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Clint Eastwood uses Broadway stars in film adaptation of 'Jersey Boys'

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Staten Island native Joe Russo may soon become a household name after “Jersey Boys.” The new Clint Eastwood film based on the Clint Eastwood movie inspired from the Broadway show of the same name “Jersey Boys,” a film that stars mostly stage actors will help poise these young men playing “The Four Seasons” on the cusp of stardom. Joe Russo, according to The Staten Island Advance, may soon become a household name. Hollywood Reporter, reporting on the new film “Jersey Boys” said the film took years for Clint Eastwood to finally get the green light to make into a film, according to the report on http://www.hollywoodreporter.com (June 21) today.

In the words of actor Christopher Walken in “Jersey Boys”: "Don't worry—you work hard, and everything follows." Adds Hollywood Reporter in “Jersey Boys” “it's a line that's repeated later in the film, and could also describe the entire movie-musical's mantra. The big-screen adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway production—like Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons themselves—took years to finally lift off, with creatives rotating in and out of the project before being forged forward by director Clint Eastwood, who wore the group's maroon blazer and received a standing ovation when introducing the film at the closing night of the Los Angeles Film Festival.”

Added Eastwood to “Hollywood Reporter”: “He reflected on how the jukebox musical production initially opened for only a string of performances at the La Jolla Playhouse in 2004, and is still on Broadway after nine years. While three of the Four Seasons actors in the film each have "1000-1200 performances under their belt." Eastwood defended his casting choices to The Hollywood Reporter: "People are asking why I didn't use some pseudo Hollywood name—if the picture doesn't work, nothing works, so it doesn't need a name ... but I've been proven wrong before!" He also warned, "For those who haven't seen the play it'll be an interesting experience.”

Added CNN in an article that also appears on www.ew.com: “Nine years ago, Frankie Valli was rescued from oldies-station oblivion with the smash Broadway musical "Jersey Boys." The show chronicles the real-life rise-and-fall-and-rise-again of four crooners from the mobbed-up mean streets of 1960s New Jersey who called themselves the Four Seasons and cranked out a seemingly endless string of hit records, including the love ditty ''Sherry,'' the triumphant ''Walk Like a Man,'' and the bouncy bubblegum bop of ''Big Girls Don't Cry.''

According to CNN the songs are limitless and do not seem to grow old. “The songs are timeless. But so are a lot of songs from that Motown and Phil Spector era. What made the Four Seasons magical was Valli's voice -- an impossibly high-pitched nasal falsetto that sounded like a prepubescent angel who'd huffed a tank of helium.”

He adds: “With "Jersey Boys' " receipts still pouring in on the Great White Way, the notion of adapting the musical into a splashy song-and-dance Hollywood biopic must have been too juicy to resist. In fact, the only thing that might seem surprising about the "Jersey Boys" movie is the man squinting behind the camera, Clint Eastwood. “ The article points out that the biggest problem with the film written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, “never makes a convincing case for why Valli the man or the singer matters beyond the music in the way that "Ray" and "Walk the Line" did for Ray Charles and Johnny Cash. Such are the perils of adapting a somewhat one-dimensional stage show.”

CNN applauds Eastwood’s decision to cast Broadway names for a film based on a stage show. Who can forget when Audrey Hepburn was cast over Julie Andrews in the starring role of Eliza in “My Fair Lady.” Devotees of the stage show thought Audrey Hepburn looked too much like a lady to ever play a woman of the streets. In “The Sound of Music,” the film adaptation of Andrews’ stage show of the same name, she proved to Academy Award audiences and to movie audiences everywhere that a stage performer could carry a major Hollywood movie musical. Andrews won acclaim and an Academy Award for her starring role as Maria in “The Sound of Music.”

Adds CNN: “Fortunately, Eastwood is far wiser on the casting front. As Valli, John Lloyd Young is pretty close to perfection. That's no shocker, really, as he won a Tony in 2006 for his portrayal of Valli on the boards. With his slicked-back pompadour and wardrobe of sharkskin suits, Young looks more like the late Bruno Kirby than Valli. But when he opens his mouth, you believe you're listening to the real deal. He finds every ounce of sweat, aftershave, and salad dressing that made up Valli's one-of-a-kind voice.”

Adds CNN, “As his fellow Four Seasons, Michael Lomenda, Erich Bergen and Vincent Piazza are equally spot-on, even if all of their bada-bing lingo occasionally makes them sound like they're competing in a Chazz Palminteri impersonation contest. (Both Lomenda and Bergen starred in the stage version as well.)”

Staten Island native Joe Russo appears in ‘Jersey Boys’ as actor Joe Pesci

Staten Island Advance adds: “The meathead stage is over. After years of playing beefcake bros in everything from "How I Met Your Mother" to "Bones" to "Parks and Recreation," S.I. native Joseph Russo is about to burst onto the big screen in a major way with a scene-stealing supporting role as Joe Pesci (yes, that Joe Pesci) in Clint Eastwood's A-list film adaptation of the long-running Broadway musical, “Jersey Boys.” For more about actor Joe Russo visit http://www.silive.com

“Eastwood's take on the Tony-winning hit tells the story of four young men from the wrong side of the tracks in New Jersey who came together to form the iconic '60s rock group The Four Seasons. Their trials and triumphs are accompanied by the hit songs that influenced a generation, and are now being embraced by a new generation of fans through the stage musical,” adds The Advance.

“Joe Pesci actually played a pivotal role in the discovery of the film's title characters — aka Frankie Valli and company. Go figure: He also played a digital role in Russo's career. In the cult web series “Turbo and Joey” —co-starring fellow S.I. actor Jeremy Luke, of "Don Jon" and "Mob City," who also have cameos in "Jersey Boys" — the title characters submit a video screen test in a bid to win a role in the fictional Pesci film, "Over My Head." The source material: A recreation of the legendary Pesci-Bobby DeNiro desert meeting scene from Martin Scorsese's "Casino." Joe Russo is not the only Staten islander to play a pivotal role in the film “Jersey Boys.” Renee Marino stars as Valli’s first wife in the film adaptation as well.
Wagner College graduate Renee Marino is co-starring in "Jersey Boys" as Mary Delgado, the first wife of Frankie Valli. “The 2004 Wagner College grad made her Broadway debut in the 2009 revival "West Side Story," before playing the role of Delgado in the national tour of "Jersey Boys" — and on the Great White Way. The talented performer also appeared in the 15th-anniversary tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Cats," "Chaplin," Disney's "High School Musical," Madonna's "Give Me All Your Luvin" video and in a number of commercials,” adds The Advance.

Staten Islanders interested in cheering on the local talent can view “Jersey Boys” at Atrium Stadium Theatres and UA All Staten Island Stadium 16 Theatre. Check your local listings for showtimes and theatres. Enjoy the magic that made “Jersey Boys” a big Broadway smash! If the film is only half as good it still has a lot to offer at a fraction of the price of seeing a big Broadway musical live on the Broadway Stage.

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