New Yorkers take our pizza seriously.
Everybody has an opinion. And a passionate one. Who has the best slice? The best pie? Where is the real original Ray’s? Then there’s how to eat it.
John Travolta’s “pizza strut” in Saturday Night Fever was a thing of beauty. Two slices, layered and expertly folded in a single-handed grip. Then there’s the fork-and-knife approach. The sight of Donald Trump delicately digging into his own two slices at a 2011 photo op was enough to send Jon Stewart off the rails. “Why don't you just take that fork and stick it in New York's eye?"
But nobody takes New York pizza more seriously than the city’s pizza makers. At Lombardi’s, Totonno’s, John’s and Juliana’s, the descendants of the original “Four Families” are carrying on an art form their great-grandfathers and great-grand-uncles introduced - not just to New York, but to the world. Through generations of fierce competition, these rival clans - and the thousands of newcomers they’ve inspired - have survived family feuds, mob interference, cutthroat legal battles and grueling hours in front of a 850-degree oven, all for the privilege of serving you your pizza.
THE ORIGINAL is a love letter to these pizza makers, the storefront “stick men,” artisans and entrepreneurs who transformed an Old World tradition into the must-have New York dish that conquered the globe - and turned our city into the pizza mecca that it is today. It’s an immigrant success story, a legendary tale of gangsters and greed, a playful dive into pop history and a pizza lover’s dream.
A first-person narrative, this 90-minute documentary will feature one-on-one conversations with New York’s pizza royalty - each with a personality bigger than the next. We’ll sit down with old school masters and celebrated newcomers alike, each interview lovingly photographed while these craftsmen pour over family photos around the dinner table or stoke the glowing embers of their wood-fired ovens. Their stories will be the backbone of our film - a time-tripping journey of a once-maligned street food that launched a $134 billion industry.
Of course, we’ll also hear from others who take their ‘za seriously – iconic New York celebrities, authors, food critics and average Joes. Combined, their insights and nostalgia-tinged observations will underscore the outsized role pizza has played for generations of New Yorkers. But the star of the show will always be the men and women behind the counter, proud pizzaioli calling on centuries of tradition with every pie.
As a broadcast journalist and documentarian, Tracy has written and produced non-fiction series and news programs for several major networks, including NBC, CNN, ABC and PBS. As a field producer for CNN’s “The Next List,” Tracy traveled to England, Kenya, Brazil, Guatemala, Costa Rica and throughout the U.S. to produce a series of half-hour profiles of the scientists, activists and other “agents of change” whose innovations are revolutionizing the way we live. Working with the independent film company, The Duncan Group, she produced two longform documentaries: the 3-part nonpartisan series “The Reagan Presidency,” and the 1-hour documentary “Landslide: A Portrait of President Herbert Hoover,” both for PBS. She also produced “Battle for the Classroom,” an oral history funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation documenting the Indian Controlled Schools Movement.
In addition to her work in the field, Tracy has written and produced for a host of daily network and cable news programs, including Good Morning America, AC360, Real Money with Ali Velshi and Erin Burnett OutFront.
As CEO and Founder of RER Entertainment, Inc, Robert Riesenberg provides strategic advice and support to networks, media companies, brands, producers and publishers.
Prior to RER he was founder and CEO of Full Circle Entertainment (FCE), an operating unit of Omnicom Media Group and, preceding that, founded Magna Global Entertainment, a business unit of IPG. At these two companies he developed and produced award winning content serving the needs of a multitude of national advertisers and influencing today’s trend to branded content.
In his capacity as program executive and producer, his credits include the Emmy and Golden Globe winning branded franchises Johnson & Johnson Spotlight Presentation (TNT) and Chrysler Showcase Theater (CBS), as well as series such as The Restaurant (NBC), Young Americans (WB), Ultimate Fighter (Spike), Bound for Glory (ESPN), and Blowout (Bravo). He received an NAACP Image Award nomination for Bojangles (Showtime), starring Gregory Hines and a Golden Globe award for Escape from Sobibor (CBS) starring Alan Arkin and Rutger Hauer.
As a New York City based producer/director and an Alumni at NYU’s Graduate Film School program, Mark has created and maintained Lumina Films for the last 20 years. Creating global content for a diverse collection of clients including IBM, CNN, A&E, BBC4, HBO and others. With Mark at the helm, this boutique filmmaker's production & editorial company has developed award winning content from narrative feature films, documentaries, music videos and webisodes collecting over 45 awards for his outstanding work along the way.
