NJ producer looking for ‘Unsuited’ suitor for pilot with Dan Lauria and Tony Denison
Imagine you live somewhere in "middle-class" New Jersey, and your father wants to leave you the family electrical business. But you don't want to inherit the family business, as many of your friends have; you want to become a champion poker player. The only problem with this, despite what your friends may tell you, is that you suck at poker.
And that is the premise of a pilot called "Un$uited," which is being produced by Tom Baldinger of 624 Productions, which is the same company behind "Beer League 2".
Among the cast is Tony Denison, who among his many credits are Ray Luca in the Michael Mann 80s' drama "Crime Story," John Raglin in the "Wiseguy," which many feel was a precursor to "The Sopranos," and Detective Lt. Anthony Flynn in both "The Closer" and "Major Crimes."
Also in the cast is Dan Lauria, whose many credits include playing Jack Arnold on The Wonder Years, and Vince Lombardi on Broadway.
Baldinger is a frequent guest on my show, and he opened up about his latest venture.
Tell us about "Unsuited":
The story is about a young man named Greg Mucha (played by Michael Satow), who lives in a small town in New Jersey where all the local businesses are family owned and handed down from one generation to the next.
Greg decides to give up his inheritance to move to Las Vegas and become a professional poker player. Unbeknownst to him, he is the worst player to ever play the game. His friends and family are begging him not to go through with his plans. In fact, his father threatens to cut him off completely if he leaves.
Who's in it? Brief background on the cast.
Michael Satow plays Greg. His two closest friends in New Jersey are played by Ronnie Marmo, and Mark Riccadonna.
Tony Denison plays Greg’s father, and Dan Lauria plays Greg’s grandfather.
Greg’s sister is played by Janelle Gaeta, and her best friend is played by Jackie Burns. Charlie Hudson is playing Greg’s successor in his father’s business, and Carmine Giovinazzo is playing Greg’s nemesis in Las Vegas. 4-time World Series Poker Championship, Tom McEvoy, is guest starring in the pilot as himself, along with some other professional poker players who are wearing the WSOP bracelet. We are incredibly fortunate to have such a talented cast!
How did you come up with the idea for the pilot?
UN$UITED was the idea of our executive producer, Kent Radford. Kent and I talked about the idea during COVID. We sat down on Zoom calls and started writing a film… even a short film version. But as we were writing and the story was unfolding, we realized that there was more to these characters and that it would fit better as a TV Series.
What kind of reaction has it gotten?
We’ve shown it to some industry folks and a test audience, and everyone has said that the story, the cast, and the production value are great! So, we feel good about it so far. Last year we showed it to a few folks out at the World Series of Poker, and their feedback was positive as well. Look, you don’t have to be a poker player to follow Greg’s journey or the other characters' journeys. Kent and I wrote the characters and the story to be relatable. We didn’t want to get too much into the weeds of poker, but at the same time, we wanted to make sure we stayed true to the game. That’s where folks like Tom McEvoy came in to act as a consultant on set.
We shot about 90% of the Pilot in New Jersey in areas like Somerset County, Monmouth County, and even in Atlantic City. In fact, we shot at the Showboat on the 2nd floor where we re-created a casino. We did go out to Las Vegas for two days to shoot a few scenes.
Where do you go from here?
We will be screening the pilot at the World Series of Poker this summer during their main event to buyers and media. Our intention is to partner with a buyer, whether it be a gaming industry company or another production company. Kent and I mapped out a 5-season series for 'UN$UITED', so the content is there. Our cast has been incredibly supportive and itching to make this into a full series, whether it be on a streaming service or network TV.
There really hasn’t been a TV series that lives in the poker world that general audiences can enjoy and connect to, while at the same time the poker community can enjoy just as much. There have been some great movies that accomplished this like 'Rounders' and 'Molly's Game'.
We want to do the same thing on TV with “UN$UITED”.
To see the NSFW trailer for "UN$UITED" click here.
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise only. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
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