Tuesday, June 26, 2007

It's My Birthday - But It's Not My Party, Or Is It?

Ciao a tutti,

It's my Birthday! In know, I know, I have to do something, I have to eat cake, I have to want presents,...

Okay, this is what I am taking about. I had a dear friend, Dorothy, call me, a month or so ago and ask me who I wanted invited to my Birthday party. I said, I wasn't having one, and she said, oh yes I was.

She said that a friend of her daughters was having a milestone birthday party himself on the 24th. Since he and Dorothy's daughter, Tricia, are friends, and he knew that her Birthday was on the 25th, he wanted to include her as well as another friend of his who's birthday was the 25th or something.

So, Dorothy was calling to tell me that they were including me as well in this bash that was going to be held at one of the new hottest nightclubs/outdoor lounges in Marina Del Rey, since it was going to be held two days before my birthday, the 26th. Actually, this was going to be held at "Glow," rated one of the top ten lounges in the whole US.

This is what I told her. I thank you for thinking of me and wanting to celebrate me on, and because of my birthday. But I feel that everyday is like my birthday. Everyday I get to have people call me or write me or E-mail me and tell me how much they like my music, my website, my blog, my show, or whatever, that's like people calling on your Birthday.

Everyday I have people helping me with my business and they give their heart and soul to it. That's like a huge Birthday gift. Whenever I am on stage singing, speaking, doing a show, whatever, when the audience is appreciating it and giving me a standing ovation or clapping after each song, or laughing at my stories, that's like a big party for me.

And I truly feel that way. I like my Birthday, I told her, don't get me wrong, and I would enjoy it being celebrated or celebrating it with my friends. But I said, since Tricia, and the other two people don't get to have what I have or at least don't seem to feel about their lives' what I feel about mine, why have them share it with me, let them have it all to themselves, and I will come and honor and celebrate them.

She said, that she thought what I had just said was wonderful and that it was one of the reasons why she loved me. And we left it at that. I assumed that was a done deal, until I got the invitation and it said, "A Birthday Party for ... and Filippo Voltaggio."

I had to laugh and enjoy the moment. Now the best part was when I got to "Glow" there was a line and a list, and not everyone could get in evidently, "my party" was that popular. I went to the front of the line and said who I was and they didn't find my name on the list, a slight oversight on the party planners part. In short, I was told I couldn't get in.

Now all of a sudden I really wanted to get in and I said, "but, but, I'm the Birthday boy!" And then I laughed at how funny that sounded. In fact I tried to sound funny. Then I remembered the invitation with my name on it.

Boy, did I luck out, "here I said, that is me!" I showed them my ID as well and then we all laughed as they let me in. I laughed the hardest because if Dorothy hadn't put my name on the that invite I guess I would have missed my own Birthday party, or theirs rather.

So, Happy Birthday everyone, especially Tricia, who is the one on my lap that I am holding. These are the only pictures we ended up taking the whole night. I guess we were having way too much fun for any more.

By the way, Happy Birthday in Italian is "Buon Compleanno."


P.S. Here is a video I found on Youtube.com of an adorable child singing the Happy Birthday song in Italian. The words are "Tanti auguri a te, tanti auguri a te, tanti auguri caro (add male name) or cara (add female name), tanti auguri a te." The video is a bit sideways but adorable nonetheless. (In Italian)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

"The Value of Names" - This One Hit Home

Ciao a tutti,

In this post we are going to do something a little different. Since I started this post almost a year ago, I have been writing it all on my own. For the first time, I am going to include a review written by a friend of mine that was written exclusively for this blog.

This is how and what went down. My friend, actress Jodi London, was in town from Chicago to meet with Gary Marshall and see the play he produced, "The Value of Names," at his theater, The Falcon Theater.

While there, she met with Gary in regard to her film, which I will be featured in by the way, and I got to meet and talk with him as well about being on our show "Filippo and the Chef," to which he said, absolutely yes, yeah!

Before I go on, I have to say about the film that Jodi wrote and is going to star in, that has a working title of "Run While You Can." I just want to say that I believe that there is a love scene in the movie between her and I, but she doesn't believe so. I could swear there is, since I read the script. Since she wrote the script she is sure there isn't.

Well, one thing I know for sure, I will be a romantic interest but I cannot say anymore than that. Of course, after reading this, she may write me out of the script completely, he, he.

Okay, so Gary was great, really great and a lotta fun. He reminded me of my Uncle, as a matter of fact, he could be my Uncle. You all know he is Italian-American, right? Yeah, I think the name was actually Marsciarelli or something like that. You also know who he is, right? He's an actor, the producer of "Laverne and Shirley," etc.

