Jon asked a few people (mostly L.A. peers and 'industry' types who've read the bulk of his material) to offer something to this page. They were told to say whatever they wanted, and nothing would be held back from their submitted version. Since that time, additional people have added their two cents (often more, rarely less).
The following are in alphabetical order, as not to piss anyone off.
Judith began her career as Miss New Mexico and runner-up in the Miss USA pageant, then appeared in hundreds of print ads and commercials around the world. She studied with Lee Strasberg, and became a Lifetime Member of the Actors Studio. Judith has been in over 250 TV shows and a dozen movies with Richard Gere, Julia Roberts, Rosie O'Donnell, Dan Ackroyd, Bette Midler, Barbara Hershey, Demi Moore, Elliot Gould and Cybil Shepherd, in Pretty Woman, Princess Diaries II, Beaches, Scarface, Stepford Wives (original), Six Feet Under, E.R. and Tales From The Crypt.
The qualities I have found most admirable about Jon are; his discipline in what is undoubtedly one of the most difficult art-forms...writing; his business savvy and persistence, which keeps him on top of the details; and his wonderful quality of collecting a truly gracious group of friends. All of these have and will carry him far in life.
We all know his screenplay and manuscript for The Boss Always Sits In The Back are great, but after completing the screenplays for The Delivery Man and Rubdown, it was apparent Jon couldn't be tied down to just one genre. I've just finished reading his romantic comedy, Mad Avenue, and loved it! Now that is talent!
President and founding member of The SoCal Film Group, and co-writer of Plant Life, which is currently in development at Scheherazade Films.
I first met Jon D’Amore at a meeting of The Writers Group of Studio City that meets on Wednesday nights in a little theater in the Valley (That's the “San Fernando Valley” for you non-Angelinos. Over the hill from Hollywood, it spawned the Valley Girl craze of the early '80's, and is the porn capital of the world. Though I'm sure those two things aren't related).
Jon struck me as very smart and highly skilled as a writer, but what truly amazed me was his recall. I can barely call to mind what I had for lunch yesterday, but Jon can easily reminisce about what he had for lunch 30 years ago yesterday, along with what he was wearing, who ate lunch with him, and whether he got romantic with her afterward. It's astonishing, and a little daunting. If I make a fool of myself around him (something I'm prone to do), I know he'll store that episode verbatim in his mind, and one day he'll tell the amusing anecdote to Jay or Dave and a live studio audience.
When he moved out to La-La-Land, he seemed a bit naive about the industry and the absurd twists of logic and customs that make it different from nearly every industry in the world (with the possible exception of politics and/or pimping). Though I bet that's the last time you'll ever hear Jon referred to as “naive.”
Well, he didn't remain that way for long. Once he applied his brains, balls and experience to the task, he soon learned everything he had to know about “The Dance,” while also finding a way to make industry people dance to his tune. He played by the rules when that was appropriate, and applied his own set of rules when needed. And by doing so, he's now got a goodly number of fans in high places.
Jon and I briefly considered teaming up to write the screenplay adaptation of his book The Boss Always Sits In The Back. But after a few meetings, it became increasingly apparent that he knew the story better than anyone (it was his story, after all, and he's got that enviable recall thing I mentioned earlier) and could evoke the drama quite stunningly on his own. I realized he didn't need someone like me just to put everything in screenplay format and to make sure the ellipses didn't take up half the page. So I took a powder, and have been one of his most enthusiastic supporters ever since.
In person, Jon is quite a raconteur, as well as being amazingly generous with his time and resources. If he can't get something done, he knows someone who can. He's always there for a “cuppa and a natter,” as my English grandmother used to say. Though with Jon the cuppa probably wouldn't be Earl Grey tea, but something with a bit more of a kick.
If you're lucky enough to get your hands on this collection, keep it in a safe place. In a few years, when Jon is rightfully given his place in the Rich And Famous Hollywood Writers' Club, you can say “I knew him when...” (and the collection will be worth a tidy sum on Ebay).
Actor, gun control law activist...and co-writer with Jon for Robert's Perfect Woman, for the CBS sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond.
Jon is an incredible writer who I've had the pleasure of not only knowing, but also writing with. His drive for an art he truly loves is displayed in his writings, where he allows his intellect and imagination to envelop the words that he puts on the page. Born and raised in New Jersey, the flavor of that environment permeates his storytelling and always leaves us wanting more. It's his discipline and perseverance that will lift and carry him on his journey to success.
James Bruner & Elizabeth Stevens
Their track record speaks for itself. Of the 3 movies mentioned, as of this writing they have generated nearly a billion dollars in box office, rental and sales revenue. The following is their letter, sent after reading the script for The Boss Always Sits In The Back.
What can we say...we LOVED the script.
We're not sure if you know our background. Just so you do...Jim has written a number of hit movies, such as Missing In Action, Invasion USA and The Delta Force. The two of us currently have a dramatic feature project in development with Richard and Lili Zanuck and have just written and produced a comedy feature that is going to be released soon. We are extremely impressed with your work. The story is compelling, the structure and dialogue are spot-on. Wow! Are you sure that you haven't been doing this for twenty years?
A most unique, interesting and entertaining person, with a family legacy that dates back to their 1654 arrival to America. Michael is a Chicago native who has lived all over the world. He now keeps residences in Los Angeles and New York, and is best known as the producer of the original Broadway production, and subsequent productions that traveled throughout the world, of Hair, one of the theaters' most commercially successful musicals ever.
