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.
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.
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 Times, TV 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.
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.
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.
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.
Midnight Moment For October Presents Circadian Nocturne
In October from 11:57pm – 12am, artist Anna Ridler introduces a new kind of countdown clock in Times Square. Using complex algorithms to explore non-human ways of keeping time, Ridler’s Circadian Nocturnefeatures AI-generated animations of night-blooming and night scented flora – queen of the night cactuses, the moonflower, night-blooming jasmine, night phlox, and evening stock. Painterly petals slowly blossom into a dreamlike garden — chronobiological clocks set against the mechanical and digital structures that set the pace of our contemporary lives.
Created with artificial intelligence and a high-tech machine that can keep time at an atomic level, Circadian Nocturne also pairs modern, highly precise computerized timekeeping methods with the often unpredictable and imprecise imagery created by autonomous digital software and is part of an ongoing project exploring time and technology. Welcoming this tension, Ridler visually obscures tech-based accuracy with something more organic and in sync with the natural landscape.
Launching in the fall, an artist-designed mobile app featuring a smaller, single screen version of the project and an original musical score by composer William Marsey will accompany the Times Square presentation of Circadian Nocturne, allowing for more intimate experience of the work from anywhere in the world.
Based in London, Anna Ridler is an artist and researcher who works with systems of knowledge and how technologies are created in order to better understand the world. She is particularly interested in ideas around measurement and quantification and how this relates to the natural world. Her process often involves working with collections of information or data, particularly datasets, to create new and unusual narratives.
Ridler holds an MA in Information Experience Design from the Royal College of Art and a BA in English Literature and Language from Oxford University along with fellowships at the Creative Computing Institute at University of the Arts London. Her work has been exhibited at cultural institutions worldwide including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Barbican Centre, Centre Pompidou, HeK Basel, the ZKM Karlsruhe, Ars Electronica, Sheffield Documentary Festival and the Leverhulme Centre for Future Intelligence. She was a European Union EMAP fellow and the winner of the 2018-2019 DARE Art Prize. Ridler has received commissions by Salford University, the Photographers Gallery, Opera North, and Impakt Festival. She was listed as one of the nine “pioneering artists” exploring AI’s creative potential by Artnet and received an honorary mention in the 2019 Ars Electronica Golden Nica award for the category AI & Life Art. She was nominated for a “Beazley Designs of the Year” award in 2019 by the Design Museum for her work on datasets and categorization.
Meta builds technologies that help people connect, find communities, and grow businesses. When Facebook launched in 2004, it changed the way people connect. Apps like Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp further empowered billions around the world. Now, Meta is moving beyond 2D screens toward immersive experiences like augmented and virtual reality to help build the next evolution in social technology.
This Saturday A Free Musical Performance Will Accompany The Midnight Moment
On Saturday, September 30, from 11:30pm–12am on Broadway between 45th and 46th Street a free, open-air musical performance will take place to accompany Shahzia Sikander’s Midnight Moment. The show will featuring Pulitzer Prize winning composer Du Yun, vocalist Zeb Bangash, and interdisciplinary artist eddy kwon.
Every midnight in September, a cyclical struggle unfolds across the screens of Times Square. Imagined as a restaging of a fictional Indo-Persian-Turkish miniature painting, Shahzia Sikander’s Reckoning depicts a dramatic choreography of floating warrior-like figures entangled in joust amidst an abstract, unraveling landscape. Reckoning draws upon themes of creation, conflict, and connection, mirroring the universal tensions that exist within broader global relationships, such as between migrant and citizen, woman and power, human and nature.
An intricate animation made from multiple layered drawings, Reckoning was created in 2020 and featured as a digital component of Sikander’s recent public art project Havah … to breathe, air, life commissioned by Madison Square Park Conservancy and on view in Madison Square Park and the nearby Courthouse of the Appellate Division, First Department of the Supreme Court of the State of New York. The multi-site project was commissioned by Madison Square Park Conservancy and Public Art of the University of Houston System, where it will be restaged in the fall of 2023.
September’s Midnight Moment is presented in partnership with Sean Kelly and The Armory Show as a part of Armory Off-Site, the fair’s outdoor art program featuring large-scale artworks across New York City’s parks and public spaces. Sikander’s work will also be on view in the Platform section of The Armory Show, curated by Eva Respini, which will feature large-scale installations and site-specific works that reexamine historical narratives.
