Bringing work home: ‘Everybody wants to be an Italian’ to premier right here

Ellen Leahy 08/27/08More articles
Many former Central New Yorkers carry their homeplace in their heart. Take Todd Slater. Raised in Central New York, he’s now in California; living in Marina Del Ray and working in Hollywood. He’s in the movie business by way of politics in Washington D.C. and then the world of high finance.
“Everybody Wants To Be An Italian (EWTBAI)” is his first film project with his new company, Asgaard Entertainment. Slater brokered an acquisition with Roadside Attractions and Lions Gate Films to release the film on Sept. 5. Guess where? In and around CNY, and more specifically at the Carousel Center in Syracuse.
“This is a film that I thought would be a fun, relevant movie to bring to Upstate New York,” Slater said from his office in Beverly Hills. “Upstate, and Syracuse in particular, is filled with such a strong ethnic base and powerful Italian heritage. The director and the entire team thought that Upstate New York would be an ideal location to open the film.”

Plot and players
EWTBAI was inspired by its director, Jason Todd Ipson’s own experiences of living in Boston and eventually marrying his Italian wife. Early screenings are comparing its energy to the surprise hit, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”
Everybody tells the story of Jake (Jay Jablonski- next seen in “Kids in America”), a lovelorn fishmonger who gets involved in a hilarious case of mistaken ethnicity. It’s been eight years since Jake’s girlfriend left him, and despite the fact that she’s now married with three children, he refuses to move on. Fed up with their depressive pal’s unwillingness to let go of the past, Jake’s friends (John Enos III of “Melrose Place” fame and John Kapelos) set him up on a blind date with a beautiful Italian woman (Cerina Vincent of “Two and a Half Men”). Though Jake is convinced that such a woman would never consider dating a non-Italian, a quick crash course in how to fake it may prove just the trick to helping him learn to love once again.
“Hopefully this is something different than the big studio tent pole films like ‘Iron Man,’ which have been playing all summer. We hope this makes for a fun, romantic, date night out for couples to go see something different. It’s a film that anyone with a bit of ethnic pride, regardless of their background, will find appealing,” Todd said.

But what are Slater’s ties to CNY?
“This is where I’m from. My mom received her Masters from Syracuse University and my father coached at Colgate University for more than 15 years. I may live in Los Angles now, but I will always consider Upstate New York as my home.”
As a matter of record his father, a former All American hockey center at St. Lawrence, became the winningest coach in Colgate University Ice Hockey history; taking the team to the NCAA Division 1 finals in 1989. He passed away at age 54 in December of1991 leaving his wife Agatha and their five children; Todd was the youngest.
“I grew up playing hockey and played all over New England. I still actually play in a mens league and have been asked to skate with jerry Bruckhiemer and the celebrity team out here in LA, which is pretty neat,” Slater said, “Plus I worked for Phil Anschutz (who owns the Staples Center and the LA Kings here in LA) so I am around hockey people all the time still.”
He grew up in Hamilton and later spent time living in Syracuse’s Armory Square neighborhood before moving to Washington, D.C and then the West Coast.

Why film?
He said, it was clearly his passion for movie, media and entertainment that drew him into the business of film.
“Getting a job in finance on the west coast was my step in order to get close to Hollywood and the film industry. I love bringing people together and that is what an effective film producer does,” Todd said, “I like building teams with very skilled players. Much like my father did with ice hockey teams throughout his career.”

Making the deals
Todd was a vice president at Baldwin Entertainment Group (produced “Ray”) before switching to Asgaard Entertainment, so he came in on this film’s production after the finances were raised. But he is essentially in the role of executive producer in regard to putting people together and getting the film into the marketplace.
“I did however sell the film and find the studio distribution partner in Road Side Attractions and Lions Gate,” he said.
The studio distribution partners basically gets the picture into theaters, out on DVD and makes the television deals. Todd also brokered the foreign sales deal on the EWTBAI.
Todd was highlighted in The Hollywood Reporter’s annual “The Next Generation” issue - dedicated to the top executives under 35 years of age in Hollywood. He was also recognized in AD Week magazine for the promotional and branding work.

What does he think of a film office in Syracuse?
“I would love to be involved, as I have been involved in many movies and shot them in places that had great tax incentives (I did “Ray” in New Orleans),” he said. “New York State is really making a push in this department, so i think it makes sense that Syracuse have a film office. Plus it would be a beautiful place to shoot a picture.”

At home in Arnold’s state
Even though CNY remains home in his heart - he does make his home in California.

What are the pros and cons of the Hollywood lifestyle?
The pros are many including righteous weather and a plethora of bright, creative people who are passionate about what they do every day.
“Creativity is always flowing as is the deal-making,” he said.
The negative aspect relates to good writing.
“Finding really good projects that you want to make sometimes are hard to locate. Finding a script is easy in this town,” he said. “Finding a good script is much tougher.”

Would he like to be an Italian?
His origins hail from the British Isles, being of Irish and Scottish decent.
“I know I eat like an Italian, as it’s my favorite food,” he said. “If I didn’t love my own ethnicity, I would love to try on Italian colors any time.”
Look for EWTBAI on Sept. 5 at a theater near you or go to for more information.

TAGS: Todd Slater, Everybody Wants To Be An Italian, Colgate University Ice Hockey,Asgaard Entertainment,Baldwin Entertainment
EDITION: The Eagle

Rating: 2.5/5 (13 votes cast)

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