The Boss Always Sits In The Back is a very interesting book about the inside workings of the Mafia, with many wonderful personal touches. I found it fascinating. I can imagine what a time the author must have had, and also how close he came to the abyss from time to time.
Teaches Creative Writing at Moorpark College, and Poetry at Barnsdall Art Center. Her award winning poetry and articles have appeared in Ms. Magazine, L.A. Weekly, Variety, Inside Events and other entertainment industry publications.
Jon D’Amore? Where do I start? He is one of the brightest people I know. He's up on everything and can spew it forth on a dime. I first met him at The Writers Group of Studio City. He ambled in and, before I knew it, he had become a major force to reckon with, pumping new blood into a 14-year old workshop. We needed his energy and he gave it to us, all the while raising the bar and making the writers work for their praise.
During our many morning walks around Lake Hollywood I would discuss my ideas for short stories. Plots not being one of my strengths, he would often help me round out the ideas I had, then inspire me to run straight to my computer to get it all down.
I saw him grow from a beginning writer to a fine writer, industrious and driven. He has more finished projects in the can than anyone in any group I have ever worked with. He really puts his computer where his mouth is, and the result is a desk drawer full of wonderful screenplays, novels, television scripts, plays and shorts that will soon be icons in the entertainment world.
Jon has walked out of the pages of Damon Runyon. He talks with a colorful “deeze and doe's” lilt, but just look at his work. It's the King's English! What a guy, and what a friend.
Actor, model and health connoisseur
Jon's writing takes you on a compelling journey, one that grabs your attention from the first few pages. His characters quickly involve you in their imaginative, playful, and vengeful escapades. His writing is witty, sophisticated and when required....laced with some very steaming love scenes. His repertoire of scripts are all very different, from the sex and murder in Rubdown, to finding romance in the midst of a humorous climb up the corporate ladder in Mad Avenue. Jon's writing is honest, heartfelt, hilarious, and extremely entertaining. He is one of the most driven individuals I know. It is only a matter of time until he becomes a household name. I feel very fortunate to call him a friend.
Actor with that oh-so-recognizable face, and a resume that reads like the best of TV and film during the latter part of the 20th Century...and into the 21st. The short list includes; Dog Day Afternoon, Saturday Night Fever, Total Recall, City Slickers, Dick Tracy, Columbo, NYPD Blue, Friends, Ally McBeal, Murphy Brown, Lois & Clark and Hercules. He met Jon in 2001 over lunch with Milton Berle at the Beverly Hills Friars Club. They've been friends ever since. The following is a letter Bobby sent after reading the manuscript for The Boss Always Sits In The Back.
How ya doin'!
Having grown up in the neighborhood, hanging out with these guys, and later on, getting a chance to play them, I can tell you that Jon D’Amore knows “the life” as it's called on the streets.
His is an original and honest voice that casts new light on a genre sorely in need of something fresh. He's the real deal as a guy, as a writer, and as an old soul...not so much in years, but in spirit...who respects the past and understands the present. I was privileged to be a part of the screenplay reading of The Boss Always Sits In The Back, a great title by the way, and look forward to being on the set when it gets made.
Actress and writer of several screenplays, articles, novels, novellas, and co-writer with Jon of Women Are Pigs (the title was her idea).
I met Jon during a shoot for The SoCal Film Group. We were both actors in the film (yes, Jon too) and started talking about writing. Before wrapping (that's Hollywood lingo for “quittin' time”) we'd become fast friends and agreed to trade scripts for feedback. The next night I gave him my script and he gave me the manuscript for The Boss.
As someone who loves mob stories and has a paternal connection to Al Capone's family that goes back to the '20's, I was riveted immediately.
The Boss could've been just another mafia story, a sort of “my side” recollection from an insider/outsider. But it's an incredible tale of yet another secret way da boys “earned” money. I had never heard of the Vegas scam that was detailed in the manuscript before...and it entertained me from beginning to end. The fact that this particular scam changed the way Vegas now conducts business...and no one has ever written about it before? Well that's just crazy! This story, and the screenplay based on the manuscript, must, must, must be made.
When I completed writing a short screenplay titled Women Are Pigs, I asked Jon to read it. He had some great ideas on how to make it better and we became co-writers with a wonderful finished product. It took some wrangling (though in Hollywood it's called “negotiating”) for him to convince me to change the ending, but in time I came to realize how much better it was. It added a nice button to the end of a very bizarre story.
Jon is a great storyteller and will be a great success (actually, he is already). He's also a wonderful, supportive and generous friend. It's a rarity in Hollywood to find someone who will give an honest opinion about your work while offering suggestions to help make it better. He's a straight shooter who means what he says and actually does what he says he's going to do. That's worth keeping.
Three time best selling author of I'm With The Band, Take Another Little Piece Of My Heart, and Rock Bottom. Journalist, columnist, rock historian, sexual pioneer, and screenwriter of Jimmy And The Jazz Singer, the true story of the last several months in the life of James Dean. Pamela has been a Los Angeles personality since the late 1960's. Jon has been infatuated with her since that time because she was a close friend of Frank Zappa, one of Jon's musical icons. Meeting her was a highpoint in Jon's life. At the March, 2004 premiere party for Mayor Of The Sunset Strip in the penthouse of the Sunset Hyatt, she sat on Jon's lap and told him how much she enjoyed the manuscript for The Boss. At that moment, life for Jon couldn't get any better.
