Nick Vallelonga, a co-writer on awards season front-runner Green Book alongside Brian Hayes Currie and director Peter Farrelly, is already riding the wave of potential Oscar success and has set up his next project. He will settle into the director’s chair to helm his own script That’s Amore!, which is being described as a musical romantic comedy.
The film revolves around a 40-year-old bachelor who is resigned to working in his family’s pizza restaurant and thinks his best days are behind him. But then he meets Patti Amore, a shy and introverted loner with an overbearing father and a dark secret in her past. The two of them seek to extinguish their emotional frailties and enter into a relationship together.
Both That’s Amore! and Green Book have their similarities, as Vallelonga based Green Book on testimony he drew from his father, Tony Lip Vallelonga, regarding the road trip he and Dr. Don Shirley took through the deep south in 1962. He honoured his father’s wish to make no attempt to turn the story into a film until both men had passed away.
The real Tony Lip was a small-time actor who appeared in many great New York-based films including The Godfather and Goodfellas, and got to know producer Gene Kirkwood during that time, who produced Green Book and will also produce That’s Amore! as well.
Vallelonga had originally planned to direct Green Book for years before turning it over to Farrelly, who was able to cast Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen in the lead roles, and has made it into a major player in the upcoming awards season. That success has made it easier for Vallelonga to get That’s Amore! in development, with financing already in place from private sources.
Vallelonga said of the project:
“The basic story has been in my head for years, but I finally finished the screenplay during breaks in the ‘Green Book’ production. I’m honoured to be working with Gene Kirkwood, the godfather of producers, who recently produced the Grammy-winning documentary The Defiant Ones about Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre. That connection to the current music scene will be put to good use with ‘That’s Amore!'”
If successful on the big screen, Vallelonga hinted that the musical project could be adapted for the stage sometime down the line. That is a long way off though, as they have just begun casting the film, with production planning to begin in New York and New Jersey next year.