Tonight I started Kitty’s backstory. I decided to do something interesting. Throughout the series, I tell each story through Drake’s point of view, utilizing voice over technique. Tonight, I decided to do this with Kitty. I am not sure it works, but we will see. It is indeed a compelling backstory as Kitty is a compelling character. Kitty is tough as nails, brash, opinionated and won’t back down from a fight. As I have gotten to know this character, I have found myself laughing with her at her quirkiest moments and cheering for her in her most downtrodden times. There are some interesting similarities with her and a British Snooker Player I created for the sequel to my screenplay Derby Double, but I think Kitty is far more polished.
She is a character that would like to change her past and make a better life for herself. Drake gives her that opportunity and she is loyal and someone he would be happy to share a foxhole with. She has his back and he definitely has hers. I have never written a character quite like Kitty Lange. She is Fiona Glenanne times five. The story of how Kitty came to be, along with how I came up with her backstory are interesting.
A number of years ago, I was reworking Drake’s original screenplay. During one my rewrites, I brought in a character who I planned as Drake’s temporary girlfriend. I wanted a jealousy factor for his ex wife Harriett. The original intention was to have her in a few scenes and then it would end as Drake realized he always loved his wife. How things have changed. That’s not my idea at all now.
One day I was re-reading a scene where Harriett meets at Drake’s yacht. It becomes apparent that Drake has moved on from Harriett and she doesn’t like it one bit. I’m not sure what it was about this scene, or whether Kitty was talking to me, but the possibilities to expand Kitty’s character into something much more, intrigued me. So I trashed my draft and rewrote my movie so I could utilize her. Doing this meant I had to come up with a backstory. However, this backstory had to mean something. It couldn’t be something put together haphazardly. After the backstory Kitty became a character that was much more alive, gave some punch to the movie and provided some kick ass humor when needed. All good strong qualities. One thing was missing, I needed her vulnerability, because there is a facade with Kitty. She appears all tough on the surface, but it’s a defense mechanism, so Drake won’t think she’s weak and that she can handle anything that’s thrown her way. She hides that weakness through her outer strength. Her weakness is the part that aches for Drake.
Kitty’s backstory came to me around the time I had become fascinated with Joe Capeci’s organized crime website. I found a story on the New England Mafia. This brought back memories of my time living on the North Shore of Massachusetts. Genarro Anguilo and one of his main guys Ilario Zannino had just been arrested on Rico charges. Anguilo was the Patriarca Under boss. He pretty much he ran the North End of Boston, while Whitey Bulger ran Southie. Of course now we all know from Martin’s Scorcese’s The Departed(Loosely based on the Bulger story) that Bulger fed Whitey Bulger John Connolly huge information on Anguilo to get him out his hair. Then the big scandal happened.
It was the summer of 1986 and Zannino’s trial was televised on the news. It was riveting and very frightening. The man barely spoke English and what little he did say was terrifying. He went as far as to threaten the Judge. I remember thinking, thank God this guy is behind bars.
The same year, I had met this really strange friend of my roommate. A very hyperactive fellow. His mother had dated New England Mafia Don Raymond Patriarca. His stories were definitely riveting. As this all came back to me, I remembered how I loved the Mass accent. It was fresh and rich with flavor. There’s an interesting twinge of Irish and Italian twang to it. Even parts of New Hampshire have it, and I love it. This had to be where Kitty was from.
When I write, I love irony. Most movie and television ideas come from irony. Irony or what I like to call the what if factor become a large part of the story. This is what came out.
What if Drake had a female partner with a checkered past? Her name was Kitty Lange, but that wasn’t her real name. She had an entirely different name, not by choice, but by circumstance.
Kitty’s life had not been easy. Like Drake, she grew up an orphan, (She relates to Drake.) due to her parents deaths. Her father, Little Louis Faltagio a mob associate, had a passion for classic cars. He ran an auto body shop as a front for a chop shop operation. He married a mob Capo’s sister. Big Pauli Petrocelli. A fair Capo, who prefers a sit down to killing anyone, unless it is completely necessary.(In a future blog I will talk about Big Paulie and how he impacted Kitty’s life and many other characters in the series.)