In The Boss Always Sits In The Back, Jon D’Amore takes us on a perilous, hysterical adventure into the inner workings and inner sanctum of mobster mentality as only a family member can. With a roll of the dice, we are careening along with Jon in sumptuous 70's Vegas hotel suites and scamming crap tables at the Sahara and Aladdin with the likes of Tony “Taz” Costa and Louie Calderone. Jon's memory for insider mobspeak is sharp and uncanny as he breathes Technicolor life into hazardous characters who never, ever become caricatures. Jon got oh so close to the sharp edge of the Mafia and somehow lived to tell the scandalous, libidinous tale. Yes, there's sex, murder, mayhem, blood, and plenty of retribution, but there is also living, breathing humanity found in these pages, proving that even mobsters have heart.
Georgia Durante Author of her true-life mob story, The Company She Keeps. She is a famous stunt car driver, and owner of one of Hollywood's leading stunt driving companies. The following is from a letter she sent after reading the manuscript for The Boss Always In The Back.
The Boss Always Sits In The Back is an entertainingly funny and sometime too real look at life on the darker side. Coming from someone who's been there, done that, this fascinating read really hit home. Jon D’Amore masterfully crafts his life's adventures into a hard to put down book. A staggering triumph.
Actor seen in numerous film, TV and stage productions, and brings with him a countless number of voices and characters. Writer of several short stories and plays, a libretto for a musical adaptation of the epic poem Beowulf, and the originator of Fire In The Sky, a sci-fi screenplay that he's co-writing with Jon.
I first encountered Jon and his writing in The Writers Group, which meets at The Two Roads Theatre on Tujunga Street in Studio City. He was having his novel, The Boss Always Sits In The Back, read serially. Having plied my trade as an actor in New York for sixteen years before coming to the hallucinatory paradise known as L.A., his Jersey-Italian twang made me smile and conjure memories of my buddies Ritchie and Frank hawking pickles at The San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy, sinking my teeth into a meatball sub from one of the booths, or devouring a slice of Vinnie's pizza up on Amsterdam and 110th, near St. John The Divine.
I found Jon's writing well-crafted, funny and poignant. It reflected the writer. Jon is maddeningly meticulous, if not obsessive, about mechanics and details. I was an English teacher for eight years before I dove into acting, and consider myself above the norm when it comes to good grammar and sentence structure. However, he put me to shame when I asked him to proofread some of my material.
In The Boss, Jon proved he's also adept at self-effacing humor, and knows how to milk a running gag (such as the continual primping of the Italian guys whenever they came within ten feet of a mirror, and the total indifference of the Irish guys to their appearance). I saw that he was also very good at handling pathos, especially since it dealt with autobiographical events. The narrative, dialog and descriptive passages between his cousin Jerry and him were all the more moving because of the restraint and discipline Jon imposed on himself in writing (and I'm sure, re-writing) those scenes.
That's another of his traits: perseverance...or stubbornness...take your pick. When it came to adapting The Boss Always Sits In The Back as a screenplay, Jon had a tiger by the tail...and it was a 900-pound, roaring, saber-toothed nightmare!
Jon complimented me by asking me to read roles in several of the readings (or “incarnations” as some of us actors like to say among ourselves) of The Boss as a screenplay. Now, I can do a passable generic New York Italian accent, but when I walked into that first reading, I thought I had stumbled into a meeting of the West Coast Italian-American Division of SAG.
And there I stood, my pale skin and red hair sticking out like a pickled herring in the pasta, surrounded by actors from The Godfather II, Bugsy, Raging Bull, Prince Of The City, The Usual Suspects, Scarface, Total Recall and Beverly Hills Cop. Four-and-a-half hours later we were all groaning, but only because of the length, not the substance. After that, Jon sliced and diced until he whittled the script down from a bloated Maxi-series (276 pages) to a respectable (125 pages) husky/stout/slightly zaftig feature.
I've learned a lot from Jon, not only about writing, but also about loyalty and friendship. He is generous as a writer and a person, an unstinting giver. It is a pleasure and a privilege to have an opportunity to reciprocate, however meagerly, in kind. Thank you, Jon.
A graduate of the University of California-San Diego's Theatre Department and the Drama School at the University of Kent in England, Sierra is also a member of the Gangbusters Theatre Company, an award-nominated ensemble determined to breathe life into the Los Angeles theatre scene. She's appeared in independent films and Jeep, Coke and Saturn commercials. A source of pride is her children's theatre group where Sierra is the Artistic Director and a private acting coach.
In 2003, I moved to L.A. to begin my acting career...and like most actors I began waitressing in a place frequented by industry people. In some ways it was like a crash course in career management; I quickly learned how to spot opportunists and frauds.
Well, one night Jon came in. We began talking as I served him his usual (clams over linguini with red sauce, and garlic toast served not a moment before he reaches the linguini...just in case you were wondering). He eventually asked me to read for a part in one of his scripts. Let me preface that Jon is the type of person a young woman feels comfortable handing her business card to without having to worry about ulterior motives. Still, I had no idea where this was about to take me.
My first job with Jon was as the lead in a screenplay he wrote called Mad Avenue. We had a great time at that reading, putting life and voices behind some already very funny characters. Soon after, Jon put another script in my hand. I met with Jon and Laura Fuino to discuss their brainchild, Rubdown. I don't know how a writer can go from writing such a lighthearted comedy to writing a hot and steamy thriller.
