×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Melfi: Real-life characters drive bigscreen stories

10 Screenwriters to Watch 2012: Ted Melfi

In the mid-1990s, Ted Melfi was working as a cook in an Italian restaurant in Los Angeles. When a young man with a screenplay asked him if he produced, he said, “Yes.” The next thing Melfi knew, he was in the indie film business.

Over the years, he produced several low-budget films, directed one feature and numerous shorts, and eventually became an accomplished commercial filmmaker (noted for MTV’s “Pizza Guy” and FedEx’s “Clones” spots.)

“I’d like to think I put my time in,” says the 41-year-old Brooklyn native, who now has several bigger projects about to go forward: The Weinstein Co.’s “St. Vincent de Van Nuys,” starring Bill Murray; a Warner Bros. remake of the old-folks caper pic “Going in Style”; and an NBC TV pilot for Jon Favreau called “The Mancinis,” based on his own life growing up in 1980s Brooklyn with a mobster father and a mother who was a nun. “It sounds like a punch line,” admits Melfi. “But I’m most attracted to stories about real people, real issues and real problems.”

Also based on his own life experiences, “Van Nuys” chronicles a young boy who finds an unlikely “saint” in a curmudgeonly next-door neighbor. “It’s essentially about how the little things we do for each other become bigger things down the road,” he says. Collaborators praise Melfi for his “unusual compassion,” says “Van Nuys” producer Jenno Topping. “Plus he’s just extremely funny and unpretentious.”

“What really sets Ted apart,” adds WB-based producer Donald De Line, “is his ability to make you immediately care for his characters by instilling them with an authentic voice and inner life — (that) honesty allows it to transcend the page and become real.”

Reps: UTA; Infinity Management; Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown

Return to 10 Screenwriters to Watch 2012

More Scene

  • Taylor Swift attends the Time 100

    Watch Taylor Swift's Time 100 Gala Performance and Speech

    Just two nights out from Taylor Swift D-day spring 2019 — i.e., Thursday’s release of a new single — Swift made an appearance Tuesday at the Time 100 event in New York, where she did not let loose with any spoiler performances of new music but did sing a few fan favorites, including “Style,” “Delicate,” and [...]

  • Katie HolmesAT&T Presents: Untold Stories Luncheon

    Katie Holmes, Kal Penn Help Decide Winner of $1 Million Filmmaker Grant

    Tribeca Film Festival and AT&T gave one young filmmaker a million and one reasons to rejoice at the “Untold Stories” third annual competition. After a nerve-wracking 10-minute long pitch in front of over 850,000 live stream audience members and a panel consisting of celebrities and industry leaders, filmmaker Kate Tsang was awarded $1 million Monday [...]

  • Laurie Metcalf, John Lithgow'Hillary and Clinton'

    Why John Lithgow Worried About Starring in Broadway's 'Hillary and Clinton'

    When Lucas Hnath first conceived of “Hillary and Clinton” in 2008, he was writing for and about a very different America. Now, a total reimagining of the show has made its way to Broadway with Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow in the titular roles. At the opening on Thursday night, the cast and creatives talked [...]

  • Patrick Page, Amber Grey, Eva Noblezada,

    'Hadestown' Took 12 Years to Get to Broadway, but It's More Relevant Than Ever

    When “Hadestown” was first staged as a tiny, DIY theater project in Vermont, those involved could never have predicted that it was the start of a 12-year journey to Broadway — or how painfully relevant it would be when it arrived. At Wednesday night’s opening at the Walter Kerr Theatre, the cast and creatives discussed [...]

  • Mick Jagger

    Mick Jagger Makes First Post-Surgery Appearance at Rolling Stones Ballet Premiere

    Rock legend Mick Jagger made his first public appearance post-heart surgery on Thursday night to catch a glimpse of the world premiere of the Rolling Stones ballet “Porte Rouge.” “I hope you are going to enjoy this wonderful new ballet, and, of course, the music,” the frontman declared in a pre-recorded message to the audience [...]

  • Adam Driver appears at the curtain

    Adam Driver on Starring in 'Burn This' for a Second Time

    The Hudson Theatre’s new production of “Burn This” marks its first Broadway revival since it premiered on the Great White Way in 1987, but Adam Driver is no stranger to the work. He starred as Pale in a Juilliard production of the Lanford Wilson drama when he was still a student — and only now, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content