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Meet The Former and Present Residents of Manhattan Plaza: Tom Fontana



Tom Fontana is a writer and producer who has received multiple awards such as Emmys, Peabodys, Writers’ Guild, Television Critics Association, Humanitas Prize, an Edgar Award, and more. He worked on NBC’s Homicide: Life on the Street and created HBO’s Oz. 

Tom Fontana back in the day photo by David Laundra

His stage debut was in college as an actor in George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan, directed by his frequent mentor, Warren Enters. While working at the Williamstown Theater Festival in the early 1980s, he was offered the opportunity to write for television – the offer coming from Bruce Paltrow who was launching St. Elsewhere on NBC.

Fontana has had numerous plays produced in New York City and at San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater, the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, the Buffalo Studio Arena Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival and McCarter Theatre.

Detective Joe Fontana, Dennis Farina’s character on Law & Order, was named for Tom Fontana. Fontana, became close friends with Law & Order creator Dick Wolf while working as writers in the same building, at the same time, on the series St. Elsewhere (Fontana) and Hill Street Blues (Wolf).

Fontana wrote the HBO film Strip Search, directed by Sidney Lumet. He was the Executive Producer of American Tragedy for CBS; Shot in the Heart for HBO Films; the independent film Jean, and the documentary, The Press Secretary for PBS. Fontana also created the TV series Borgia for the French premium-pay channel Canal+. The series recounts the Borgia family’s rise to power and subsequent domination of the Vatican during the Renaissance. Fontana also co-created Copper an 1860s police procedural set in the turbulent Five Points neighborhood of New York.

Tom Fontana

Fontana does not own or use a computer and writes all of his scripts longhand on a yellow legal pad.

Fontana has written articles for such publications as The New York TimesTV Guide and Esquire and has taught at Columbia, Syracuse, Rutgers and the State University College at Buffalo, his alma mater. He received the Distinguished Alumni Award and an Honorary Doctorate of Letters.

Rita Moreno and Tom Fontana at the Peabody Awards

He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, the Producers Guild of America, and the WGA, East from which he received the Evelyn F. Burkey Award for Lifetime Achievement. Fontana served as Vice-President of the WGA, East from 2005–2007. He is President Emeritus of the WGAE Foundation, commonly known as the Writers Guild Initiative and serves on the boards of The Acting Company, the Williamstown Theatre Festival, DEAL, The New York City Police Museum, Stockings With Care, among others.

T2C: When did you first move to Manhattan Plaza and how did you get into the building?

Tom Fontana:  I don’t remember the exact year, but I moved in fairly early on. I had been living in an apartment in the East Village, which I couldn’t afford. Being a writer and young and foolish, I decided to hitchhike across country, alone. I was gone a couple of months. When I got back to New York, I was broke and sleeping on the couches of friends or being an urban gypsy — taking care of people’s plants and cats when they were out of town, in exchange for a bed. Linda and David Laundra were ensconced in Manhattan Plaza by then and they encouraged me to talk with Rodney Kirk about getting a studio. Miraculously, I was accepted. I paid $52 a month my first year. When my wife (then girlfriend) Sagan moved in, we were given a one bedroom. We thought we’d gone to Heaven.

Tom Fontana and Sagan Lewis

T2C: What made you move out?

Tom Fontana: I went to Hollywood to write “St. Elsewhere”. In time, we hired a business manager, who pointed out that we could turn the money, which we were using to pay fair market value, into a mortgage on our own place. Sagan and I were in tears the day we moved out of MP. We felt such a strong bond with the place.

T2C: As a producer what did you accomplish?

Tom Fontana: I wasn’t a producer back in the day. I was only a lowly writer. That said, David and Linda — with a bunch of talented friends — started a theatre and they foolishly put me on the board, so I did help to get the plays we staged up and running.  

T2C: As a writer how did Manhattan Plaza inspire you?