The next script of Jon's that I read was another entirely different genre; The Boss Always Sits In The Back was such a realistic, mysterious mob drama that I remember being afraid to return Jon's phone calls for a little while. Finally, the last reading I've had the honor of participating in (at least as of this writing) has been Deadfellas, a hilarious parody of gory zombie films and tough mafia guys (and it was the first of his readings where I didn't have to make orgasmic noises) that he co-wrote with his friend, Steve Barr.
It's no secret that Jon can write for any genre...his natural understanding of good storytelling makes him flexible enough to write a script of any style.
Jon has been more than a business partner to me. He has been a valuable friend and an active proponent of my career. He has introduced me to many industry people and sings my praises to anyone who will listen. He has been consistent in his friendship and advocacy of my talents. He's even offered to assist in my own screenwriting efforts.
I never go a long time without hearing from him...either just checking in, inviting me to one of his great parties, or arranging for me to meet some producer or agent. In this town, a person who has a combination of enthusiasm, loyalty, talent and work ethic is hard to find, but Jon is one of the exemplary few.
Actor, and co-writer with Jon of Rubdown.
Los Angeles is a town where many claim to be screenwriters, but only a few have the actual capability and knowledge to be able to do so. Jon D’Amore and I met in a print shop in May, 2003, and resulting from that meeting we teamed up and completed an original screenplay called Rubdown.
Jon is a generous, dedicated and patient writing partner. He first edited a sitcom I wrote and made wonderful notes. He always takes time to help and encourage other writers that he believes have talent. He is full of original ideas, always respecting the content of the story.
I read his script, The Boss Always Sits In The Back, and I was convinced that he would be the right person to write Rubdown with me. I was so excited when he agreed to do the project. I knew that by working with him, we would have a winning script.
He kept me on a schedule and we completed the entire script in only a couple of months. I, by myself, wasn't able to put a lot of the pieces of the story together. Jon did it effortlessly, while adding color and movement to the characters and story.
Our meeting at the print shop opened a new door to my life and career. I feel honored to have written with such a talented, respectful and unique person.
One of the most eclectic careers in show business...from band singer at 18, to standup comic, to Broadway (winning a Tony as Birdie in the original cast of Bye Bye Birdie), to starring roles in 5 TV series and 20 feature films, Dick arguably holds the record for more TV guest spots (nearly 1,000) than any other performer. Just a few of the people he's worked with (in no particular order) include Mort Sahl, Maya Angelou, Barbra Streisand, Buck Henry, Larry Hagman, Lucille Ball, Mary Tyler Moore, F. Murray Abraham, Dick Van Dyke, Bob Newhart, Walter Matthau, Jack Nicholson, George Segal, Jane Fonda, James Stewart, Dame Diana Rigg (yes...Mrs. Peel!), Dudley Moore, Doris Day, Jim Carrey and Sid Caesar. Dick starred in both of Mel Brooks' TV series...Get Smart, as the unforgettable Hymie the Robot, and When Things Were Rotten, as the vain (but very funny) Robin Hood. And if that weren't enough, he's had 14 books published on the subject of art: portraiture, cartooning and caricature. Eclectic indeed!
I've known Jon D’Amore for a couple of years...but only intimately for a few months (read into that what you wish). During that brief time I've come to respect him as a writer, having delved into several of his screenplays...though his status as a human being is still in question as far as I'm concerned (just check with the FBI), but his writing is certainly impressive.
As an older member of the Hollywood community, I assumed that Jon would come to me for the occasional word of advice. But no...he thinks he knows it all!
Anyway, Jon, here's my unasked-for advice: You NEVER wrote a part for me...which I think is absolutely stupid! AND you never enrolled in my class (spend a few bucks on your career, Cheapo!) “The Art of Ass Kissing.” Had you taken it, you'd probably be a lot further along than you are, but...what do I know?
But serially, folks...Jon is a good, hard working guy (how many scripts has he written...like ninety-three?) with a good heart, and so far he's picked up the lunch check three times. Hence...I love him dearly!
Screenwriter and reality game-show creator.
Concerning Mr. Jon D’Amore...I just plain admire the guy. From the first time I was involved in one of his readings I realized he's all about the work...getting it done, and getting it done right, but all the while remembering to have fun. He's constantly working his craft. Whether it's taking his script Mad Avenue through a hundred rewrites and readings, to starting new projects with a new writing partner...Jon is out there with a determination and a work ethic that blows me away...and it inspires me.
Working with the man is an absolute pleasure because he respects you, listens to you. But in the end if he doesn't agree with something, he's sure as hell not shy about letting you know! And in this town...that's amazing. But if he considers you his friend, he's always got your back and he's there for you. Always.
They say surround yourself with the best. I have. Jon is the man!
With multiple TV, film, theater and commercial roles (where she's loved in Japan), Jennifer continues to be one of Hollywood's most sought after faces. Her career began with a walk-on in the Kornbluth brothers' Haiku Tunnel, a role that changed the movie. Since then, she has worked with such acclaimed directors as John Landis, Jerome Courtland and Tom Dey.
Jon picked me up in a bar.
That was a few years ago. It was at the trendy and fashionable Sunset Room. Jon was there for some schmoozy Hollywood event. He fit right in. We sparked up a brief conversation that turned into a fast friendship. We, I mean he, chatted for hours and I nodded politely. But by the time the place was closing, Jon sold me on The Boss before I saw the first page.
