Last night I got to go to my first red carpet event as a correspondent for The IBang, and it was a great time. The movie, Staten Island Summer is really funny, and it’s the kind of movie you need to have at least one of every summer. The entire movie takes place in Staten Island, most of it at a pool club and it’s one of those great summer party movies in the tradition of Caddyshack and Wet Hot American Summer. Saturday Night Live’s Colin Jost wrote the movie, and based the main character on his own life, growing up in Staten Island. Lorne Michaels executive produced, and all the required ingredients are there for a summer classic– asshole boss at your summer job, lifeguards, mob boss with a hot daughter, sweet kid who can’t get the girl of his dreams, and a massive end of summer party. Plus there’s a huge cast filled with comedy stars like Bobby Moynihan, Jim Gaffigan, Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon, Fred Armisen, and Will Forte to name a few.
So many big names were slated to show up for the premiere at New York’s Sunshine Landmark Theater so I headed downtown with Anthony Cifelli assisting, to hit the red carpet along with photographer Earl Douglas. Here’s what we learned.
The first celebrity making his way down the carpet was 10-year-old Jackson Nicholl who gets to play Fred Armison’s little buddy in the movie. As he approached, I wondered if he would be cocky because he was wearing nicer shoes than I was. I asked him what it was like working with Armisen. “Awesome!” he said. He also told me he likes to fish and he caught seven striper the other night. Somehow we got around to talking about crappies (google it). I concluded that Jackson Nicoll is already fed up with reporters at the age of 10, and I don’t think he liked me very much. Then again I didn’t have a ball to play with. Mental note, next time bring a ball.
I talked with twins Kellie and Katie Cockrell. I asked them if they got to choose which twin would play which part and was surprised when they actually told me that they did get to decide who would play the hot twin and which was going to play the ugly twin with the meatier part. One of them got to kiss Zack Pearlman (who you know as the neighbor from Mulaney). The other twin told me that she got to kiss Bobby Moynihan, but the scene got cut. So everyone wins.
I also got a big scoop about when they worked on their last film, Star Trek: Into Darkness. Can you call it a scoop when you find it out two years after the movie comes out? I say yes. Anyways, they said everything about the movie was so secretive, that they didn’t even know what movie they were going to be working on until the day before; they were only told it was a JJ Abrams project. They said they had to wear hooded capes around the set to hide from paparazzi, and did 12 days of makeup testing for one day of shooting which ended up as a five second scene in the movie. Working on Staten Island Summer was not nearly as secretive, they said. Most importantly I found out Kelly and Katie’s favorite colors are turquoise and yellow. I tried to convince myself at least one of them was checking me out, but it turns out that she only had something in her eye.
At around 7:45 I see Vincent Pastore — who played Big Pussy on The Sopranos— making his way down the line. He plays a pissed off Staten Island mafia boss who is very protective of his daughter in the movie. I really wanted to ask Vincent Pastore some questions so I waited, excited to meet the man. I got to talk to Mary Birdsong who played Vincent Pastore’s wife in the movie. She’s flirty, and she’s got boobs “out to here” — her words, not mine. She told me how much she loved working with “Vinnie” and said she thinks her character was the one who was really in charge. I also wanted to thank her for answering my questions but I think it came out “thank you for asking my questions.”
7:53 rolls around, I still haven’t gotten Pastore, but I keep practicing pronouncing his name correctly. Instead of Pastore I get to talk to the guy who finds a Speedo in the lost and found that’s too small for him. He’s credited as Speedo guy. I ask him if he has a favorite speedo brand, and he says he doesn’t. Neither of us realize that Speedo is a brand. By 8:00 I realize the bad news. Pastore has moved on. When you’re on a red carpet, sometimes you don’t get to talk to the person you want. So just like high school I never really did get Pussy. But Earl, did, in this photo below.
I talk to two of the film’s leads. Graham Philips, is actually playing a young Colin Jost. Well, he plays Danny Campbell who is based on a young Colin Jost. Graham said that he thinks his degree from Princeton helped him get the role, because Jost is a Harvard Graduate. “He’s a little pretentious you know he went to Harvard, he really only felt like it was appropriate to hand it over to a fellow ivy leaguer,” he said, and added “I feel like I’m pretty similar to Colin, I feel like we have a pretty similar sense of humor. And I didn’t feel like I had to change myself too much to play him.”
