By Tammy Scileppi
‘Tis the season to party! And, while you’re getting ready to ring in 2019, why not take a moment to look back and reflect.
Here in Queens, we’ve been privileged to host some top-notch events featuring stars from different generations.
Paul Simon wrapped up his historic farewell concert at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, a Bayside actress made her silver screen debut, and a nostalgic indie film brought back memories for many TimesLedger readers.
“The holiday season is a special time and Queens is a special place,” said QEDC Tourism Director Rob MacKay.
Like “American Graffiti,” “Cruise” — which made its New York City debut at the Kew Gardens Cinemas recently – may have reminded folks that you can’t stay 17 forever.
A coming of age story set in Whitestone during the summer of 1987, the indie film centers around Italian-American family values and teen Gio Fortunato’s (Spencer Boldman) mostly sexual escapades. His character is loosely based on executive producer Gino Cafarelli, who plays Gio’s dad opposite Kathrine Narducci (HBO’s “Wizard of Lies,” “The Sopranos”), his screen wife. Emily Ratajkowski (“We Are Your Friends,” “Entourage,” “Gone Girl) plays Gio’s girlfriend.
“The film was inspired by me and my nights and days cruising ‘Franny Lew’ — Francis Lewis Boulevard. My neighborhood back in the day was like the nights of ‘American Graffiti,’” said Cafarelli, who grew up in Flushing. “That was how many young people connected with each other in those days. Our social media in the ‘80s and early ‘90s was Francis Lewis.”
You may have seen Cafarelli on “Blue Bloods,” “CSI,” “Dexter,” “Boardwalk Empire,” and “Nurse Jackie,” to name a few. He was cast as Vinny Pitts in an episode of “The Sopranos.”
The actor is featured in Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” as Mayor Frank Rizzo of Philadelphia, in a scene in which he attends an event thrown by Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) for Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro). The movie is set for release in 2019.
It was an amazing year for Bayside actress Elyse Price. She made her debut on the silver screen after catching director Usher Morgan’s eye to play the lead in his new neo-noir film, “Pickings,” about the feud that develops between a crime family and an actual family.
As fate would have it, her boyfriend Joel Bernard got a leading role in the movie as well.
“We both grew up in Bayside, attended Queens College, spent years all over the place – California, Canada, Ireland, Moscow – and after all these years, we have the privilege of returning to our hometown. Talk about full circle. It is surreal,” Price said.
“Pickings” opened at select theaters across the country back in March. Did you catch the premiere in Whitestone?
A full moon shone in the September sky when Queens boy Paul Simon, 76, bid adieu to his fans after performing their favorite songs. He told the cheering crowd:
“This is two miles from where I played high school baseball,” he told the crowd at Forest Hills Stadium.
While these incredible stories, along with countless others that came through Queens this year, are in the past, we can expect more of the same in our borough in 2019.