A few days later I read the script for The Boss. The end result? I thought it was fantastic!
As far as Jon's business savvy? He's a smooth talker, and knowledgeable regarding whatever subject he's speaking about. Sure, anyone who knows him....knows that. But I've gone with Jon to meetings with producers, managers and agents, and I'll tell you one thing, you had better be telling the truth and know what you're talking about or he'll see your real side and tell you about it to your face. Whenever I have a business decision to make, my first call is to Jon.
Did you ever see Get Shorty? Jon is Chilli Palmer.
We all know he isn't a one hit wonder. Jon has staying power, as a writer and as a friend. Cheers to you, Jon. See you at the top!
A life-long friend...and avid reader.
Jon and I have been friends since birth. Our parents used to put us down for naps together in the same crib, so I guess you can say we were “crib buddies.” Jon was 3 months old when I was born, and my first visitor. We spent many happy times together as children and remained close friends throughout our teens. By that time, it was the early '70's. We lived in different towns, but not far from one another. We had attended different high schools, pursued different lives and went in different directions; for Jon it was playing music and discovering other women. For me, it was other guys. I always assumed Jon and I would sow our wild oats, and then, someday marry. But I burst that bubble when I wed someone else and moved to another state.
In the years that followed, Jon and I didn't see each other very often. I was married with children. He was building a career in music and, at times, having one hell of a life. We spoke occasionally just to keep in touch, but despite the distance between us, our friendship remained strong.
By the '90's we lost contact. Imagine my thrill when we caught up with each other at the turn of the millennia and Jon told me he had moved to Los Angeles and written a manuscript and a couple of screenplays. I always knew Jon had talents, I didn't know writing was one of them.
When I received my copy of the manuscript for The Boss Always Sits In The Back, I immediately began reading. From the first page to the last I was surprised, entertained, and totally engrossed in the story. He then sent me the script for The Boss. I could actually see it unfolding before me, as if it were being played out on the big screen. It was superbly written and thoroughly entertaining.
Since then, I've had the immense pleasure of reading all of Jon's feature-length scripts to date, The Delivery Man, Rubdown and Mad Avenue, among them. As an avid reader of novels, I found Jon's manuscript to be on the same level of any of the best selling authors.
I've often seen writers who make a big splash, only to fizzle out with their subsequent works. Not so with Jon, his talent, imagination and eye for detail seems to expand with each new undertaking. He makes me proud to call him my oldest and dearest friend.
A Chicago Second City Conservatory grad, Cyndi played Tina in the first year of Chicago's long-running Tony and Tina's Wedding before taking it to Off-Broadway. Hollywood soon beckoned, leading to roles in Coyote Ugly, Burt Reynold's The Last Producer, portraying Princess Diana in Forbidden Secrets, and starring opposite Fred Durst and Tim Bagley. Backstage Live has proclaimed her...“one of Hollywood's up-and-coming actresses.”
It was late in the evening and I had just driven into Hollywood from camping among the redwoods of Big Sur, a few hundred miles north of Los Angeles. I made the long drive in order to audition for the lead in a SoCal Film Group 'action project' that Jon D’Amore was producing. The role called for a 'tall, tough female with stage-fighting ability.' I read for the director, fought the stuntman and departed, feeling in my heart that this role was mine.
Callbacks were held up on Mulholland Drive in one of Jon's favorite places, but that's another story for another time. Again, I read and fought, and to make a long story short, I got the part.
Fast-forward a few months to the set. Jon took excellent care of me, and in a matter of days we made a really hip film. In the months since, Jon and I have become fast friends, and I have learned much from him about the business.
I eventually asked to read his manuscript, The Boss Always Sits In The Back, and followed it with the screenplay. I immediately became hooked and asked for more. I have since read all of his scripts, cover-to-cover, each in one sitting! I didn't want any of them to end! Each one excited me for different reasons, and my mouth watered over the beautifully written, conflicted, leading characters.
Jon's screenplays are tight, and there's no doubt that they'll soon be on the screen achieving box-office success! Any actor or actress would be lucky to star in one of Jon's films.
I've become a fan!
John Rixey Moore
Actor seen in dozens of TV, film and commercial work. He runs the Writers Group of Studio City, and has written manuscripts titled Hostage To Paradox and Company Of Stone. He resides in the great white north outside of L.A.
Jon D’Amore writes with an instinctive grasp of story structure and a storyteller's ear for the dramatic moment. His scripts are a delightful romp through an entertaining mixture of fact and fiction, all blended with a skillful grasp of the throughline. Many of his characters take their truth from people he has known, as his stories borrow from the life that he has known, which places them in stark relief against the dull background of film fantasy.
His resume includes major and memorable roles in some of the most important films of our time. He has worked with more than two dozen Oscar winners in films such as Good Morning Vietnam, Father Of The Bride, Havana, Sister Act, Kindergarten Cop, Howard Stern's Private Parts, Barton Fink, Se7en, Twins, Tin Men and Perfect Stranger. His performances on a too-lengthy-to-list TV resume contain the shows; Mad About You, Seinfeld, Murder She Wrote, Judging Amy, and as Uncle Junior's attorney, Hal Melvoin, on the first five seasons of The Sopranos.
