BIG NIGHT is a heartwarming yet bittersweet story of two brothers in search of the American dream. Primo and Secondo Pilaggi are Italian immigrants who settle on the New Jersey shore and open a restaurant, the Paradise, hoping to strike it rich.
Primo, the elder brother, is a master chef from the Old World who is concerned only with quality and authenticity in his kitchen. Secondo, the younger brother and business manager, is all too eager to compromise if it means more customers and more cash. Teetering on the brink of failure, the brothers learn that famed Italian-American musician Louis Prima is performing in the area and they contrive to host a dinner in his honor at the Paradise.
Hoping that a "big night" built around a celebrity like Prima will get them publicity, the brothers pool all their talent, energy and every cent they have to plan a sumptuous banquet of unsurpassed ambition. What follows is a culinary adventure that will teach them a lot about themselves, each other, and their different definitions of life, love and success
Tony Shalhoub (of NBC's "Wings") stars as Primo and Stanley Tucci (of ABC's ("Murder One") stars as Secondo. Together they head a large ensemble cast that includes Isabella Rossellini ("Blue Velvet," "Immortal Beloved"), Minnie Driver ("Circle of Friends"), Ian Holm ("Chariots of Fire," "Alien") and Campbell Scott ("Singles," "The Sheltering Sky"). Salsa singing sensation Marc Anthony and talented New York stage actress Allison Janney round out the cast.
BIG NIGHT marks the directorial debut of both Tucci and Scott, who are billed as co-directors. The film is based on an original screenplay that Tucci wrote with his cousin, Joseph Tropiano, and was produced by Jonathan Filley. Associate producers are Oliver Platt, Elizabeth Alexander and Peter Liguori.
The film was premiered in the 1996 Sundance Film Festival during which co-writers Stanley Tucci and Joseph Tropiano received the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award.
Stanley Tucci portrays Secondo, the younger, more practical brother and business
manager searching for the American Dream.
Tucci is one of the most recognizable character actors working today. His list of film credits includes Barbet Schroeder's "Kiss of Death," Alan Rudolph's "Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle," Alan J. Pakula's "The Pelican Brief" and Robert Benton's "Billy Bathgate."
On television, he has appeared on "Equal Justice," "thirtysomething" and "Wise Guy." He was a series regular on Fox' "Urban Anxiety" and NBC's "Revealing Evidence." He was recently seen in the recurring role as Richard Cross, the suave and sophisticated murderer on ABC's critically-acclaimed "Murder One." Tucci has also appeared in an extensive array of on-and-off Broadway theater productions.
In BIG NIGHT, Tucci also moves behind the scenes for the first time as co director and co-screenwriter.
Tony Shalhoub plays Primo, the chef extraordinaire and older brother who is
resistant to American ways.
Shalhoub is best known for his role as the Italian cab driver, Antonio, in the NBC hit series "Wings." However, he has a long and profound filmography, which includes Fred Schepisi's "I.Q.," Norman Rene's "Longtime Companion," Joel and Ethan Coen's "Barton Fink," Steve Zaillian's "Searching for Bobby Fisher" and Barry Sonnenfeld's "Addams Family Values."
On Broadway, Shalhoub appeared in the Tony Award-winning play "Conversations With My Father," and the Pulitzer Prize-garnerer "The Heidi Chronicles," both directed by Daniel Sullivan. His off-Broadway credits include Norman Rene's "For Dear Life," and "Zero Positive," presented by The Public Theater, as well as "Henry IV, Part 1 " and "Richard III," both produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival.
Isabella Rossellini appears as the stunning Gabriella, who is enarmored by both
Pascal and Secondo.
The daughter of director Roberto Rossellini and Ingrid Bergman, Rossellini has enjoyed successful careers as a journalist, super model and acclaimed actress. Her silver screen debut was in 1976, at the age of 24, as a walk-on in Vincente Minnelli's "A Matter of Time," followed in 1979 by a leading role in "The Meadow," directed by the Taviani Brothers.
Her American film debut was in "White Nights," followed by roles in David Lynch's "Blue Velvet," Robert Zemeckis' "Death Becomes Her," Peter Weir's "Fearless," "Immortal Beloved" and, with Campbell Scott, in John Schlesinger's "The Innocent." She will soon grace the screen in Abel Ferrarra's "The Funeral."
Ian Holm appears as Pascal, the wily restaurateur across the street.
Hailing from Britian, he is an award-winning character actor. He garnered the British Film Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor with his screen debut in "The Bofors Gun" in 1968, and again for his role in "Chariots of Fire," a performance for which he also won the Best Actor award at Cannes and was nominated for an Oscar.
He has appeared in a variety of film adaptions of classics, including Kenneth Branagh's "Henry V" and "Frankenstein," Franco Zeffirelli's "Hamlet," Steve Soderbergh's "Kafka" and Peter Hall's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," as well as several popular films, including "Dance with a Stranger," Ridley Scott's "Alien" and Terry Gilliam's "Brazil" and "Time Bandits," Woody Allen's "Another Woman," and David Cronenberg's "Naked Lunch." Holm was soon be featured in Sidney Lumet's upcoming "Night Falls on Manhattan."
