New series ‘Gravesend’ hones in on lead actor’s hometown
“Gravesend,” the ‘80s mob series formerly known as “The Neighborhood,” was seen filming last week in Brooklyn, the home borough for the show’s lead actor and director Will DeMeo.
The show — currently in production — has filmed the bulk of its first season in ‘hoods where DeMeo grew up. Most recently, the cast and crew was spotted at Joe’s Bar on Avenue U and Our Lady of Grace church.
Locations have also included everyday Brooklyn streets, including DeMeo’s mother’s block on West Street (which he named his production company after) as well as F and D train subway platforms and the storied, now-shuttered Vegas Diner in Bensonhurst.
In “Gravesend,” DeMeo stars as Brooklyn mob soldier Benny Zerletta. Zerletta, he explained, is forced to choose between fulfilling his mother’s dying wish and a responsibility forced upon him as a made man of a powerful crime family.
Zerletta also struggles with his faith, DeMeo said.
His co-stars include such names as James Russo, Louis Lombardi, Paul Ben-Victor, Leo Rossi, A.J. Benza, Nick Turturro, Ken Lerner, Chris Tardio, Peter Guadio, Christina DeRosa, Bo Dietl and “Mob Wives” star Natalie Guercio as well as fellow Brooklynites Joe D’Onofrio and Patrick Borriello and local boxing legend Paulie Malignaggi.
Newer additions to the roster include Vincent Pastore, Chuck Zito, Carla Facciolo, Janine Divita and Michael “Kaves” McLeer — a Bay Ridge native and founder of ’90s punk-rap fusion group the Lordz of Brooklyn (whose music, DeMeo noted, will likely end up on the show’s soundtrack).
To boot, neighborhood residents and their kids have been cast as extras for the series.
“It’s coming along great,” DeMeo said, teasing that even more big names will soon be released. “We’re really showing Brooklyn in the ’80s in a very big way — how tough it was, the big poufy hair, the pinkie rings, the music, the cars. It’s all Brooklyn.”
And that’s the whole point, he said.
“It’s all about growing up in the ‘80s in Brooklyn,” DeMeo said. “We couldn’t do this without Brooklyn, and for that I’m so grateful.”
The star shouted out his two most recent backdrops – Joe’s and OLG, “especially Reverend Vincent Chirichella and Reverend Dominick Cutrone,” he said, adding that Cutrone has been a friend of his “for years.”
DeMeo was also sure to thank his crew — including, but not limited to, his co-producer Deidre LaCasse and his associate Michele Frantzeskos.
“I cannot thank my incredible crew enough,” he said. “The group of people that we’ve put together is truly amazing. I appreciate them all tremendously.”
It also helps, DeMeo said, to have a “seasoned cinematographer” like Roy Wagner, who has shot episodes of shows like “Elementary” and “Ray Donovan, on hand for “Gravesend.”
The show will soon have a release date and network, according to the star, who said the series has a good number of episodes already under its belt.
“We’re gonna have an amazing first season,” DeMeo said.
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