The animation for Reckoning is by Patrick O’Rourke and an original score was created by Du Yun, both long-time collaborators of Sikander. The work marks Sikander’s second Midnight Moment, the first being Gopi-Contagion presented in October of 2015.
Indigenous Climate Warriors in Times Square
(Photo by Honor the Earth)
On Tuesday September 19, 2023, the Indigenous peoples took to the frontlines of the climate crisis on Turtle Island and took over Times Square painting a giant mural with the message, “No Green Colonialism; Land Back NOW!”
This mural came the day before the UN Climate Ambition Summit, where world leaders are expected to come together and make decisions around the climate crisis.
The Indigenous communities are organizing to push back on the Biden Administration’s push toward solutions to the climate crisis that threaten the lives of Indigenous people across Turtle Island, which they call “Green Colonialism.” “For too long, Native lands and communities have borne the brunt of harm from mining and other extractive industries. As the federal government moves to support clean energy development, this cannot come at the expense of clean water or Indigenous rights. This familiar assault on Native lands and communities is another wave of colonialism, and we will not stand by and allow our lands to be sacrificed,” Krystal Two Bulls, executive director of the national Indigenous organization Honor the Earth said in a press release.
We should all be fighting this fight!
Sunday’s Broadway Forever Concert Postponed Until October 15
Today, Broadway Forever announced that the Sunday, September 24th concert will be postponed to Sunday, October 15th at 11:00AM due to expected severe weather in New York City. The Sunday, October 15th concert will take place at Lou Gehrig Plaza in the Bronx (East 161st Street, Grandview Place).
A complete line up of appearances and performances will be announced soon.
For the second consecutive year, NY Forever, in partnership with City National Bank, the New York City Department of Transportation and 161st Street Business Improvement District presents Broadway Forever,empowering New Yorkers across the city to build a better city for all.
Fans will have the opportunity to sign up for future community service opportunities in all five boroughs, which will be coordinated by New York Cares and their partner organizations.
Broadway stars performing throughout New York City celebrate the creativity and resilience that is intrinsic to the city – and provide an opportunity to recognize the volunteers and community organizers who work hard to make New York a better place. The concerts will bring Broadway entertainment to DOT’s Public Space Programming, a city initiative that brings free activities to public spaces.
The events are produced and staged by 6W Entertainment, with additional support from New York Cares and the Times Square Alliance.
For more information about City National, visit the company’s website at cnb.com.
TerrorVision Opens To Scare You More Than New York Ever Could
Last night TerrorVision – Live Screaming Your Nightmares, an immersive haunted house flickers to life at Horrorwood Studios, 300 West 43rd. Expect to scream as you go behind the filming of the upcoming TerrorVision Halloween episode. Things go terribly awry, the screen shatters and guests are suddenly cast as the unwitting new star, as gruesome creatures seek to attack around every corner. Snow, wind, giant creatures and special effects will invade your senses. Over 140 actors inhabit the world of TerrorVision, which is over 20,000 square of darkened hallways, haunted rooms, passageways and fright, making it one of the largest theatrical experiences in New York City.
In 2022, TERROR premiered their first horror endeavor, NYC’s largest haunted house, ‘BEDLAM’, in the former Ripley’s Believe it or Not on West 42nd Street, selling more than 20,000 tickets and running for 19 days.
The team behind TerrorVision has designed for the some of the largest horror experiences in the industry, ranging from theme parks to Broadway productions, and large immersive events in NYC and in Europe. Co-artistic directors Will Munro and Katie McGeoch have spent more than two decades as the heads of Six Flags’ Fright Fest.
Tickets, begin at $39, are available at www.facetheterror.com, with early bird pricing available until September 19.
The cool part is you can choose your level of Terror: General Admission – This is the standard level of scary, heart pounding fun. “Chicken” ticket – This allows guests to wear a special amulet to become “invisible” to the monsters. This is perfect for those who do not want to be touched by the ghouls, though still get some residual scares. And the Ultimate Terror – Suited for the most brave guests only, this upgrade will ensure you’re targeted throughout the experience. Bring a change of underwear, you’re going to need it.
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