Mark’s passion for filmmaking and producing quality, commercial entertainment content began under the tutelage of Martin Scorsese during his film studies at NYU.
Crazy Legs Conti
Producer, Featured NY Pizza Expert
Crazy Legs is a top-ranked eater with Major League Eating and a New York media personality. He has been the subject of or featured in countless media programs on national and local TV, radio and online as well as in magazines and newspapers. His most prominent TV appearances include: Jimmy Fallon, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Sopranos, USA’s Royal Pains, Cake Boss, Food Network’s Will Work for Food, Food Network’s My Life in Food, MTV True Life, Good Morning America, The Today Show, The Early Show, Fox and Friends, The View, CNN’s AC 360, ESPN Sports Center and ESPN 2 Cold Pizza. His online appearances include: CollegeHumor.com, The Thrillist, New York Food and Gothamist. He is also the subject of the feature documentary: Crazy Legs Conti: Zen and the Art of Competitive Eating.
Crazy Legs worked for many years in independent film and as a freelance line producer, most notably for The Shooting Gallery, where he produced for directors such as Billy Bob Thornton, Al Pacino, and Morgan Spurlock.
Producer, Marketing & Social Media Expert
By nature, Nicole is a connector of people and ideas. In her current role at NBCUniversal, she creates cross promotional synergy across multiple business units to maximize awareness and viewability for their programs and properties. With over 14 years of experience in unconventional content marketing, she brings a unique and informed perspective to all of her professional endeavors.
More importantly, Nicole has decades of pizza experience. As a founding member of Team Pizza, she manages all social media, creative marketing and branding.
Producer, Branding Expert
Laura is a sales and marketing veteran who builds brands and creates original content for Fortune 100 companies. A former executive at HBO, The Daily Beast, Magna Global Entertainment and Warner Bros., Laura has successfully grown start-ups and created new revenue-generating divisions for top media companies. With a passion for music, food & spirits, sports & entertainment, she’s also an executive producer of live media. Laura has a track record of creating authentic festivals, conferences and experiences. Credits: The Comedy Festival (HBO),USCAF (HBO), Hard Rock Live presented by American Express (Warner Bros/VH1), Sessions at West 54th (Warner Bros/PBS), Emmy-nominated Johnson & Johnson Spotlight Presentation film series (Magna Global/TNT), co-founder of the Après Ski Cocktail Classic in Aspen, and co-creator of the Women in the World Summit (The Daily Beast).
Derek has been visualizing the unimaginable for over 12 years. Using a mix of styles to convey difficult ideas and information, he’s created animations for diverse array of clients, including PBS Nova, Esquire, Nike and Microsoft. His work has also been showcased in numerous multimedia events featuring the internationally renowned physicist Brian Greene, including multiple appearances on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, a TED Talk, and the Broadway performance, “Spooky Action: The Drama of Quantum Mechanics,” which Bloomberg Magazine gave 5 stars.
Working closely with Dr. Greene, Derek has created hundreds of animations for The World Science Festival, a weeklong event held annually in New York City and Brisbane, Australia. His work for the Festival’s “World Science U” program was a 2014 Webby Honoree for “Best Use of Animation or Motion Graphic.”
As an editor, Derek has most recently worked with People TV, where he edited long-form content, including the popular web series, Entertainment Weekly Cast Reunion. In 2018, the program received a Silver Telly for Online Series Documentary. Other post-production clients include MTV2, A&E Networks, Sesame Workshop, and iHeartRadio.
Memo Salazar is a Mexican-American filmmaker that has been involved in various capacities of the industry for over 20 years. He has directed music videos for bands such as Public Enemy and Paleface, has written and directed short films and animations for Sesame Street, Smithsonian.com and The World Science Festival, has directed and produced media for live events such as Alan Alda’s biographical play Dear Albert, and has made as a variety of independent features and shorts, including the comedy Turbocharge starring Dave Attell, Rachel Feinstein, Jonathan Katz and Jon Benjamin. He is also an Emmy-winning editor whose credits include Sesame Street, Granite Flats, Dateline and Johnny and the Sprites, as well as the feature documentaries E-A- G-L-E-S the Movie, Notre Dame: Tradition Never Graduates, Wet Dreams, and the theatrically- released American Meat, which he also co-wrote and produced. He has also written for the Comedy Central pilot Rachel Profiling and is the co-writer of a TED TALK with theoretical physicist Brian Greene.