Dishing with Dee: Scandal casts a shadow over the Queens Film Festival

By Dee Richard

Is the Queens International Film Festival a phony, fraudulent scam created by two highly skilled grifters? I remember seeing a movie a number of years ago called “The Grifters.” As entertainment, it was great fun, but not so amusing when it happens to you or a friend of yours.

Case in point: My friend, Texan Kerry Wallum of Fast Talk’n Productions, took a $27,000 bath trying to promote his film at the Queens Film Festival. No matter what financial bracket you find yourself in, it’s heavy-duty money to throw away.

It seems Mary Castaldo and her ex-husband, Richard Castellano, the festival promoters, have a lot of explaining to do about their reported failure to pay contracted workers at past festivals.

Of course my friend, Kerry, when apprised of the situation, withdrew his personal film entry from the festival. Both he and his friend, Chris Kristofferson, drove up to Woodstock to personally present Levon Helm with his award in order to spare him, as well as themselves, from any further losses or embarrassments.

I’d been looking forward to attending the festival, with its numerous events, fabulous parties and interesting people. But it apparently was not meant to be. It’s too bad, as it was lots of fun last year.

We hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving. Sorry to say, I didn’t. On Sunday, four days before Thanksgiving, my husband Jimmy said he didn’t feel well and wanted to see the doctor. His regular cardiologist, Dr. Fred Vagnini, who happens to have a radio show on WOR Sundays, was not available. But Dr. Eric Braverman of Path Medical Center, his alternative medicine physician, is available Sundays.

Braverman took one look at Jimmy, listened to his heart and said, “Don’t waste anymore time speaking with me. We’ll call an ambulance.” Since Braverman’s office is in Manhattan, he would have been taken to a nearby hospital. Jim wanted to be a hospital in Queens, near his home. We drove him to New York Hospital Queens.

It has one of the best cardiac units available, which was started by Dr. Tennet, one of our premier cardiac surgeons. Everything is state of the art. They have stabilized Jimmy, but as of this writing have still not been able to ascertain the cause of his problems, which are an excessive accumulation of fluids in his heart and lungs. He has been there two weeks now and has had every known test, but they are not going to release him until they determine the cause. Say a prayer for him.

Last Sunday night, the Little Neck/Douglaston Lions Club held its annual gala at the New Hyde Park Inn. This year’s honorees were James Wrynn, Man of the Year; Carolyn Karoff, Woman of the Year; and Carolyn Meenan, Lion of the Year. They have done a beautiful job renovating the New Hyde Park Inn.

Last Monday night, the parishioners and other good-hearted people donated lots of food, including frozen turkeys, at the cafeteria of the St. Andrew Avellino School, where a group of volunteers aged 6 to 60 placed an assortment of food in individual shopping bags for distribution to families in need so they could enjoy a nice Thanksgiving dinner.

Some of the folks who donated and packaged the food into the bags were Mary Ann Dorsa of St Andrew’s; John Watch, president of the St. Andrew’s Fathers Club; Dan Halloran, the 19th District city councilman-elect; Paul Vallone; and, of course, our local good guys with hearts of gold: the Northeast Queens United Group.

That’s it for this week.

I look forward to hearing from you with information on people, parties and politics or gossip.

I like receiving your voicemail at 718-746-6484, faxes at 718-746-0066 and e-mail at [email protected].

Till next week, Dee.

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