So this play, "The Value of Names," hits home, let me tell you. It was based on a Jewish family but it could have been Italian. And speaking of Italian, so there we were minding our own business (right), when who should appear but the producer and creator of one of the most Italian shows on television, "Everybody Loves Raymond," Phil Rosenthal.

Talk about the Jewish play could have been Italian, when I finally spoke to Phil that is what he said, Raymond's story is his story, Raymond's mother is his mother, same thing.

Actually, I first recognized Monica Horan, who played the character Amy in "Everybody Loves Raymond." While I was speaking to her I had to tell her about the episode I like the best, in fact, I am most passionate about it, the one that takes place in Italy.

She stopped me mid-sentence and told me to tell her husband this story. And I said, "why, who's your husband? " Just like that. She said, he's Phil Rosenthal the producer and creator of the show.

I must have turned a shade of red, but there was no time for that, I had to tell him just how much I related to a couple of really poignant scenes in that one-hour special episode.

Some of the scenes in particular touched me in ways which maybe I will share with you all someday. But when I was describing one in particular to Phil, I detected a hint of watery eyes in him and the same happened to me as we connected on this story.

When I finished he told me that, that very scene was his favorite as well and how he spent four weeks on that scene. He shared what he did to create it and what he wanted people to feel. And when he finished, for a moment we were quiet.

I then opened up my arms and we hugged for a good long moment and we thanked each other and then we joined the party in the lobby again.
Even though they had different seats than us, we all ended up sitting together to watch the play.

After the play, Chef Richard came to join us since he had to see me to get something signed or something and he ended up joining in the fun.

Have I said too much? I think I should get to the critique that Jodi wrote now. Let me just splain the pictures you see. The first is of course Gary Mashall with Jodi London and I. Then come the Rosenthal's, Phil and Monica, who also goes by her stage name of Monica Horan.

Then you see Jack Klugman, of "The Odd Couple." Meeting him too was a treat

after seeing him on TV while growing up. He is such a great stage actor too, who knew? And then there I am pictured with the fine actress of the play, Liz Lasen.

And finally, the other leading actor of the play that night and fellow Italian-American, Dan Lauria, who you see pictured here with Richard, of the "Filippo and the Chef" show, and I.

You know Dan from so many things, but most of you would remember him in "The Wonder Years." When the two of them, Dan and Jack, were rumbling on stage, the whole theater shook. What power houses of theater.

There I go, giving a critique when I was going to do something different and let Jodi do the critiquing. So I will sign off now and thank Jodi for a wonderful evening together and for writing this critique for my blog.


"The Falcon Theatre, Burbank, CA: 'The Value of Names' starring Jack Klugman, Dan Lauria, and Liz Larsen. . Bravo to these three actors who delivered a very convincing and entertaining performance! Jack Klugman carried the play with his cynical opposites while his genuine love for his daughter reigned through.

Liz Larsen responded with perfect comedic timing to bring a smile to anyone that has experienced the father-daughter relationship. The struggle to rekindle a long lost friendship is felt heart-deep when Dan Lauria entered the stage. Throughout the evening, the audience bounced between laughter and tears as the characters’ emotions and the storyline unfolded before our eyes. The well written script, the choice of the actors and the warmth of the Falcon theatre where every seat has an excellent view of the stage made my experience a night to cherish!"

-Jodi London

P.S. Since I had the wonderful opportunity to hear Phil Rosenthal describe to me how he created a particular scene for the hit TV series "Everybody Loves Raymond," I thought you all would enjoy an opportunity to hear it from him directly. In this scene I got from Youtube.com Phil and Ray Romano are together on a show called "You're Lucky You're Funny." In this particular clip Phil is describing what the inspiration was for the "Fruit of the month" bit used in one of the episodes. (In English)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Soccer In America Getting More Popular - What A Nice Surprise!

Ciao a tutti,

When I was invited by my friend Tricia to a professional soccer game in Los Angeles, I had to stop and think about it. Soccer in America? I knew there were soccer leagues in America but I had just never thought of going to a game and thanks to Tricia, I did. Actually, I had been to the Olympics when they were in Los Angeles and I saw the US Team play the Italy Team. That was a hard one, who was I to cheer for?

This time it was hard too because though we were in Los Angeles, the people we were guests of were cheering for the visiting team. There were about 20,000 people cheering for Los Angeles and about a hundred of us cheering for Salt Lake. 20,000, can you believe it, and that's before David Beckham joined the Galaxy Team. It's good to see soccer gaining popularity in the US.

In the end, Galaxy beat the Real Salt Lake Team 3 to 2 but that didn't stop our hosts from having a good time, if for no other reason than they had been drinking their "happy juice," and for that matter so had I. (I'll explain that). Actually, how could we not have fun no matter what when you are invited to a game at the Los Angeles Home Depot Center in grand style.

