsese filming on City Hall Plaza and okayed the city’s assistance with this project. The Mayor, in his own way, is partly responsible for an Academy Award.
I also have to give praise to Patte Papa of the Mayor’s Office of Arts, Tourism, Special Events and Film. Patte helped Scorsese — as she does anyone making a film, running a parade, or holding an ethnic festival in town. While her work often goes unrecognized, she now owns part of an Oscar too. (Actually it’s her second, because Mystic River won as well.)
Mark Wahlberg Addendum: Wahlberg has come a long way since he first made it as a star. I first met Wahlberg back in 1991 on Broadway in Lower Manhattan. He was walking past the McDonald’s with two other guys and rapping. He was being tailed by two swooning teenage girls. After they stopped to talk to him, I caught up to him and made small-talk. I knew his family had moved from Dorchester to Braintree, and I made mention of growing up in Hull, the coastline of which had just been devastated by a major storm. Little did either of us realize that Wahlberg would later star in a film about that Nor’easter, The Perfect Storm. Neither did we know that his brother would go on to open what would become the best restaurant in the Town of Hull, Bridgeman’s. In the spirit of my friend Ron Della Chiesa, I urge everyone to visit Bridgeman’s, order a fabulous meal and glass of wine, and toast, Scorsese, Menino, Papa and Wahlberg on this wonderful achievement.
Matt Damon Addendum: Matt Damon lived at Harvard’s Lowell House the same time I did. We both lifted weights at the Malkin Athletic Center, the MAC. Matt was always a very friendly person, and we would converse in the Lowell House Dining Room. I believe he was particularly friendly to me as I was one of the small percentage of local kids in the House. At any rate, he was a nice guy.
One day he came into the dining room talking about an audition in Hollywood he was offered. It was for a starring role in a television series, something called “Beverly Hills: 90210”. Keep in mind, the show hadn’t aired yet. Here are my exact words: “You should do it, dude! That’s awesome. Go for it.”
All I have to say now is thank God Matt Damon never listened to the likes of me. Damon had faith in himself that he could be a serious actor. I’m sure he would have made a fortune as Brandon Walsh, but Damon’s destiny lay in being a serious actor. Like Wahlberg and DiCaprio, he’s one of the best. He has a great career ahead of him, which is reassuring because he is an excellent guy, who deserves all the success he gets.