Friday, August 15, 2008

ONE MAN'S VIEW OF "DA" BRONX


'Bronx Paradise' writer Wayne Gurman tells an honest Bronx tale, warts and all
Monday, August 11th 2008, 2:30 PM
Alvarez/News
Wrtier Wayne Gurman, 43, and director Bill Lappe, 43, used Lappe's home studio to create 'Bronx Paradise,' a film based on Gurman's life story.

It was not your usual idea of a movie preview.
No famous venue. No red carpet, no swankily dressed celebs. Unless you count Ralph Squillante, a retired cop who plays a mob chieftain in the movie, who was natty in shades and a black-and-white polo.

The writer and star of the film, Wayne Gurman, was clad in what he wears in the movie and what he apparently always wears: flip-flops, baggy shorts and a T-shirt.
A feature-length movie written, directed and produced by some local guys and shot entirely in the Bronx - mostly around E. Tremont Ave. - was to preview on the tiny beach under the Throgs Neck Bridge in Locust Point on a recent Saturday night.
But it started raining and everything was moved inside into the Locust Point Civic Association room.

About 100 people dragged their metal folding chairs into the humid, paneled room and put them in less-than-straight rows. Cigar smoke swirled as people sipped Coronas. A baby dozed in his mother's lap. A man sat by the door with a beefy pit bull on a leash.
This was no politically correct audience. It was a room full of real neighborhood people, and that's exactly who Gurman needed to watch and critique his movie. Because "Bronx Paradise" is no politically correct story.

The star's a nasty protagonist who punches, curses, and road-rages his way through life and every race and ethnic group takes a hit.
One of the movie's catchphrases is, "Just another day in the Bronx baby!"
"It's my life," said Gurman, 43, bald and athletically-built. "I was a cocaine dealer, and a bookie." His trigger-happy best pal in the movie is based on a close, now-deceased friend.
"I miss John dearly," he said. "But he was a racist who killed people."
Gurman said he turned his life around after being arrested nine years ago, avoiding prison and getting another chance.

He says the events and dialogue in the film are true, either experienced by him or based on actual crimes.
He said he was never involved in any real-life murders.
But the streetfights and funny "Goodfellas"-type exchanges that made the audience roar with laughter, he said, were his life, and they do sound just like some Bronx people you might have come across.

Gurman met last week with director Bill Lappe in Lappe's backyard studio to review the audience's comments and possibly make changes in the movie, which he will bring to independent film festivals around the country in hopes of interesting a big-time movie mogul.
Lappe, a retired NYPD detective who has been trying to put the Bronx film industry on the map, hooked up with Gurman by chance. Lappe's friend and collaborator James McSherry spotted Gurman with a video camera outside Paddy Doherty's bar, and Lappe rushed over.

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