Minnie Driver portrays Phyllis, the lovely American girlfriend of Secondo.
An accomplished British stage and screen actress, Driver made a stunning debut in her first American film "Circle of Friends." Her other film credits include the James Bond-thriller "Goldeneye," Ross Cramer's "God on the Rocks" and Damiano Vukotic's "That Sunday." Her next role is in the upcoming all-star drama from Barry Levinson, "Sleepers."
Marc Anthony portrays Cristiano, Primo's assistant in the kitchen.
A double-platinum Salsa star, Anthony is also carving a name for himself in movies, having appeared in "The Substitute" and "Hackers." He recorded his first single at the age of 19, "Ride on the Rhythm," which jumped to the top of the Billboard Charts in 1991. In 1993, he recorded "Otra Nota" which was one of the year's top-selling albums, earning him double-platinum status. His 1995 follow up, "Todo a su Tiempo," (All in Due Time), was nominated for a Grammy for best tropical Latin performance.
Campbell Scott appears as the charismatic Cadillac salesman who Secondo
invites impetuously to the party.
Scott first gained recognition for his role in "Longtime Companion" and next was next cast in Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Sheltering Sky." Other credits include Joel Schumacher's "Dying Young," "Singles" and "Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle."
The son of George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst, BIG NIGHT marks his directorial debut.
Allison Janney plays Ann, the object of Primo's affections.
A well known New York stage actress, she has also appeared in movies, including "Wolf," "Miracle on 34th Street" and "Walking and Talking," directed by Nicole Holefcener, which was premiered in the 1996 Sundance Film Festival. Janney is currently shooting Howard Stern's "Private Parts" on location in New York. On stage, she has been featured in serveral Manhattan Theatre Club productions, including New England" and "Blue Window," and the Naked Angel production of "Fat Men in Skirts," starring Marissa Tomei and Stanley Tucci. She was also a member of the Actors Goup of New York, where she appeared in "Velvet Elvis," directed by Joanne Woodward.
Joseph Tropiano is co-screenwriter with his cousin Stanley Tucci. BIG NIGHT
is his first film.
Tropiano studied at Yale University, where he majored in English. While there, he sang with an all-male a cappela group and performed in various musical theater productions. Following Yale, he did graduate work at Columbia University's Oscar Hammerstein Center for Theater Studies, where he received the Richard Rodgers scholarship. He worked as a public relations writer at The Washington Post, WNET/Thirteen and at an agency specializing in television publicity, with clients ranging from Bill Moyers to the critically-acclaimed CBS series "Picket Fences."
Jonathan Filley earned his first producer credit on BIG NIGHT.
As a succesful production manager, his credits include Woody Allen's "Bullets Over Broadway," Steven Zaillian's "Searching for Bobby Fischer" and "Honeymoon in Vegas." Before that, he was location manager on Sydney Pollack's "Tootsie," Alan Parker's "Angel Heart," Gene Saks"'Brighton Beach Memoirs" and Mike Nichols' "Regarding Henry." He has also been a location manager for Woody Allen, hunting down locations in and around New York for "Broadway Danny Rose," "Purple Rose of Cairo," "Another Woman" and "Crimes and Misdemeanors," among others. Filley also served as associate producer on "Guarding Tess" and executive produced "Let It Be Me."
Ken Kelsch is director of photography.
After a four-year stint in the United States Arrny Special Forces, he received a masters degree in fine arts at New York University in 1977 and two years later was director of photography on Abel Ferrarra's DRILLER KILLER. Following that, he was a cinematographer for Cable News Network, as well as a lighting director and director of photography for several Showtime and The Movie Channel specials. He paired with Ferrara again on "The Bad Lieutenant," "Dangerous Game," "The Addiction" and "The Funeral." He was also director of photography on the "Killer," starring James Woods.
Andy Jackness is production designer.
Jackness has left his decorative mark on Broadway, in the opera houses and on the big screen. His first stint as production designer was on Broadway, in 1979, for "Wings," directed by John Madden. Following that, he did the design on Austin Pendelton's "John Gabriel Borkman." Other Broadway design credits include Pendelton's "The Little Foxes," starring Elizabeth Taylor, "Spoils of War," Norman Rene's "Precious Sons" and "Grownups."
He also fashioned the sets for operas, including "Frida," presented by the Houston Grand Opera; "Savageland," for the Washington Opera; and "Cosi Fan Tutti" for the Santa Fe Opera. Jackness has carried many of his stage collaborations over to the screen, working again with John Madden on "Ethan Frome" and Norman Rene on "Longtime Companion, " "Prelude to a Kiss," with Alec Baldwin and Meg Ryan, and "Reckless," starring Mia Farrow.
Deborah J. DiSabatino served as food stylist.
Making her feature film debut on BIG NIGHT, DiSabatino is an accomplished chef and food stylist for television and advertising projects. She received her masters degree in cooking and baking from the Culinary Center of New York, where she also managed the kitchen. She is the regular food stylist for all cooking segments on "Our Home," produced and aired on Lifetime Cable.