Kitty’s mother Serena is hit by a drunken Bus Driver. Before he is arrested, the Bus Driver mysteriously disappears. Her father Louis, turns to drink and becomes sloppy with stolen cargo. Mob Boss Carlo Bonavigna orders Big Paulie to kill his brother in law. Paulie won’t. He’s seen too much violence in Vietnam, and feels Louis made a mistake and should get a pass. Carlo feels he has been disrespected by Big Paulie and has Little Louis whacked anyway, enraging Big Paulie. Now he wants the top seat and he plans to get it. Barbara Faltagio(Kitty) and her brother Matty, move in with her Uncle Paulie and her Aunt Marie. Barbara pretty much grows up around the mob lifestyle and of course is introduced to up and coming mob stars during her formative years. She meets Carlo’s son, Ricky a bad egg. She falls for him and the two start dealing drugs. The FBI pinch them and present compelling evidence to prove Carlo killed her father. She flips, enters the federal witness protection program, is given the name Kitty Lange and she moves to Baltimore to be near her brother Matty. The FBI help Kitty look for work. Her skills are pretty limited. However, Kitty has someone watching over her. An Uncle she has never met. Behind the scenes, this Uncle calls on a priest he knows, named Father Michael Barry.(Originally from Kitty’s neighborhood.) Father Mike, hires Kitty as a secretary, but after a few months, she is so bad, he can’t take it anymore. He pawns her off on Drake, looking for someone to answer the phones. The first meeting between the two definitely makes an impression on Drake. Kitty calls on him while he is being ambushed by some mysterious men. Rather than sit by and let Drake be beaten to a pulp, Kitty uses all her street smarts from Medford Mass and kicks the snot out of them. Drake is suitably impressed. He figures she is too valuable to waste on the phones, so he makes a deal, she can be a PI in training if once in a while, she can take a few phone calls. This leads to a new life for Kitty. One where she can redeem herself and give back. That is, if her past doesn’t come back to haunt her and Drake must never know about her past.
This evening, I touched up a rough draft of Kitty’s back story.
KITTY LANGE driving fast, eyes straight ahead on the road. SPEEDOMETER, 95.
My Aunt Marie always used to say, be
careful what you wish for, you just might
get it. She said it to me a thousand times
and she was always right. I should have
listened to Aunt M.
THE LIGHTS OF MOSUL.
My Aunt Marie Petrocelli, she’s what you
call clairvoyant. She’s gets these feelings.
I don’t know where they come from, but she
knows. She certainly saw my Ma’s death
before any of us.
INT. MEDFORD MALL GROCERY STORE SOMETIME IN THE 1980’S-DAY
SERENA FALTAGIO, a petite woman with long dark brown hair, wheels a GROCERY CAR through the aisle. TWO YEAR OLD MATTY FALTAGIO a handful. He grabs at cookies, crackers and anything that interests him. SERENA snatches the cookies and puts them back.
No Matty, you can’t have that.
SERENA TOSSES PASTA items in the cart. She looks up. Panic.
Oh Jesus Christ! Barbara where are you?
SHE WHEELS MATTY around the store, until she sees her FIVE YEAR OLD DAUGHTER BARBARA staring at a BIKE in the store across the mall. She longs for it.
SERENA, throws her hands up. BARBARA too entranced with the bike. SERENA snatches BARBARA’S HAND.
A firm tug. BARBARA’S not budging.
I want a bike. That bike.
BARBARA, a hopeful glint in her eye.
Barbara you’re not getting a bike.
I want a bike.
When your older. Now come along, we
have to get home and get super on the
table for your father.
SERENA tugs her back into the store. BARBARA breaks out in a wild tantrum. SERENA slaps her across the face.
Barbara, I’m not putting up with it.
EXT. MALL PARKING LOT-MOMENTS LATER
SERENA WHEELS HER CART OUT OF THE MALL INTO THE PARKING LOT. MATTY holds a balloon. A BURST OF WIND snatches it and escapes to the sky. MATTY soft sobs and then screams.
She follows his finger to the sky. The balloon hangs in a tree and the a loud POP. MATTY still screaming. SERENA offers MATTY a lollypop. MATTY grabs it and the the tantrum stops.
EXT. MEDFORD STREET-DAY
A BUS swerves wildly and speeds through a red light, missing a collision by inches. CARS BLARE. AM IMPISH BUS DRIVER offers his finger in response. The BUS DRIVER in his rearview mirror. PASSENGERS occupied with the sights. The BUS DRIVER reaches into his coat pocket. A FLASK OF ALCOHOL, Another look up. PASSENGER’S OCCUPIED. Good. A quick snort. An increase of speed. A sharp wild turn into the MALL PARKING LOT.
MALL PARKING LOT-DAY.
BARBARA steps off the curb and runs towards a beat of CHEVY.
Barbara, what are you doing? I’ve told you
to look both ways.
BARBARA defiant turns around and sticks her tongue out.
I’m going to the car.