I have been privileged to know Jon D’Amore since 2001. In that time I have become familiar with his talent as a writer, generosity as a person, and personality as a truly unique individual. I have read a number of his screenplays aloud for invited audiences, among them, The Boss Always Sits In The Back. This latter work is one of superb quality and brilliantly illuminates the world it embraces. Jon is a writer with vision, humor, great ability with dialogue, a professional understanding of the story structure, and a terrific sense of dramatic pacing. I look forward to working with him on whatever he produces and hope that the industry opens their eyes to this excellent writer and a great guy.
I first met Jon at The Writers Group of Studio City. He was a guy from New Jersey who wanted to be a writer. Right. Just another deluded wannabe getting off the turnip truck at a stop called “Hollywood.” The line forms at the rear, buddy.
Then I read his work and realized Jon had talent. He had more than that. He applied himself to learning not only his craft, but other aspects of the business as well. Despite setbacks that are epidemic in this industry, he has persevered...always honing his craft and open to learning more. With that attitude, success for Jon is only a heartbeat away.
Former Associate Editor of the Secaucus Home News, the local newspaper for the New Jersey town where Jon lived from the age of 12 to 21. Secaucus is the primary New Jersey setting for The Boss.
Funny, I used to call Jon “the kid” when I first met him nearly ten years before I read the manuscript for The Boss Always Sits In The Back, and before I knew that was the nickname so many others gave him long ago. We first met in 1994, in my capacity as a newspaper reporter covering a zoning debacle involving a house Jon was in the process of buying in Secaucus.
Jon, a corporate executive at the time, was seeking the return of his deposit due to misrepresentations by the owner about some additional construction that was not up to the State's building codes, which was discovered during the home inspection...nor was there the correct documentation in the Town Hall's files, and it didn't appear that any of the town official's wanted to know about it, or do anything about it.
The big HOWEVER in the matter was that Jon was fighting a municipality and a construction code official (also known as a Building Inspector) who gave new meaning to the expression “Teflon.” But that didn't stop this 5'6 “kid” from going up against them.
To cut to the chase...Jon was absolutely correct in his assessment of the situation and, after 3 years, 3 months and 3 days of being embroiled in the Hudson County legal system...he won his case. It was then that he learned that the only winners in a trial are the attorneys. His legal bill was three times what he was awarded.
The reason I called Jon “the kid” was because he was one of the few men I knew that was the same height as me, weighed about a hundred-and-thirty five pounds soaking wet and wore his hair longer than most. He would come to my office often, sometimes too often, carrying reams and reams of papers and documents that he had researched and compiled for me to read and include in my articles. Now, who had time to read all that stuff? Not me. I knew the facts in the case and knew how to write the story. I also knew Jon was 100 percent right in his arguments. More times than I care to admit (and Jon will want to know), I deep-sixed his painstakingly prepared briefs and documents the minute he walked out the door and announced to the rest of the staff, “That kid is going to drive me nuts.”
Now that I've read The Boss Always Sits In The Back, I'm sorry I passed up the opportunity to sample his writing years ago. This manuscript was worth waiting for, however, because it's brilliant! His story invokes two senses and plays in two dimensions...as I read it, I could see it as if it were on the big screen. To add to the story's personal drama, I reside in the area in which the story is set, and I know a number of the people Jon included. His character portrayal is right on target!
“The kid” might be short, but this manuscript skyrockets his stature to great heights...heights that can't be measured with a ruler. “The kid” got it right. “The kid” has certainly come of age.
Award-winning documentary filmmaker, television writer, producer and director.
Disciplined, passionate, determined, tenacious and creative. These are the words that I would use to describe Jon D’Amore, whom I met in 1999. I was one of the lucky firsts to read his manuscript for The Boss Always Sits In The Back, and I thought he was a fresh and exciting talent, who, in time, would succeed in a big way. I've continued to be impressed by his prolific writing skills...in a variety of genres...and in his unwavering belief in himself and his work. “Hey...You talkin' about me?” Yes, Jon, I am talking about you! Your time has come, your success is an absolute, and I couldn't be happier.
Actress, screenwriter, and known for her voice-over work in feature films and television, most recently Lilo & Stitch and Ghost In The Shell. She is a mainstay of Jon's table readings, having been part of The Boss, Mad Avenue, and The Delivery Man. The only reason she missed Rubdown was because she was on her honeymoon.
I first met Jon at The Writer's Group, a conglomeration of talented writers and actors who meet weekly to read their material and get feedback. The first project of Jon's that I heard was The Boss Always Sits In The Back, then in novel form. As I sat in the darkened theatre, listening, his colorful characters just jumped off the page. His situations were darkly comic, and I thought, “This guy really has something special.” He had a voice. He had a point of view. He had a story that was incredibly compelling.
To this day, my favorite scene continues to be Jerry, Vinny and Sal's conversation about a “Lincoln vs. a Caddie.”
The next encounter was when I had the distinct pleasure to be part of a table reading of The Boss in screenplay form. Jon's gift for assembling talent is inspiring. When I participate in his readings, I'm constantly amazed at the level of talent he draws.
As the years rolled by, Jon proved he was more than a one-time, one-story writer, having explored and stretched his writing abilities into several genres, and with each one he has grown and succeeded.
His enthusiasm, drive, and passion are unsurpassed and continue to be a source of inspiration. It's a joy and a privilege to be a part of his readings and to be able to call him a friend...'cause with Jon, once you've made that connection, it's there for life.
