Uncle Mike’s Closes, McCarren Park Pool Opens…

Matt De Matt’s birthday bash at his Gaslight annex G2 Lounge kept me away from Danny A’s latest screening as, once again, I couldn’t clone myself. Danny Abeckaser used to be best known for the company he keeps which includes boldface names like Leonardo DiCaprio and scores of models and beautiful people. Now more and more he is becoming a celebrity in his own right, having been a promoter and owner and club personality for decades. He works as both an actor and producer and has recently completed Freelancers and The Iceman. His role as drug dealer Jackie Solomon in Holy Rollers, a film he also produced, has me salivating for his next project. There will be other screenings, goes the logic, but I’ll have to wait until next year for Matt De Matt’s birthday.

At the party I was pleased to get a chance to chat up my friend Mason Reese who followed a childhood commercial acting career with a club/restaurant career. He may be small but he has big ideas and it was wonderful to catch up. Dina Regine and I exchanged war stories about DJing (she still does it) and people and places. It was an age-appropriate crowd for me and I’ll just leave you with that straight line. Yeah, I’m not getting any younger and neither was anyone in that room except maybe Matt who looked great and was certainly full of less BS than I hear from most people of his stature in the biz.

I like the concept of the “F**K the Hamptons” bikini and champagne brunches at Lavo on Saturday afternoons. I like that all the people in this town that I don’t enjoy as much as they think I do leave town each weekend for that never never land (as in I will never go there unless paid well). I am hearing raves about McCarren Park’s newly-opened pool and recreation facility for all the scruffy hipsters in Williamsburg. I had a blast last night at Hotel Chantelle which got its air conditioning together. The crowds – those that didn’t melt last Thursday – returned to enjoy the show and especially the roof. Debbie Harry came by to visit her pal DJ Miss Guy and I had a few minutes to chat with her. Last night I hung with regulars Tommy London and Marty Concussion of the Dirty Pearls. They were busy being boys-to-men…and back to boys-at-the-bar with Luc Carl. Before next Thursday’s DJ gig at Chantelle, I will see them perform at the Highline Ballroom with Bebe Buell, The Killing Floor, The Noise, and Ingrid and The Defectors.

My newest friend was telling me right before my DJ gig about her favorite bar: Uncle Mike’s. Less than 10 minutes later she received a message that announced its immediate closing. I’m rethinking my friendship… this girl is dangerous. The message said:

"tomorrow, Friday, is closing day for mike’s. we are throwing an ‘end of the world’ party. I expect everyone to make the bar as much money as possible if we want guaranteed jobs at the other company bars. the $ Friday needs to be huge. I couldn’t tell anyone until now, ring as much as possible. sell decor sell chalkboards, hats, glasses etc. starting at $10 the money will be very closely watched. drop text and Facebook bombs NOW. twitter, call, etc. put it on the sign in the am. sell every drop of liquor in here at full price. I need $6000+ tomorrow."

Uncle Steve is heading to Uncle Mike’s tonight with cash in his pocket. Yesterday I told Mason that the business is booming and that everyone is making loot. I might have misspoken. Come join me at Uncle Mike’s and I’ll buy you a beer…or maybe a barstool.

From Club Man to Actor: Danny A. Works With the Best

Danny A. Abeckaser has made the transition from hosting boldface names to being one. The longtime club owner/promoter is usually surrounded by the beautiful and famous at the chicest of clubs. He has a piece of Avenue, and I find him there when he’s not out in the world shooting some flick or another. The good clubs aren’t good because the celebrities go there. The celebrities go to the good clubs because the people there allow them to be themselves and they know that what happens in there stays there. Danny A., as we all know him, has been the guy with the table, the mega-star, and the models, going back to when I was doing it well. Early on, I saw him in a club-like flick called Point&Shoot, and found it amusing. His production of and performance in Holy Rollers made me a true believer. Hey…I’m a fan.  He has remained a friend and I enjoy catching up with him and talking about what he is up to.

