Column: Filming of the ‘The Irishman’ comes to Williston Park

Column: Filming of the ‘The Irishman’ comes to Williston Park
Al Pacino in Williston Park greeting some fans after a take on the film "The Irishman." (Photo provided by Tom Ferraro

Anyone who strolled down Hillside Avenue on Wednesday Nov. 29 got a glimpse of Hollywood royalty with names like Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Ray Romano and Martin Scorsese.

The circus had come to town once again.

Williston Park is getting used to seeing stars walking about town. Last year it was Naomi Watts and Sarah Silverman as The Book of Henry was filmed at Hildebrand’s.

This year we get a treat by watching the greatest actors on earth once again settle into Hildebrandt’s to make another major film entitled “The Irishman” about the life and times of Jimmy Hoffa.

I knew I would never get close enough to chat up Al Pacino or Robert DeNiro but I figured I would do what Gay Talese did in his famous piece for Vanity Fair.

Talese was assigned to do a feature piece on Sinatra for Esquire Magazine but soon realized that he could gain no access to Old Blue Eyes.

Sinatra did not want nor did he need the press.

So what Gay Talese did was observe and interview all the body guards and buddies that surrounded Sinatra and eventually produced what was to be the finest piece of magazine journalism about a celebrity ever written entitled “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold.”

My plan was to get a word with some extras that were all over town that day.

The first guy I approached was Al Pacino’s driver. He was this uber cool looking dude with a swirling white goatee, cigarette in his mouth and one of those great looking hats that Bruno Mars always wears.

He told me his first career was owning some car dealerships in California.  From there he got into driving for film actors including Tom Hanks, Sarah Jessica Parker and Pacino.

He told he was always asked to drive these stars to the sets because he has an easy manner about him which relaxes the stars as they get ready for the day of shooting.

At the end of my interview with him he quickly remarked “Of course you can’t divulge or print any of that. Everyone on the set has signed a non-disclosure agreement.”

I assure you Gay Talese was never confronted with that statement.

But I’m a bulldog when it comes to hunting down a story so undaunted I went into Harry’s Deli which was filled with lots of actors in period piece costumes.

I eventually met Jacque Temple who has a role in the film.  Ms. Temple was born and raised in Texas and after getting her degree in mass communications she went to Washington D.C. where upon she promptly landed a job as Nancy Reagan’s advance person.

She had massive organizational ability which is required for the job. She would have to advance plan every minute, and I mean every minute, of the first ladies trip to any city.  And from that job she wound up hosting a TV show and then went on to film school and now acting.

She is a very busy actor and after this shoot she flies elsewhere to do the TV show Madame Secretary.

The real fun was had in the evening when the cast and crew blocked off a quarter mile stretch on Willis Avenue to shoot a scene outside of Gino’s Restaurant.

I wish I would be able to make a movie about the making of this scene. Here is how it would look.

Camera rolls from high up above Willis Avenue. It is night time. Down below you see a long line of trucks parked along Willis Avenue.

You see police that have stopped traffic and are diverting it away from Willis.

You see many people from the town with their kids lined up behind barricades and watching with keen curiosity as a movie scene unfolds,

You see wonderful antique cars from the ’50s and ’60s zooming up and down Willis Avenue with some men who looked like lawyers from the ’50s scurrying along on the sidewalk.

The huge lights are so bright that night time looks like day time.

On the sidelines you see lots of men with clip boards and expensive looking camera buried behind the lens. You hear a man yell “Roll Em!” which cues the bystanders into silence and the cars into action.

And through it all the mesmerized audience on the sidelines watch throughout the cold evening as Hollywood magic is created. How dearly expensive it is to recreate a simple scene that took place some 50 years ago.

How dearly expensive it is to return to the past if just for a minute. This cast and crew act like time machines and give us a glimpse of our forgotten past. How sweet it was to watch this happen.

I think the music I would use to create my movie about this movie would be the music Francois Truffaut used at the beginning of Day for Night.

Who knew how dazzlingly, complex and beautiful it is to make a film.

Thank you Mr. Scorsese, Mr. Pacino, Mr. DeNiro, Ms. Temple and all the rest of you for bringing the magic circus to our little town once again….

No posts to display


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here