Joe Cervasio and Ralph Greco are now circulating their latest draft of the screenplay adaptation of Joe's novel, Bad News on the Doorstep. The comments are most encouraging as experienced writers, producers, and actors join lay readers in giving their impressions.
A Literary Option Agreement was presented to Ralph and Joe in late 2012 by a film production company, and the writers are considering this sincere offer.
A late Fifties period piece, the screenplay is turning out to be more than a coming of age, sports, family epic depicting middle class life in ethinic New Jersey at the end of this enigmatic decade. Rather, the most perceptive of readers see the screen rendition as a less than subtle metaphor for the end of a cherished decade through the local as well as national events shaping individuals, families, and an entire country in 1959.
The novel can be previewed at www.amazon.com , www.barnesandnoble.com or in entries in this blog/website under Bad News on the Doorstep. Beware: the story arc of the screenplay takes its own journey back into more of the real life experiences emanating from the events that originally inspired Cervasio's fictionalized memoir.
Stay tuned, but here is a recent update:
BAD NEWS ON THE DOORSTEP,
by Joseph Rocco Cervasio and Ralph Greco
The reason you are receiving this announcement of the marketing of BAD NEWS ON THE DOORSTEP, The Screenplay, is because you have either expressed interest in the project, have already contributed in some way to its evolution, or have been recommended as a potential participant in its ultimate production. You may be a Producer, Investor, Director, Actor, Writer, Editor, Agent, or Musical, Casting, or media talent; or in the end, you may simply be a friend, family member, or fan of the genre this production represents. Regardless, given the release of our most recent screenplay draft, we are motivated to share our creation with you.
If after you read what is below you have questions or would like to express your interest in being a part of the production of this screenplay in one way or the other, make either or both of the following contacts:
- JOSEPH ROCCO CERVASIO AT firstname.lastname@example.org , 972-725-8713 (mobile), 973-235-1415 (home). Joe lives in Nutley, NJ.
- RALPH GRECO AT email@example.com , 818-430-6884 (mobile). Ralph lives in Sherman Oaks, California.
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE WRITERS ARE PRESENTLY CONSIDERING A LITERARY OPTION AGREEMENT PRESENTED TO THEM BY A PRODUCTION COMPANY.
Here’s what has evolved:
In the way of background, BAD NEWS ON THE DOORSTEP is an adapted screenplay based on the novel of the same name by Joseph Rocco Cervasio. The screenplay is a collaboration between Mr. Cervasio and Mr. Greco. Here are some thoughts relative to the novel, published in 2004:
An American Epic
“Bad news on the doorstep …,” a throwaway line from a long-ago song—Don McLean’s rock ‘n’ roll anthem, “American Pie.” The book is about the desolation of seeing something innocent die, and then reaching down for a deeper lesson and carrying on. Indeed, McLean sang about the day the music died. Perhaps in 1959, … more died than just the music. But as many have come to know, for a rebirth to occur, there must first be a death.
This is an encyclopedic novel of an Italian-American neighborhood in New Jersey in the 1950s. In its pages you will learn everything about everyone who lived there, until you know them all as friends and family members. At the end of the book, you will not want to say goodbye to any of them.
You can watch The Godfather or Goodfellas for the gangster cartoons of immigrant life. But if you want to touch the Italian-American heart and witness its sweetest passing moment, you must begin here, at the doorstep.
BAD NEWS ON THE DOORSTEP is a fictionalized memoir, the story of three events affecting the residents of Belleville, New Jersey at then end of the Fifties:
- An unforgettable high school football game, now referred to as the “Mud Bowl,” that really took place, during which an extraordinary gesture made by one of the players changed the lives of everyone watching, and even those hearing of it many years thereafter.
- Alleged criminal activity in the area – counterfeit money circulating that has the potential to trip up some of the story’s main characters.
- A national news event – the shocking deaths in an airplane crash in faraway Iowa, of three famous rockers of the 50s: Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper; a tragedy that still haunts many Baby Boomers to this day.
There is no going back on any of these events. That’s the bad news that overtakes the Bonaducci family, and propels the young members into a world of worry and responsibility. Yes, many and much are … “killed softly”, but a new day does dawn.
This is a story of the times – of Dion and the Belmonts, Connie Francis, Frank Sinatra, and so many others. It’s a story about food, faith, music, school, sports, lust, envy, jealousy, hopes, dreams, death, and life. It’s about family and youth culture, and the growing tension between them. Most of all, it’s about the triumph of character in the face of despair.
