Forest Hills native Ray Romano makes directorial debut with ‘Somewhere in Queens’

Ray Romano
Screenshot via Rotten Tomatoes Trailers/YouTube

Forest Hills native Ray Romano will be releasing his comedy drama, “Somewhere in Queens,” April 21, 2023, after directing, writing and starring in the film.

“Somewhere in Queens” follows a simple, blue-collar family, deeply rooted in their Italian American heritage — similar to many Queens natives. Leo Russo, played by Romano, finds himself tearing his family apart trying to turn his son’s successful high school basketball career into a scholarship.

Romano’s son in the movie, “Sticks,” portrayed by Jacob Ward, planned to work for the family construction business until a scout offers the young basketball star options.

“Sticks” portrayed by Jacob Ward, wearing a Glendale basketball jersey. (Screenshot via Rotten Tomatoes Trailers/YouTube)

When girlfriend Dani from Forest Hills, played by Sadie Stanley, breaks up with Sticks, he loses his motivation. Romano’s character attempts to keep his son on track by asking Dani to continue going out with him — a move that inevitably backfires on the well-meaning father.

It’s fair to say that many viewers will resonate with this film — whether it’s someone with Italian American roots, a Queens resident who recognizes their neighborhood, or anyone with an overbearing family that cares just a little too much.

Romano’s family has deep roots in Forest Hills. His mother, Luciana Fortini, grew up and lived on Exeter Street. She graduated from Forest Hills High School in 1945 at the age of 16.

In 1953, she married Albert Romano, a successful engineer and real estate agent. They rented for a brief time on Burns Street. In 1956, while many young families were moving to brand-new homes in suburban Nassau County, they decided to buy a humble 1,590-square-foot house at 70-17 Nansen St.

Romano, born in 1957, went to Archbishop Molloy High School in Briarwood for his freshman and sophomore years. He transferred to Hillcrest High.

Ironically, a few scenes in “Somewhere in Queens” were filmed at one of Molloy’s rival Catholic high schools: Christ the King Regional High School in Middle Village.

In the early 1980s, while studying to be an accountant at Queens College and holding down a series of part-time jobs, Romano started performing stand-up comedy in New York clubs, according to Britannica.

Romano went on to win a citywide comedy contest in 1989, which brought him valuable exposure. In 1990 Romano made his first national television appearance on MTV’s “Half-Hour Comedy Hour,” but it wasn’t until his appearance on the “Late Show with David Letterman” in 1995 that he got his big break.

Letterman had his production company, Worldwide Pants Inc., develop the sit-com “Everybody Loves Raymond” around Romano’s comedy. The first episode aired on Sept. 13, 1996, and a year later it became among the most-watched shows on American television.