Tag Archives: boardwalk empire

Binge-Worthy Jersey: Spend National Popcorn Day Streaming a Jersey Marathon

Cold, winter weather is on the way, and Hip New Jersey sees a lot of binge watching in the forecast as well. So, in honor of National Popcorn Day, fill up a tub of popcorn and celebrate with some of the New Jersey based films and shows we found currently streaming!

Chasing Amy

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Streaming on: Netflix, Hoopla

No list about New Jersey and films could ever be complete without Kevin Smith. While several of his films are available for streaming (and some notoriously are not) our pick is Chasing Amy, filmed almost entirely in Red Bank, NJ and Asbury Park. There are many easily recognizable locations, including Jack’s Music Shoppe, which still stands and is neighbors with Smith’s own comic shop.

Plot: Holden and Banky are comic book artists and best friends. But their relationship and sanity are tested when Holden falls for Alyssa, also a comic book artist who is also a lesbian.

 

American Gangster

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Streaming on: Netflix

While many of the scenes take place in New Jersey were actually filmed in New York, the morgue scene was filmed at the NJ Army National Guard Armory in Morristown, New Jersey.

Plot: Based on the true story of Richie Roberts, an outcast New York City cop charged with bringing down Harlem drug lord Frank Lucas.

 

Beautiful Mind

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Streaming on: Amazon Prime

Another biographical film, starring Russel Crowe – this time filming at many locations in New Jersey,  such as Princeton University, Paulus Hook (Jersey City), the Center for Molecular Medicine in BelleVille, Fairleigh Dickinson in Madison and Prudential Hall in Newark.

Plot: John Nash, a brilliant but asocial mathematician, accepts secret work in cryptography, but instead finds himself on a painful and harrowing journey of self-discovery.

 

Cinderella Man

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Streaming on: Showtime

If you have a New Jersey-based biographical film, clearly Russel Crowe is the go-to leading man. While the movie itself was filmed in Ontario, Canada, boxer James Braddock has deep ties to New Jersey. His nicknames included the Bulldog of Bergen and the Pride of New Jersey. He is buried in Tenafly, New Jersey and James J. Braddock North Hudson County Park in North Bergen, New Jersey is named in his honor .

Plot: During the Great Depression, underdog James Braddock, a washed-up boxer desperate to support his family stages a comeback, becoming a symbol of hope for the nation.

 

The Wrestler

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Streaming on: Starz

Filmed almost exclusively in New Jersey, some of the more recognizable spots in this drama are the Stiletto Club in Carlstadt, Dover Ballroom in Dover, and Frenchy’s Bar & Grill in Roselle Park. Other filming locations include Asbury Park, Linden, Rahway, and Bayonne.

Plot: Retired wrestler, Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson deals with the difficulty of leaving behind his beloved wrestling career and attempts to make real connections with the world outside the arena.

 

Sopranos

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Streaming on: HBO GO, HBO NOW, and Amazon Prime

After six seasons, its hard to imagine an area of New Jersey untouched by the series. Some of the more well-known spots include Satin Dolls gentleman’s club in Lodi, Irvine-Cozzarelli Memorial Home in Belleville, Pizzaland in North Arlington and the Soprano’s home in North Caldwell.

Plot: Tony Soprano, a New Jersey-based  Italian-American mobster tries to balance his family life with his role as the leader of a criminal organization.

 

Boardwalk Empire

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Streaming on: HBO GO, HBO NOW, and Amazon Prime

While the show was filmed primarily in New York and some of the locations are fictional, the titular Boardwalk is that of Atlantic City and the politics are real. This change of scenery is largely because of the modernization of Atlantic City and surrounding areas, although they were tempted to use Asbury Park for a while.

Plot: In Prohibition-era New Jersey, politicians play both sides of the law, working with mobsters and gangsters to profit from bootlegging in the area.

The Sopranos

The Sopranos at 20: Vincent Curatola Looks Back

By: Lisa Marie Latino

On January 10, 1999, Bill Clinton was President. A singer named Britney Spears was two days away from dropping her first pop single, …Baby One More Time. The Twin Towers in New York City stood tall, oblivious to the bull’s-eye set upon them. And a New Jersey gangster named Tony Soprano rambled down a North Caldwell driveway and into our homes, where he electrified—and terrified—us for six glorious seasons on HBO’s The Sopranos.

Twenty years ago, I wasn’t even allowed to watch The Sopranos. My parents tried their best to shield their high school freshman daughter from the sex, violence and overall debauchery of the show’s tragically flawed characters. But the buzz around these Italian-Americans from New Jersey was too seductive for me to ignore, and I found ways to sneak in viewings whenever possible.

Like many people around the world, I consider The Sopranos to be the best drama in the history of television. EVERYTHING about the production was top notch—the writing, acting, even the music selections. When James Gandolfini passed away in 2013, I cried as if it were a legitimate member of my family who had died. That’s how scary-good this ensemble was.

To commemorate The Sopranos‘ 20th anniversary, I spoke with Englewood born and current Upper Saddle River resident, actor Vincent Curatola (“John Sacrimoni”, otherwise known “Johnny Sack”), to get his thoughts on this major milestone.

LML: When the show first started, did you expect the legend of Johnny Sack to grow as it did?
VC: It was only supposed to be a one-time gig. My first episode was “Pax Soprana” [Episode 6, Season 1], where Tony commissioned Johnny to help him broker a crooked deal with Uncle Junior for Hesh. But once the series got picked up, they asked me back, and it took off from there.