You have a great role in the new flick The Iceman with Michael Shannon, James Franco, Chris Evans, Ray Liotta, David Schwimmer, and Winona Ryder. This is big time. Tell me about your part and about the film.
I’m so excited for The Iceman. It’s been two years in the making. I play Dino Lepron, who’s the Iceman’s best friend. He’s the only guy the Iceman really loves and trusts. Acting alongside Michael Shannon was amazing; the guy is so good he makes anyone he’s in a scene with so much better. I’ve known the director Ariel Vromen for years, and when he told me about it I had to be in it. It was just shown in Venice and Toronto. Should be out end of this year.

You just finished some work with Martin Scorsese. Tell me about that and how you hooked up with Marty…er, Mr. Scorsese?
I did three days on The Wolf of Wall Street. Just being on set and working with Scorsese was a dream come true. The roll is very, very small. But it’s Marty. I would have gone to Japan to be an extra, so that was great.

You will be in another film which headlines Woody Allen as an actor. Are you blowing up? Tell me about this film and the path it took you to get here.
Yeah, I just got cast in a small role as a rabbi in Fading Gigolo. Starring Woody Allen. Directed by John Tutoro. Very exciting. I don’t care about the size of the role. I just want to work with the best. So I feel very blessed.

I remember Point&Shoot, and thinking how amazing it is that you’re this club guy, a high-end promoter/owner type, yet you have this movie career.
Point&Shoot. That was fun. That’s when I said, “I like this. I want to keep doing it.” I’ve always wanted to act and produce. I acted in a few small things as a kid. But now I feel it’s what I was meant to do.

I loved Holy Rollers and have seen it many times. I appreciate it more each time. You had a production credit in that flick, as well as your acting performance in the pivotal role of Jackie.
Jackie was a character I felt I wanted to play first, very early in my career cause I felt I know that guy. I needed to feel comfortable with my first big role. Being in the club business, I’ve met lots of guys like him.

Have you been planning this movie career all along? Will your club career be coming to an end?
Nightlife has opened so many doors for me since it’s kept me around amazing people. But only after doing The Iceman did I realize how hard this acting thing is. You have to put in the work and time to do it on a high level. I’m very lucky to have Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss as partners at Avenue and a few other small things. Without the freedom of knowing Noah is there to make sure everything is good, I wouldn’t have been able to go away and shoot for two months at a time.  Like I said, I’m very blessed and excited for the future. Excited to see what happens.

I love that you, Steve Lewis, loved Holy Rollers and always says nice things about it. It made me go out and work harder. So thanks. Peace. 

Living the High Life: Justin Bartha in Holy Rollers

At seventeen, Justin Bartha moved to New York City from the Midwest to attend acting school. Who knew, that several years later, he’d be dating an Olsen. We’re only kidding, of course. Bartha has a far bigger accomplishment than dating Ashley, namely, being in movies. Some of them you love (The Hangover), and some of them help Nicolas Cage avoid bankruptcy (National Treasure). Bartha’s latest is the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it indie Holy Rollers, a cautionary tale Hasidic drug smugglers in Brooklyn. Bartha plays Yosef Zimmerman, who uses young boys from an Orthodox Jewish community to help him transport ecstasy. He employs a new recruit named Sam (played by Bartha’s good friend Jesse Eisenberg), who’s taken on a dark drug-fueled journey that makes him question the Big Four: life, love, faith and himself. Here is the actor on the making of Holy Rollers and his favorite Jewish deli In New York.

How would you describe your character in Holy Rollers? He’s the nasty neighbor and the wayward son. Yosef grew up in a broken home in a Hasidic community in Brooklyn. He got involved with a fast lifestyle very early on and he’s lost himself, almost completely. He’s given up on himself and has found a new family in this club and drug culture. Yosef’s job is to recruit other young Hasidic men and women to do the same as him.

What attracted you to this part? Jesse sent me the script a long time ago. We had been looking for a while to work on something together. I used to live above a Hasidic family in Los Angeles for a couple of years. They fascinated me. Their son was a troubled kid and their fights would keep me awake at night. When I read the script, I immediately thought of that. Jesse and I really got the chance to help develop this project and work on it together very closely, fleshing out the characters.