BARBARA runs into heavy traffic. SERENA PANICS, leaves MATTY in the cart and tears off after her. THE BUS speeds. A wild turn. BARBARA reaches the CHEVY. She turns, looks back. A loud bump. SERENA thrown into the street. THE DRIVER, a look of panic. PASSENGER’S horrified. Screams. “PULL OVER, PULL OVER.” He turns a deaf ear and drives wildly out of the parking lot. BARBARA, eyes wide open. Horror. SERENA, in the street.
MATTY screams. BARBARA runs to SERENA’S side. BLOOD everywhere. Bruises on her head, face and lips.
BARBARA shakes her. Nothing. A crowd forms. A kind ELDERLY GENTLEMAN approaches.
Someone call 911.
A YOUNG WOMAN dressed in JEANS bolts into the MALL and enters a clothing store. She approaches THE STORE CLERK.
WOMAN DRESSED IN JEANS.
There’s been a hit and run. Someone call
THE STORE CLERK gets on the phone.
Yes I’d like to report an accident.
THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN reaches down for BARBARA.
What’s your name precious?
Barbara Faltagio. I live on Cornsilk Road
Now don’t worry, we’re going to get your
Ma some help.
MOMENTS LATER an AMBULANCE FOLLOWED BY POLICE. The POLICE OFFICER pushes through the crowd and interrogates witnesses.
MOMENTS LATER, A DODGE ROADSTER screeches into the parking lot. LITTLE LOUIS FALTAGIO, a young man with a pudgy build with thick dark hair pushes through the crowd. He reaches the AMBULANCE. PARAMEDICS WHEEL her to the AMBULANCE. LITTLE LOUIS firm grip on the gurney.
That’s my wife. Is she gonna be okay.
The PARAMEDIC blank stare. He rolls a white sheet over her face. LITTLE LOUIS knows what that means. A sharp pain inside.
My father, Little Louis Faltagio ran a chop
shop for my Uncle Paulie. He was a good
earner and always was one step ahead of the
LITTLE LOUIS falls on top of SERENA and sobs.
Paulie always thought highly of my father.
He thought he was smart enough to run his
own crew, but he declined when the books
were opened up. All he wanted was to work
on his cars and he did a job and saw a small
taste that was fine.
The PARAMEDICS pull LITTLE LOUIS away. He drops to his knees. His life has been ripped apart.
EXT. BIG PAULIE’S MEDFORD.
A nice house with a POOL.
The night my Ma died, things changed.
My father devastated. He knew what
was to happen and he thought he should
do it. But blood runs thicker than
INT. BIG PAULIE’S LIVING ROOM.
LITTLE LOUIS paces and clenches his fists. BIG PAULIE, as large as his name with fading brown hair, a big nose and LARGE crystal blue eyes. He studies LITTLE LOUIS, he’s on edge, ready to blow.
You have to tell me his name Paulie.
I want this son of a bitch!
LITTLE LOUIS, losing it and ready for action. BIG PAULIE grabs him and gives him a warm hug, lets him go, stares at him a moment and cracks him hard across the face.
What have you got? Nuts for brains?
Tears well up in his eyes. LITTLE LOUIS doesn’t understand.
Paulie, haven’t I always been loyal to you?
Louis, understand I’ll do what we can for
you, but Barbara and little Matty, they
have to have their father.
It ain’t right Pauli!
Louis, How’s this gonna look? Serena
was my sister. If I don’t act…Jesus
Christ, that stugots Carlo is gonna see
me as soft. I got a reputation here as
as a fair Capo. We will handle this Louis,
the way we always handle it. Come here.
BIG PAULIE puts his arms out. LOUIS receives a giant bear hug.
You go home. You do what’s right. You
take care of my niece and my nephew.
They’re gonna need you, like I do.
BIG PAULIE hands him a handkerchief. LITTLE LOUIS wipes his eyes.
Thank you Paulie. I don’t know what I
would do without you.
BIG PAULIE watches LITTLE LOUIS leave. The phone rings. BIG PAULIE picks it up.
Marco, you got him? No, I just didn’t
expect it to be that fast. Don’t worry I
have that worked out.
EXT. SHORELINE BAR HARBOR MAINE-EVENING
A secluded BOAT DOCK. A LINCOLN pulls up.
True to his word, Big Paulie did make
the drunk disappear. No one knows where,
Big Paulie took the story to his grave.
BIG PAULIE gets out, followed by two MUSCLE BOUND THUGS.