LML: The backbone of the show was the brilliant writing of series creator David Chase. What was it like working with such high caliber material?
VC: You said it yourself, Lisa. The writing was tremendous, like a hot knife through butter. He painted such a vivid picture for us actors, so it was easy to deliver exactly what he wanted.

LML: Is there a specific episode, or moment, that stands out to you?
VC: There’s a scene where Tony and Johnny meet in Newark, and Tony backs out of the hit on New York boss Carmine Lupertazzi. [“Whitecaps”, Episode 13, Season 4]. It was very intense, for many reasons. I had eight pages of dialogue to work with, which is a huge amount for one scene. Jimmy and I filmed it on a very hot, August night in Newark, and that just added to the emotional burden of the conversation. Tony and Johnny always had a mutual respect—a friendship even—so I had to balance that with Johnny’s frustration and disappointment.

I really don’t watch the show, but since it’s been on for the anniversary, I’ve caught some episodes. Each scene carries a unique set of memories.

LML: Some of the most disturbing Johnny Sack moments for me were when he was dying from lung cancer. What kind of preparation goes into playing impending death so convincingly?
VC: I’m a member of the Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation Board of Trustees, and when the writer for the episode [Terence Winter, who later went on to create Boardwalk Empire] explained what he had in mind, I introduced him to the hospital’s oncology department. Together with Hackensack, Terence flushed out what Johnny’s symptoms would be, what medication he would be taking, and what his final stages of life would look like. Every aspect of the show was treated with the closest attention to detail, another reason that made it so special.

Also in that episode [“Stage 5”, Episode 14, Season 6], I had the honor of working with the late Sydney Pollack. That was an unforgettable experience.

LML: The Sopranos is anything but politically correct. Do you think the show would have survived had it debuted now, in our current pop culture climate?
VC: Certainly. David Chase is a very independent thinker, and I don’t think his ideas would have been swayed by the outrage mob. Back then, we had to deal with complaints from certain Italian-American groups accusing us of making Italians look like criminals. Guess what—there are criminals in every race, religion and nationality! Look at our government—the biggest crooks of all sit in some of the highest parts of office!

But David never backed down, as you saw during the Christopher Columbus episode [“Christopher”, Episode 3, Season 4]. He dug his heels even deeper.

Also, look at his new movie [the upcoming Sopranos prequel, The Many Saints of Newark]. I don’t know too much about it, but I know part of the focus will be the racial tension brought on by the Newark Riots. These are still subjects that are very sensitive to some today, but knowing the sharpness of David’s pencil, he will navigate through all of that just fine.

LML: How is your relationship with the cast today?
VC: We were close then, and we have remained close. I had met Jimmy Gandolfini 3-4 years prior to The Sopranos at a little club in New York City called Marylou’s, where a lot of actors would hang out. Being two guys from Jersey, we clicked. That’s where I also met Tony Sirico and Michael Imperioli years before the show. But we’re always around each other, whether it just be for dinner or for an appearance. And while it’s hard to not have Jimmy here, we know he’s with us in spirit.

A very famous celebrity, who was a big fan of the show, once told me that he considered The Sopranos to be The Beatles of television. Different genre obviously, but same similarity as far as changing the game. And we really did—together. That’s a bond that will never break.

LML: You’re talking to me while on set for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. How did The Sopranos help your career?
VC: It’s funny, I haven’t been typecast a mobster or anything like that. If anything, it’s gone the other way. I’ve played judges [on SVU and The Good Wife], cops [Blue Bloods] and even the Mayor of Boston in Patriot’s Day with Mark Wahlburg.

I also sing with a five piece jazz band, and we play lots of dates in New Jersey. That’s been a lot of fun. 

LML: I can’t end this interview without talking about The Ending. What do you think happened to Tony at the end of the series?
VC: I honestly think David just closed the door and didn’t let the audience see inside anymore. I don’t believe the family was murdered or anything like that.

The night of the finale, the cast was together doing an appearance. Five minutes before the show ended, they ushered us into a room so we could watch the ending. WE didn’t even know how it was going to end—even Jimmy!—so we were all very interested. When the scene cut to black, all of our cell phones were going off with people freaking out that their cable went out. But to me, it was typical David Chase.

Newark’s Christina Jackson on “Outsiders” and “Boardwalk Empire”

Newark resident and rising star Christina Jackson sat down with Steve Adubato on “One-on-One” to discuss her new television series on WGN, “Outsiders,” her role on the hit HBO series, “Boardwalk Empire,” and why she chooses call Brick City her home.

Jackson says there was not one particular moment when she knew she wanted to act. Still, she says that she “can’t remember wanting to do anything before acting came into my life.” Her parents supported her in pursuing anything she wanted to try, and acting was no exception.

While in the seventh grade at Rafael Hernandez in North Newark, a teacher named Ms. Bland changed everything. Jackson recalls standing in the school’s hallway and seeing the Ms. Bland approach her. The teacher looked at her and said, “Hey kid, do you want to join the drama club?”

Jackson joined the drama club and was cast as Frenchie in Grease. “I did not know any of my lines, I was terrible,” she recalls. “After that, I said I will never forget a line like that again.” A few months later, she was cast as Annie.

Jackson thanks Ms. Bland for helping her find her place. She couldn’t play basketball and was not interested karate, so joining the drama club enabled her to think that acting was a possibility for her.

Jackson currently lives in Newark, a fact that she is proud of. “There is a shift that is happening Newark.” She recalls seeing places that crimes once took place, where cafes and coffee shops now stand.  “There is change happening and I want that to include the residents who have been here.”

Check out Christina Jackson as Maybelle White on “Boardwalk Empire” on HBO, and be sure to watch “Outsiders” Tuesday nights, 9/8 Central on WGN.