BAD NEWS ON THE DOORSTEP, the screenplay, like the novel, is a tapestry of life in the late Fifties. More than that, however, it becomes a metaphor for the vanishing of a decade that sees innocence replaced with awareness, maturity, and wisdom. Indeed, the screenplay’s first readers see it as a type of Reiner’s masterpiece, Stand By Me, memorializing the same year of 1959.
Not unlike American Graffiti and Seabiscuit, the movie’s Director and his creative team will weave an epic mix of history and music that will be unforgettable. From Dion and the Belmont’s “I Wonder Why” in the first act, to Don McLane’s haunting “American Pie” in the final scene, viewers’ subconscious minds will be tattooed forever with the impression of … Bad News on the Doorstep.
What makes Bad News on the Doorstep special?
It’s about values that acknowledge the pressures that pull families apart. It is a kind of Peyton Place in reverse: the story of a place and time in which character and courage triumph over sleaze and tawdriness.
Like many of the great “middlebrow” works of American literature—Gone With the Wind, Huckleberry Finn, Our Town—it creates an entire community of characters with vivid personalities. And the screenplay presents Belleville, NJ as a moral universe unto itself, full of worries and aspirations, temptations and dreams. This story is a rich and positive antidote to all the lurid and crime-filled tales of Italian Americans from this era. What stands out is how lovingly the characters are delineated, and with such spiritual energy.
We believe BAD NEWS ON THE DOORSTEP is more than just a novel and a screenplay. It is a framework for an extended television drama vehicle as well, like West Wing, The Sopranos, Northern Exposure, … or even Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire. It has that kind of feel and depth to it. Perhaps the ground it cultivates has even been prepared by another recent masterpiece, Friday Night Lights.
Here are some reviews of the novel:
Ed Marinaro, (All American football player and Emmy Award-winning cast member of “Hills Street Blues” and “Sisters”): “ ‘Happy Days’ and ‘Laverne and Shirley’ meet the ‘Sopranos’ in Joe Cervasio’s entertaining read.”
Outstanding Read, April 23, 2005
There are times when a book has a certain impact upon a reviewer; it strikes a cord, brings a smile, a memory renewed that had been deeply buried; this is what Mr. Cervasio's outstanding work has done for me. Growing up in New Jersey, born to an Italian American father, this book was almost like going home. The story takes place in the 1950's in the city of Belleville, where we are introduced to the Bonaducci family; dad, Rocky, mom, Marietta, and their three children, Jo Jo, Frank and Donna.
In this read, we have a dash of some mob temptations, a historical football game where a difficult decision was made, and even a splash of the world of entertainment, all touching this family and helping to sculpture their lives in the decisions they make and their relationships one to another.
The descriptions of the different locals that you travel to are vivid and add much to the story, and Mr. Cervasio does an excellent job in portraying the mindset of the time; and the happenings of the era.
A whole universe in a single book, February 2, 2005
Don't look the wrong way at this book just because it's a publish-on-demand project. What it is is quite remarkable: an epic description of what life was like, growing up Italian-American in northern New Jersey in the 1950s. I was hornswoggled by the depth and accuracy of the people depicted I this book, and the grand adventure that sweeps an entire community along.
… and some comments about the screenplay:
Eric ________, screenplay writer:
“Just a quick note, I read the screenplay. It’s great. Really loved it. The dialog is superb. The story stuck with me for days afterwards. It also made me do what all good movies make me do, which is research more information on the subject matter. Read a lot about Dion and the Belmonts afterwards. I'm going to read it again before giving you more detailed notes. Very impressed. Great work.”
Andrew Davis, producer:
“I finished your screenplay today--congrats, it's really good! The ending almost had me tearing up, no joke.”
Fran Ganguzza, producer:
“I wanted to let you know I truly enjoyed reading your script, Bad News on the Doorstep. It was a heartwarming story which rings home for me. I felt a deep connection to many of the characters as if I have met them all before and was intrigued to find out more about each one of them.
“Being Italian American myself, I felt as if I was sitting at my dining room table talking with my relatives…Your dialogue was spot on…and very believable. So Kudos!
I loved the retrospective look at this simpler, yet enriching time, and you, indeed, captured a moment that I believe WAS the beginning of change for a generation.”
Steve Schirripa, actor (“The Sopranos”):
“I really like the story. With the right execution, this will be a great film"
Frank Vincent, actor, musician (“Raging Bull,” “Goodfellas,” “Casino,” “The Sopranos,” etc.):
“You’ve got something here. The music will be important.”
SO, IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SPEAK TO EITHER MR. CERVASIO OR MR. GRECO, CONTACT THEM AT THE LOCATIONS MENTIONED AB