They open the trunk. THE HACKED BODY OF THE BUS DRIVER. They wrap him in a sheet and tie him with chains and cement and carry him onto a boat. BIG PAULIE behind the wheel steers the boat to the middle of the water. He turns off the engine and the three men dump his body in the water and watch him sink. MARCO, sneers shakes his head and laughs.
BIG PAULIE slaps his face.
You think this is fun and games for me
Marco. I don’t know why he drank, he
obviously had problems. He probably had
a family. Kids maybe, who knows.
Sorry Paulie, I was just…
Have a little respect. He was victim of
circumstance. Dumb luck. Sometimes it
happens, but this is what is our life.
BIG PAULIE starts the engine and steers the boat back towards shore. BIG PAULIE, a long remorseful stare at sea.
Don’t get me wrong, I will never condone
the sins of my Uncle. He and Aunt M
adopted me. To my brother and I, Uncle
Paulie was the best. He did what he
had to do. If he could do it with
a sit down rather than violence, then
he was knew he had respect and he was
doing his job right.
EXT. LITTLE LOUIS BODY SHOP-EVENING.
A LARGE TRUCK with brand new fancy cars pulls in front of the shop. LITTLE LOUIS in the front seat staring at a picture of SERENA.
My father never did get over the death
of my Ma.
LITTLE LOUIS snatches a bottle by the seat and guzzles.
He started drinking, which didn’t sit none
too well with Uncle Paulie. one night he
got sloppy and left a shipment of stolen
cars for the cops to find.
LITTLE LOUIS passes out at the wheel. The HORN BLARES. Lights from the neighborhood turn on. A police car pulls up and finds LOUIS passed out. They drag him out and question him. They take him away in cuffs.
Everyone in the chop shop was pinched, except
Big Paulie. When Carlo Bonavigna found out,
the traditional sit down had to happen.
EXT. CESARE’S RESTAURANT-MALDEN
Two solid gold Cadillac’s pull up. BIG PAULIE, dressed to the nines gets out followed by a heavy crew of men dressed equally as sharp. He enters the restaurant and finds CARLO BONAVIGNA, a tall wiry man, the same age with slicked back hair and a nice pressed WHITE SUIT WITH A RED CARNATION in the lapel. STANDING around are his own men, just as rugged at BIG PAULIE’S. A WARM HUG AND THE TRADITIONAL HUG and kiss on the cheek.
Paulie. So good of you to come. Let’s mange
and then we’ll talk.
THEY SIT DOWN.
We watch them eat converse and drink wine.
It was all about my Father. Carlo was a
stubborn bastard and if you didn’t respect
him, you had problems. He wasn’t above
whacking anybody. Carlo didn’t care if
it was in the papers. He wanted everyone
to know who the big boss was. Paulie
wasn’t like that. He didn’t want
the feds prying.
A heated conversation. CARLO throws down his napkin in disgust.
You got a lot of palle Paulie and I
don’t like it. Are you gonna do this
thing for me or am I gonna have to
solve your problems for ya.
Carlo in Nam, all I thought about when
was family. You ain’t got nothing if you
ain’t got family. Louis lost his wife,
my sister. He wasn’t thinking straight.
He should be given a pass.
You know this thing of ours. You took
a blood oath.
BIG PAULIE rises to his feet and throws his own napkin. He towers over CARLO.
Times have changed, maybe some rules should
CARLO holds a steely gaze on BIG PAULIE.
You got big trouble my friend. Big
Always gotta have the last word Carlo
right. You know I’ve never taken crap
from you. When you used to steal milk
money from Father Michael Barry, I kicked
your ass. I’ll do it again.
BIG PAULIE throws some money on the table for a tip.
There’s your meal Godfather, have a nice
After the meeting, the result was inevitable.
Big Paulie paid my father’s bail, so he could
work on the cars. My father loved the cars.
LITTLE LOUIS works on THE ENGINE of a beautiful CAMERO. The back door busts open, two masked men draw pistols and rain bullets into LITTLE LOUIS. LITTLE LOUIS lies on the floor, BLOOD all over. The smaller of the MASKED MEN, stuffs some money in his mouth and we hear a car tear off.
KITTY glances behind her. The SUV barrel down on her tail.
Big Paulie never told me what happened to
my father. I didn’t find out until I
took up with Carlo’s son Ricky. Paulie
wasn’t happy about that. You see Ricky
and I started dealing smack. It didn’t
take the FBI long to pinch us. They had
an informant who knew how my father died.
That’s all it took to cut a deal. For
the last five years I’ve been in the
federal witness protection program
repenting my sins. Be careful what you
wish for you just might get it. Aunt
Marie was right, I wanted to change my
life and I can’t seem to get away from