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TV Review: Kings of South Beach

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On a cold February night in 1993, Chris Ludwigsen sat behind the wheel of what would become the getaway car involved in the robbery and homicide of Mrs. Judy Shemtov, a Staten Island housewife. In late 2006, the same man – who took his mother’s maiden name of Paciello – was reportedly seen partying in Los Angeles. What happened in the years in between is the subject of the original feature film Kings of South Beach (airs on A & E – Monday, March 12, 2007 – 9:00 EST).

Written by Nicholas Pileggi (Goodfellas, Casino) and directed by Tim Hunter (Carnivale, Cold Case, Homicide: Life on the Street), Kings of South Beach is the story of Paciello’s influence on the 1990s glory years of Miami’s nightclub scene. The KoSB script renames him as Chris Troiano (Jason Gedrick), and covers not only his involvement in revitalizing South Beach’s nightlife but also his connection with drugs, money laundering, and the mob.

Troiano’s closest confidantes are his business partner Olivia (Nadine Velazquez of My Name is Earl), and a newer friend, club bouncer Andy Burnett (Donnie Wahlberg). Every night is a party at their wildly popular club, Liquid, peopled with club kids, drug kids, and Miami glitterati.

The acting is mostly top notch; Gedrick (Promised Land, Backdraft, EZ Streets, Boomtown), is believable as the charming but confrontational Troiano and Wahlberg (Boomtown, The Sixth Sense, Band of Brothers), as the right hand man Burnett, is a good mix of tense street smart muscle. Velazquez and the rest of the cast are fine as well.

The story itself is an interesting one, but it’s telling is jeopardized by uneven writing and direction. The club scenes seem too forced; a scene where actors portraying Madonna and Donatella and Gianni Versace are introduced and depicted as intimates of Chris and Olivia doesn’t really ring true. A shame, as the real life Olivia was Ingrid Casares, the party girl daughter of a wealthy Cuban family, and romantically linked with Madonna. Her story alone is quite compelling.

Another scene with two Russian thugs showing up at Chris’s office promised some excitement; one thug shatters a framed publicity write-up on the floor, pours booze on it, lights it on fire, and then pisses on the flames. However, the stilted dialogue and accents of the Russians dilute the tension as much as the urine dilutes the fire.

And to show the contradictory lifestyles between Andy and Chris early in their relationship, scenes that alternated between Chris and some gorgeous babe frolicking in his pool and Andy watching TV in his rundown apartment come off as silly instead of sexy. Also, frequent girl-girl smooching was not as hot as it could have been. The mediocre soundtrack doesn’t help either.

It seems as if this has been a tough story to get to the screen; other projects on this case have begun, such as the adaptation of Michele McPhee’s book, Mob over Miami, into the film Unmade Man. This offering is currently listed on IMDb.com as in pre-production and stars Antonio Sabato Jr. in the lead role, with Vincent Pastore along for the ride.

Another question mark is King of Clubs, said to star Mario Lopez as Paciello, with Tom Sizemore and John C. McGinley. This may be the project that reported in Variety, falling apart because of legal and financial reasons.

Initially Paciello was remanded to his mother’s home on Staten Island under house arrest. He was also reported as being in a Federal Witness Protection program, and was said to have spent the last eight years in a federal prison. And who knows where he will end up; rumors have him staying in LA to become an actor, or moving on to Las Vegas.

I don’t think Vegas needs any more Kings.

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About MaryKay

  • aaxcel paul

    This bitch is full of shit. schiro (scarpa) and his cunt friends all should have died. Vinnie oil and his sons were and are shit. The mob equivalent of trailer trash. We stayed tough for two years. Fapp sent my most trusted friend to my house to kill me, I stayed up all night and let him know if he made a move I would piss on his grave. We asked for cash to pay our lawyers and after years of paying up we were told they had no money. This wop cock sucker made me chase scarpa and his prick friends on my own. Joey De Angelo was a cast iron guy, he understood balls and loyalty. This cunt wrote a work of fiction the real story lies with us the people who lived it. We locked vinnie oils son in a closet for hours, We scared the the bosses of the Gambino family into there basements, pink bows on dogs, stolen garbage for identification, explosives,our own bosses scared and running for cover. You want a book ,OK, Moon Over Miami is not it. The real world is much more intresting.The real world takes much more balls. Paciello is a cunt. We were the cigarette bandits, we head to head with the NYC cops and won. The cunt who wrote this book is nothing but that… a cunt who pumped the the rat who brought the men, the real men who held out till the end, down. In the end I,Frankie Fapp, Joey DeAngelo, Joseph Abdenour(Joey Scalla)had no choice, life, or join team USA. If it wasn’t for legit cocksuckers like her we would have of been looking at ten years…any tough guy can do ten on there heads… 79 is another story. Fuck her,Fuck Carl Fudger, Fuck Linda Schiro, fuck vinnie oil and his pussy sons, Fuck Valerie Mazza, and all the cock suckers who helped the US DOJ. If you want the real story I WIL RETURN.

  • http://dracutweblog.blogspot.com Mary K. Williams

    AaxcelPaul – So, you knew all those boys? Sounds like a rough time. Hope things are more peaceful now.

  • bald headed kid

    i never really knew what happened to you guys or why all of you guys went into the protection program funny i never knew joey 101 as joey scalla

  • corrrine

    I LOVE MY COUSIN CHRIS

  • corrrine

    CALL ME CHRIS ITS UR COUSIN CORRINE

  • George Ludwigsen Sr.

    Chris hope life is treating you well.Wood realy like to hear from you,drop me a line.Can reach me through Bobby at light house list [Personal contact info deleted]

  • fourthwardbrian

    Chris is a douchebag. I knew him as a little boy. Had I known how it would’ve turned out I might have run him over. Aren’t you being a little Hard on Vinnie, (Vinnie the Killer as we joking called him in USP Lewisburg) After all he did rid the world of a fucking disease. I don’t know Paul but I like his Fucking style.

  • NFB

    I personnally think you are all fucking rats, what the fuck are you guys blogging about. You guys obviously never learned the first rule, keep your eyes and your ears open and your mouth shut. Shut the fuck up! I know first hand that, that jerkoff Paul has the fucking biggest mouth going, everybody knew what the fuck was going after he got a few drinks and some coke into him! He was so fucking wacked all the time he has his facts wrong. I know the facts as they really happened not all disorted or delusional. You are one of the rats who brought us all down, if it wasn’t for your big mouth maybe the feds would have never gotten any leads in the first place. You were nothing but a cigarette theif exactly as you said with dreams of grandeur. You wanted to try and be like your 2-bit father a fucking “wannabe”. You and Joey A didn’t have the balls to do anything. I was the one with the ball! I walked around with them in a wheel barrow. This lady Mary is just writing as she was probably told it by that other fucking jerkoff Chris P. – a glorified asshole! I knew his dad for back in the days, great guy as far as I’m concerned. I’ll get back to you all to debunk the bullshit and set the record straight. If anybody wants a book or movie I got it…

  • http://dracutweblog.blogspot.com Mary K. Williams

    NFB – thanks for the input. Just for the record, I have never met Chris or any others mentioned in this movie. I had never heard of them or the Staten Island murder case, or the issues in Miami. My only connection is that I had the chance to review this TV movie, did a little research and that’s it.

  • bald headed kid

    nfb is correct joe and paul were nothing but cigarette thiefs at best lol….nfb u sound like carl fudger if it u then whats up rat!!!!!you guys were all rats!!!!!!!!you know who this is