Little did I know that we were guests of Sandy DiGiovanni an Independent Distributor of Xango, with seats in a box, catered, "happy juice," and the whole nine yards.

Evidently, like HerbalLife is a sponsor of the Los Angeles Club, Xango is a sponsor of the Salt Lake Club and to support their team, both on the playing field and in their business, Sherman and Sharonn Unkefer had bought out three boxes at the Stadium.

In fact, they bought out two boxes to thank their underline of Xango distributors and one to donate to their charity of choice. In this case their charity of choice was the very worthwhile Cheshire Project of Los Angeles of which Aras Baskauskas, the million dollar winner of the popular "reality" TV show "Survivor: Panama - Exile Island," Season Twelve.

Before I go any further, what is the "happy juice?" Well, that is what I heard a couple of the distributors call Xango and the name stuck. It is a juice made from the Mangosteen Fruit. I got to meet some of the key players on the Xango sales team and got to drink the juice and join all the happy people in a toast to our health.

By the way, it was Father's Day, and the teams did something really special. They walked out on the field with their children before the game started. Now that was a nice touch.

And speaking of nice touches, I made my way over to the box that was reserved for the Cheshire Project, and met Aras and several of the benefactors of the Unkefer's generous gift and had a great time with all of them. You know me, I had to make my way to the third box too filled with Xango Independent Distributors to see if I could find any Italians, he, he.

There I not only found Sandy's husband, Mike DiGiovanni and their son Johnny, both Italian-Americans, but I learned that two of the Xango company's founders are Italian-American. Now that I know that I think I will have to learn more and do some more reporting in a future post.

In the meantime, above you see in the first picture a moment in the game between the LA Galaxy Team and the Real Salt Lake Team. Below that are our hosts Sherman Unkefer, Sharon Unkefer, and Sandy DiGiovanni, and myself, of course. Immediately below that is a picture of my lovely hostess and I during a moment when we should have been watching the game because we heard cheering and missed one of the bigger plays of the day, he, he. Oh well, we had taken our share of "happy juice," and we were fine.

In the picture above you will find a man who needs no introduction to you die-hard "Survivor" fans, its Aras Baskauskas, and Sandy and I. And finally, the Italians of the bunch in this picture, Mike and Sandy DiGiovanni and their son Johnny.

If you're like me and never thought about going to a soccer game in the States, I would say, give it a try, you might like it. For that matter, you might want to give Xango a try also and see if it makes you "happy" too.


P.S. Speaking of missing some great moments in the soccer game, here are some great moments that you might not want to miss if you are a soccer fan. I got this video off of Youtube.com and some of these are priceless. (In English).

Monday, June 18, 2007

Robert Davi and "The Dukes" - Sounds Like a Doo Wop Group to Me

Ciao a tutti,

I think I mentioned a couple posts ago that Robert Davi invited me a to a private screening of his new movie, not released yet. Well, this past week, I went. The movie was "The Dukes," hence the title of this post. And regarding the Doo Wop comment, that is a hint, but I can't say anymore than that.

The move stars Chaz Palminteri, Peter Bogdanovich and Robert Davi, of course. The movie is produced by Robert and is in fact his directorial debut.

Though I have been sworn to secrecy, I can tell you this, he did a great job and I am sure there will be many more movies coming out directed by him.

Being new at this Hollywood inside stuff I really don't know what I can or can't tell you because the film was in the process of getting distribution at the time of this posting. But I believe I am safe in saying that I enjoyed the film, I laughed at parts, was touched at parts,... and look forward to seeing it again on the big screen when it premiers. Maybe then I can tell you more.

In the meantime, the screening was fun and I went with Chef Richard, my co-host on the Filippo and the Chef Show at www.FilippoandtheChef.com. Chef Richard came bearing gifts. What kind of gifts? Guess.

He brought his famous eggplant Parmesan and vino for some special guests. Now I am sure that this has never happened at a Hollywood screening before, but I bet you, it will happen again, at least when Richard gets invited.

Of course he and the Eggplant were a hit. And it was perfect too because there was a scene in the movie where the actors were eating Italian food, and you could smell Richard's eggplant wafting in the air as if you were there. Oops, was I not supposed to talk about the eating scene?

Yow know that the invention of the recreation of sound effects for a movie in a studio is credited to a man named Jack Foley, and that to this day the artist who makes those sounds is called a Foley Artist.

Well, someday when the smell is recreated in a studio for a movie for the audience to enjoy in the theater, it will be called Lombardi thanks to Chef Richard Lombardi and this one incident. From now on that artist who will make the smells that go with the movies will be called a Lombardi Artist.