John DeLuca plays the more stereotypical Staten Island Italian type in the movie. He’s the lifeguard who gets all the girls and walks around shirtless. John said he loved being in the movie, and working with the comedy stars was intimidating at first but they made him feel welcome. He only regretted that he didn’t have more time to get in shape for the movie. “I found out I got the part and I left a few days later so I was like, ‘crap I guess this is the shape I’m going to be in for this movie.” He looked like he was in pretty good shape in the movie to me– not that I was looking– so I agreed with him ‘yeah, I’m the same way, gotta get into that lifeguard shape.’ I don’t know if he got the joke. As he walks away I let everyone know I feel ugly.
When Gina Gershon arrived I almost fainted myself to death. She’s still got it in every way both in the film and in person. Here’s Gina and Colin looking perfect. They should have babies. Gina plays the aging milf in the movie who is always trying to catch the eye of the younger guys. This is most un-believable un-realistic part of the movie. Trust me, Gina doesn’t have to try to catch anyone’s eye.
Casey Jost told me Colin made this movie because really wanted to help clean up the reputation Staten Island has around the country by showing everyone that they aren’t all “Jersey Shore” tough guy guido types. The film is a love letter to their home town in Staten Island and they’re very proud that they can show positive characters who are real regular people from the borough. I’ve seen the movie and I can confirm, the message is loud and clear- Staten Island is more than just Snooki. I never did get to talk to Colin Jost. He arrived last and if you’re wondering, yes he looks even more handsome in person. I was hoping to get a classic Colin Jost one liner out of him, but he had time for only two questions from the entire carpet and someone used one of those questions to ask Colin to tell a joke.
After letting my assistant Anthony know he looks great, and that he should brush his teeth when he gets home, I finally get to talk to real Saturday Night Live super star, the very very very very very funny Bobby Moynihan. Bobby plays “Skootch” in the movie, the head lifeguard, and he is a scene stealer. Bobby talked about what a blast he had making the movie with all his SNL buddies, and loved having some time to improv with them that wasn’t in a hurry while they spent three weeks of long days at a Staten Island pool complex. Bobby used to be a lifeguard, so making the movie felt like just hanging out, he said. Bobby also told me that the initial plan for the movie was to have Colin Jost play his younger self, with Bobby playing his best buddy, but they realized no one would have believed that. After I finished talking with Bobby I asked Anthony how I did. He told me “good”. Thanks Anthony.
By the time I saw Staten Island Summer’s director Rhys Thomas making his way over, I’m feeling like I’ve got the hang of this carpet thing. I’m going to nail this one. I ask him how he managed to make the movie resonate so well with people of all ages. Rhys said “I wanted to make the movie as timeless as possible. I didn’t want it to seem super contemporary. I didn’t want people checking their phones and Facebook and texting. We eliminated all of that and made it more about being in the moment with your friends. For me what it was about was appreciating your last week at home before you go off to college or go off and be an adult. I think that’s something everybody can identify with.” I follow up with a question about working with a group of people he knows so well from working on Saturday Night Live, and he told me that it couldn’t have made for an easier experience. “I don’t think I could have asked for a softer introduction to filmmaking.”
As Rhys walked on to the next interview, I was 100% confident that I had asked great questions and got great answers. I brag to the reporter next to me that I killed it and even thought about whether a mic drop was in order. Then I heard the guy behind me interview him, and now I’m completely convinced his was better, so I spend five minutes wondering if I’m just a big fatto. I’m thinking I’m the Christian Laettner of the carpet. Boo.
Lorne Michaels is a rock star. He arrived fashionably late with a full entourage around him, and the room went crazy. He didn’t answer questions, but that’s okay he’s Lorne Michaels. Anthony got to stand near him so that was cool. I hope Anthony brushed his teeth. You don’t stand next to Lorne Michaels without fresh breath.
Everyone I talked to loved making this movie and said that the SNL cast members were a dream to work with. It honestly sounded like the cast had as much fun making the movie as their characters had spending their last week of Summer at a Staten Island pool party.