Member of The Writers Group of Studio City. Co-producer of The Can Festival, an annual series of plays held in the San Fernando Valley. Writer of Disney's Sleeping Beauty II, and 're-wrote' Beatles In America for TNT. He lives somewhere in Pasadena.
I first met Jon D’Amore when I worked as Assistant Director on a low-budget DV (that's Digital Video for you non-Hollywood types,) written, produced and directed by a mutual friend. I was new to Los Angeles, but not to low-budget DV shoots. This one, however, impressed even me with its creative frugality. The microphone boom pole was a hollow aluminum shower rod with the mike duct-taped to the end. The wire from the mike snaked around the pole, and if a slight wind kicked up, would sway against the aluminum tube. To the casual ear, it only made a light tapping sound. But to the microphone, (and to viewers of the “dailies”) it made a cacophonous clanging, giving the impression that this sub-porn and sub-par movie was shot in a Catholic cathedral during mass.
Jon worked the microphone and boom pole. He also had a part in the movie. Did I mention it was low-budget?
Jon's scene was with the star of the production, a very tall, strapping young man who spent his spare time rock climbing. The actor had an odd devotion to his acting process, whatever it was, and resisted direction like the U.S. resists terrorism...with pre-emptive attacks. He'd had numerous screaming matches with the director, an affable and pragmatic man inclined to let things slide for the good of the production. The actor was, after all, the star of the show, pretty much driving every scene, every frame. We were too far into production to fire him. He had us by the short hairs, and he wasn't afraid to pull.
The scene with Jon involved a transfer of cash, and the question came up; how would the star hand the money over to Jon? Would he have it in his hand? Would it be in his wallet? His pocket? Would he count it out, or would he have the proper amount already separated from the rest of his cash? Hey, just because we were low-budget didn't mean we couldn't waste as much time as the studio fat-cats!
After a few minutes of group deliberation, with the star becoming increasingly frustrated, Jon chimed in. “You know what I'd do? I'd have the money in my pocket, and just whip it o--.”
“Look,” the star interrupted. “Don't tell me how to act. Okay? You're not even an actor. It's my prop. Let me figure out what to do with it.” He glared at Jon, his civil restraint the thin frosting on a three-layer cake of belligerent rage.
Jon shrugged indifferently. “I really don't give a fuck what you do with the money. I'm just trying to move things along--”
“Look,” the star repeated, his upper lip narrowing. “Shut up! Don't tell me how to work with my prop! You don't do that! Do I tell you what to do? No! So stay out of it!”
While this sounds like a horrible, ugly exchange, it was normal behavior for this actor. He'd yelled the same way at everyone on the set, including the guy who had donated the use of his house for us to shoot in. At this point, according to “the script” (not the actual one we were filming, but the one we must use in life), Jon would have shrugged again, said “Whatever,” and let the director deal with it, the way the rest of us had done.
But Jon threw out “the script.”
He started out quiet, but his volume increased. “Just because you pull that shit with everyone else on this set, don't think you can talk to me like that! I'll kick your fuckin' ass up and down this fuckin' driveway...and it's a long fuckin' driveway!”
The 6'4 star shot up, sending his chair flying back. Jon, all 5'6 of him, rose, accepted the challenge, still yelling. And the director, no doubt reveling vicariously in Jon's outburst, hit the little red button on his cheap-ass camera, catching some of this on video.
The star stood, his chest puffed out, his arms thrust back, fighting posture designed for maximum intimidation, flexing his rock climbing muscles. Jon, neither tall nor strapping, took off his suit jacket, his eyes blazing. “You think I'm scared of you, motherfucker?” he asked (rhetorically, I assume) as he rounded the desk between him and the star. He flung his jacket, which landed in the face of a young, sexy actress, normally a distraction for Jon, but transparent to him at that moment, invisible and meaningless.
I don't know what went on in the mind of the actor. Perhaps it was fear of what this angry little Italian could actually do to him. Perhaps it was pragmatism. Even if he could've taken Jon in a fight, he risked a black eye or some such physical wound that would wreak havoc on the film's continuity, not to mention the embarrassment of explaining exactly what happened, and who did it to him. Maybe he'd just recalled leaving the bathroom lights on at home. Anything's possible. Personally, I think a lot of the fun goes out of being a bully when he's called on to actually fight, especially if the outcome is uncertain. At any rate, without a word, the star turned around and bolted off the set.
Where was I all this time? Hell, someone had to hold the boom pole while Jon was acting.
Jon became my hero that day, not for the fight, but for what happened minutes later. He got on the phone with the star and cajoled him back to the set. This should have been the director's job, but Jon insisted he do it himself. The actor was back within the half hour, and the scene was shot, the money issue resolved.
I never forgot that day, and what it taught me about the nature of power, namely that it cannot be taken, only given. You can climb all the rocks you want, but in the end, you have to have rocks of your own.
That's a difficult lesson to learn when you're a screenwriter in Hollywood.
Out here, pliability receives as many marks as talent...more, perhaps. The writer must choose the imperative moment, the reason he wrote the script, and defend it with his life and copyrights. Everything else can change, and frequently does. The original concept, nibbled by producers and directors notes, worried by story conferences, tinkered with by everyone in the Hollywood food-chain from reader to star, wouldn't recognize itself as a film. And that's if your script gets made into a film. That's if you're lucky.