Okay, back to the screening. So who got the prized Eggplant? Well, Robert Davi of course got one, his movie's Producer and Editor, Jim Cypherd at Sun Lion Films another, and Kelsey Grammer, of the "Cheers" and "Frasier" fame who has an Italian wife by the way got one, as did actor Elya Baskin.

There's never a dull moment with Richard around I have to tell you. At any rate, it was a lot of fun and I wish Robert and the movie the best.

In the first picture above you see me with Robert Davi and his Producer and Editor Jim Cypherd. Below that is Kelsey Grammer and I. Then there is Peter Bogdanovich with Richard and I below that.

The rest of the picture speak for themselves except this last one of Italian-American Producer TJ Mancini owner of Crossroads Entertainment, Inc.

I wish you all go see the movie,


P.S. This is a trailer of "The Dukes" as posted on Youtube.com, enjoy. (In English)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A Garden Party - It Must Be Summer

One of the things I really like about what I do and about my life is that I get to meet a lot of people. I usually meet them in all kinds of different circumstances. One way is I get invited to a lot of really fun and interesting events.

This week I was invited to a Garden Party at the beautiful Santa Monica home of Kara Fox because of a friend of mine who co hosted it, Linda Breakstone, former CBS national television news investigative reporter and political editor, both pictured here (Kara is on the left).

Of course, Linda Kara being involved in the art foundations and Linda being a former anchor woman you would expect that many of their friends have similar backgrounds, though not all. So I wasn't surprised to run into TV personalities that I knew and happy to meet ones I didn't.

One person that we all know from CBS television, especially in Los Angeles for example, is Laura Diaz,

who I was happy to meet again and this time get a photo with her so I could post it. We played around with the shots and I would say, had fun doing it.

Pictured below on my right is another anchor woman you may recognize and on my left is a former CBS news producer and the host of the All About Race Blog at www.AllAboutRace.com, is Carmen Dix. I have read her blog and it talks about racial issues and prejudice on all races, and since our meeting, her blog now includes articles on prejudice against Italians in this Country.

One of the great surprises I have had in a long time was seeing this next person at the party. Here is the

story. You know how we tend to run around and socialize in different groups of friends during certain periods of our lives? If not you, then me, I do.

In any event, one particular group of friends that I enjoyed and I used to socialize with often for several year disbanded about ten years ago, one person died, one person moved to Italy, another person to Las Vegas, another got married... you know. And somehow some of us didn't see each other again for years.

Well, I was talking to a person within that group who I hadn't even talked to in over five years and I thought about Ian Jessel. And I mentioned him in the conversation saying how I would love to see him and connect with him again. After hanging up the phone from that conversation I got my phone book and looked up his number. As I was about to call him, I was distracted and ended up having to do something else. I remember saying to myself, oh well, I'll call him eventually, but I wish I could see him soon, I would enjoy that.

Well, here I am sitting at this party talking to a bunch of beautiful people at a table outside and who walks out into the yard from the house, not a week after I said that? Ian Jessel, who I had not seen in ten years. Is that a story or what?

I think I startled everyone at the table including Ian when I yelled out his name in surprise and amazement. He looked at me like who is this crazy person and then recognized me immediately. Ian is a Producer a former President of MiraMax Films, a member of the Academy Awards Governing Board and the British

Film Academy, and on and on, and at the moment I might say he even speaks Italian better than I. He is pictured here sitting with me and his good friend Kara.

I won't talk about everyone at the party, I promise, but this is fun for me, I must say to write about and relive. Okay, this is the last person I will talk about and then I will just post fun pictures for all who wanted to be on the blog to see themselves.

This next person is a composer, so you know I have to talk about him. Pictured above with me is Carter Larsen who is making a splash with his music appropriately called Fantasia Suite. You will want to check out his website at www.Fantasiasuite.com and see and hear what I am talking about.

He and his music are being requested to appear throughout the world with this new style that he says he discovered. I only learned about it at

this party but it sounded fascinating and I couldn't wait to go to the party and hear it. We are planning to get together one of these days and discuss music, as we musicians do, and I look forward to that. Maybe I will have more to report.

Okay, no more stores on this post or names, except my shout out to my friends Marco Missinato and Isabella Carlini who were at the party with me and to Rick Orlov, the "Dean" of City Hall Bureau Reporters for the Los Angeles Daily News, because I promised him I would put him in my blog. You will see them all below.

And so as to make sure I don't say anything more as I post these pictures I will sign off now.


P.S. Since I always end with a video, and since I have mentioned so many anchor women, I thought it would be cute to post a video of an Italian news team (Telegiornale). This is one I found on Youtube that is of a show called "Ora TV Toritto," a young student broadcast. This is not the national evening news, and better yet, it features a few bloopers. (In Italian) (See video at the end of all the picture posts).