Tom Fontana: I’d say the biggest inspiration for me was the people who lived there. To know that I was sharing a world with Tennessee Williams, Angela Lansbury, Gloria Graham and Jack Warden, among many other famous folks, made me feel like I could, someday, succeed. But more importantly, those who, like me were struggling in their careers gave me a powerful sense of community. I felt like we were there for each other, in times of need and in times of joy.

T2C: What did living in the building allow you to accomplish? 

Tom Fontana: If I hadn’t gotten into MP, I probably would’ve left New York and given up my dream of being a professional writer.

T2C: What are your fondest memories of living in the plaza?

Tom Fontana: My fondest memories? That’s a tough one, as I have so many.  Maybe the Christmas decorations. I will say that I loved the fact that I could do my laundry on the same floor, as the one where I was living.  

Tom Fontana

T2C: What were the biggest changes to the neighborhood?

Tom Fontana: Manhattan Plaza took a beaten-to-a-pulp area of the city, at a time when New York was on the ropes, and proved that if you bring artists into a neighborhood, flowers will grow.  

T2C: How did living in the building make you feel?

Tom Fontana: I think I answered this above

T2C: What would you change from your time living in Manhattan Plaza?

Tom Fontana: Heaven is Heaven. I wouldn’t change a thing from those days. The place worked because Rodney Kirk and Richard Hunnings treated everyone with respect. Didn’t matter if you were a Broadway star or a humble scribe, in their eyes, you belonged. In a way, MP was almost a cathedral.

T2C: What is your fondest memory of New York?

Tom Fontana: Pizza

The documentary Miracle on 42nd Street, is available on Amazon and will soon be available to stream. 

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email:


Did You Know Andrea Bocelli and Hauser Performed Live from Times Square



Combining world-class musical performances with intimate conversations across the awe-inspiring Italian countryside, The Journey: A Music Special from Andrea Bocelli is an exploration of the moments that define us, the songs that inspire us, and the relationships that connect us to what matters most. The film hits theaters April 2 – 9 and you can watch it through fantom events.

The Journey is an exploration of the moments that define us, the songs that inspire us, and the relationships that connect us to what matters most. Bocelli and his wife Veronica travel on horseback along Italy’s Via Francigena, an ancient road traveled by pilgrims for centuries in the footsteps of the apostles and saints. Along the way, they are joined by friends Michael W. Smith, Tori Kelly, Tauren Wells, and TAYA for world-class musical performances in some of Italy’s most magnificent venues and majestic locations. Following a blessing from the Pope, Bocelli’s children Matteo and Virginia make appearances in this amazing adventure, as well as musicians and singers Katherine Jenkins, Clara Barbier Serrano, 2Cellos, 40 Fingers, and many others.

To celebrate this release Andrea Bocelli and Hauser performed Melodramma live from Times Square.

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Did You Know There Is A Kander & Ebb Way?



On Friday, March 24th, the 96-year-old John Kander was given a Mayoral Proclamation from Mayor Eric Adams in celebration of the first performance of his new Broadway musical New York, New York. Following the proclamation, Lin-Manuel Miranda unveiled the sign renaming 44th Steet ‘Kander & Ebb Way. On hand was the Manhattan School of Music to performed the iconic Kander & Ebb song “New York, New York.”

New York, New York opens Wednesday, April 26, 2023 at Broadway’s St. James Theatre (246 West 44th Street).


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No Longer Is It I Love New York But We Love NYC



Mayor Eric Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul kicked off the “We Love NYC” campaign today.

“This ‘We Love NYC’ campaign will help to capture that energy and preserve the city’s spirit by encouraging New Yorkers of every background to come together, get involved and make a positive change in their community,” Hochul said in a statement. “Listen you guys, in the 1970s things were awful here and crime was at record levels,” Hochul said.

Have they looked at the statistics? For the month of January 2023, the number of overall shooting incidents and murders in New York City stands at a 24-year high. Then there is the migrant problem and DA Alvin Braggs letting criminals run rampant.

“New York is not coming back, New York is back,” stated Adams.

Anna Uzele, who plays Francine Evans inner Broadway musical New York, New York, sang the title song at the launch.

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