Jon works in a very personal, private arena. This is easy to miss, because of his sly, self-mocking tone. His first manuscript and screenplay, The Boss Always Sits In The Back, plays like a crime drama, with morbid bits of comedy tossed in for good measure. Leave it at that, and you still have a great story on your hands. But The Boss also works as a poignant coming-of-age story, a writer's fond farewell to childhood, and a love letter to his roots and his family. Not content with mere genre, Jon brings us into his home.
What is the imperative moment in The Boss? There is no imperative moment, because it's all imperative. Every word locks together and forms a mosaic of soul. One chip, one loose tile, and the whole magnificent structure transforms into a gaudy tourist trap. What will the Hollywood food-chain make of The Boss? What will they do to it?
If it were anyone other than Jon sitting on the other side of the desk, I'd be worried.
The collection in your hands contains some of Jon's shorter pieces. Although not autobiographical in the same way as The Boss, you'll find in each of them a personal statement declaring his position on lawyers, ex-wives, beautiful women, the “industry,” life in general, and the seductive quality of this 5'6 Italian male.
What you won't find is what he has against the letter “H.” I asked him about it once, why he spelled his name without the “H.” He told me...get this...that he “dropped it.” Huh? How's that for vague? Sure, you “dropped” it like they “misplaced” Jimmy Hoffa (whose last name, I might add, begins with the same cursed letter!). I imagine he'll write the “H” story in a script someday, and the whole ugly truth will come out. Until then, we speculate.
Take a look at his titles; The Boss Always Sits In The Back; The Bell Tower; Rubdown; The Delivery Man; Women Are Pigs; Me & George; Mad Avenue. Not an “H” in the lot (excluding four “the's”, which doesn't really count). How long can this bitter feud continue before it impairs Jon's muse? A writer needs all the letters, not just the “F”s and the “S”s.
That's why I take personal pride in what I consider his breakthrough piece. It was written for the first Can Festival in 2001, which I produced with my partner and friend B.K. Willerford. Jon hadn't submitted anything originally, but a writer withdrew her piece from the production slate, and we needed something fast. Jon found out about our situation, and in twenty-four hours, we had a play in our hands.
It had all the personal touches. It took place in a bankruptcy court, when Jon was going through his own financial woes (due to an ex-wife and a negligent lawyer). His character/surrogate spoke movingly about lost dreams, wounded pride, attorneys and the wisp of hope as represented by a beautiful girl who still found the “poor” him attractive. The play, as performed by Les Lannom and Cyanne McClarian, was a huge hit with audiences and critics alike.
It was called For What It's Worth.
Let the 'ealing begin.
World-traveled journalist, documentary producer and TV show host. He's known Jon since 1962 and has followed Jon's life and careers with interest and witticisms.
It is a fact that over time, the best writers, those whose stories have the power to seize and hold the imagination, have been found to be individuals who draw from the reservoir of their own life's experiences and observations. What more priceless learning experience can a writer have than to watch the way a person handles the highs and lows of their lives, and listens to the spontaneity of their words? Those are the strengths to be found in Jon D’Amore’s writings. The moments of truth are always there, and the impact is inescapable.
A founding member of The SoCal Film Group. He's a Software Engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and holds a Master of Science degree in Engineering Mechanics and Astronautics. He's co-author of Perl Debugged, and in Jon's opinion, Ed is a certifiable genius...besides being a class act.
On advice from my lawyer, I state that I have never been to Las Vegas either with or without Jon D’Amore, nor have I ever met Lady Millicent...and that's a damn shame, really.
Jon and I met through The SoCal Film Group, becoming friends during several low budget shoots, a handful of parties and expeditions to face the rabid Death Gerbils of New Guinea. At one party he introduced me to the actor, and his good friend, John Phillip Law, who played Sinbad The Sailor in The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad, one of my favorite classic movies!
This past summer Jon presented me with a copy of The Boss Always Sits In The Back, asking for my opinion...or else. I normally dislike contemporary drama stories, but I read through The Boss in two days. I found it to be a serious tale told as a light comedy that entertains with realistic characters, and finally, a musician's response to the murder of John Lennon.
Not that Jon is completely without flaw; he does owe someone a visit to the Playboy Mansion. Gotta problem with that?
Actress, musician and an amazing talent.
Jon redefines the word persistence. Always working toward perfection, he constantly produces material...and that in itself is inspiring. Furthermore, I simply can't find fault with somebody who insists on always casting me as his female lead. Jon has a wonderful future ahead of him...he's in the game.
Successful as a producer and actress, America is also the voice of Betty on CW's Archie's Weird Mysteries cartoons. Her acting and voice-over talents know no boundaries. Besides those attributes, America is renowned in the industry for her stunt and staged-fighting abilities...along with her infectious smile and sense of humor.
Jon and I met during the taping of a pilot at the CBS Radford Studios. I eventually asked him for a copy of the manuscript for The Boss Always Sits In The Back, but after reading every 5 pages I would call to ask, “Did this really happen?”
“Yes,” was always the reply.
“Come on Jon, did you really do this?”
The life he led blew my mind...and it continues to do so.
After I passed his strenuous audition process, I was allowed to participate in several readings of his screenplays...and I am so happy that I did! Working with Jon has been such a great experience. His ambition, his work ethic, but most importantly it's his 'friendship ethic' that makes him stand out and shine. And I fully intend to shamelessly ride his coattails to the top!