Did you do any research within the Hasidic communities in Brooklyn? We would go into Williamsburg and Borough Park and observe the people. At one point, Jesse was invited to a school.

Your character Yosef says, “Jews have been smuggling for thousands of years.” Do you think that helps justify his drug smuggling in his own mind? I think it’s something that Yosef says to sell what he is trying to sell. At one point, it probably did justify what he was doing. Every culture has smuggled something in and out of their country for thousands of years, so it doesn’t really mean anything.

Do you think Yosef sees a bit of himself in Sam when he first meets him? Our intent was always to try to make a character-centered film as a throw back to those ‘70s American films that had two male characters that fed off of each other.

When I was watching the film I thought of Midnight Cowboy. Absolutely, Midnight Cowboy and Mean Streets. The development of both characters very much played off each other. When I would look at what happened to Yosef I would always incorporate what I thought was going happen to Sam. What he went through, what their similarities were, who Sam is compared to Yosef, and just to connect them as much as possible. These people should seem real, and after we watch the movie we should actually think what is going to happen to them.

Any favorite restaurants you frequent in New York City? I like Murray’s Bagels. I probably go there more than anywhere else.

Are there any Jewish delis in New York City that you can recommend? My favorite deli is Katz’s on the Lower East Side.

Holy Rollers seems like a very personal project for you. My goal is to always try to do movies like Holy Rollers. I find them personally entertaining and self-gratifying because they’re a challenge. For me, it’s just about trying to continue to move forward, do different things and challenge myself.

What do you want people to walk away with after watching this movie? I want them to think about faith versus blind faith and to just be invested in the story. We do leave some nice opened-ended questions at the end of the movie. What will happen to these characters? If you even think about that for ten minutes, we’ve done our job.

Danny ‘A-List’ Abeckaser

Danny A. has been a fixture in New York nightlife since the mid 90’s. He is known as a promoter/owner and certainly a player. His “friends” are often the young Hollywood set and all the models, actresses and bright beauties that are part of their entourage. After a dabble here and there in film Danny has now produced and stared in Holy Rollers, a buzz film about Hasids from that “un-gentrified” part of Brooklyn that smuggle drugs from Amsterdam. At Sundance he received support from his pals Gerard Butler, Bradley Cooper, Kevin Connolly, Adrien Brody, Adrian Grenier, Wilmer Valderrama and Guy Oseary. He even got a favorable notice from Harvey Weinstein, who called Danny’s performance “awesome.” His New York premier the other night was all that it should’ve been. Everyone who is anyone in the scene was delighted by Danny A., the movie star. He even has a new— or I guess an old—name now. The Danny A. we all love is now the equally loveable Danny A. Abeckaser. I will just assume that the middle “A” stands for awesome or amazing or “A” list. I caught up with my old friend and asked him about what it all means.

First congrats! As an A-list promoter/owner who has been know to travel with celebrity friends, how do you perceive how a successful film career will change your relationship with the club people and the celebrities? I hope nothing changes. The fact that I’m friends with actors that became movies stars as our relationship evolved has nothing to do with why I consider them really good friends. I’ll also be in the club business for the rest of my life, no matter how my film career takes off.

How long have you been acting and where do you want to go with this? I’ve been acting all my life and I want to go straight to the top.

Who or what helped you create the character you play in Holy Rollers? Being in the club business, I’ve been around a lot of shady characters. It was not a far-fetched thing for me.

Is this the end of Danny A and the beginning of Danny A Abeckaser? Or has Abeckaser always been here? It’s always been there, buddy. It just needed time to evolve and to wait for the right moment to strike

Of the other players in club land who else do you see as an actor? DJ Juske.

What else are you working on in film and is acting your goal or do you see yourself directing or writing or doing something else? Well, I was both a producer and an actor in Holy Rollers, so I think my main focus will stay with those two things, but you never know.

Tell me about working with my dear friend Jen Gatien. Jen is awesome, she’s a dear friend of mine, too. She brought a lot to the table and did so much for the film. She was awesome to work with.

Can I have your autograph? Why in the world would you want that?

When does the movie come out and where? It comes out May 21st in New York and LA. In New York it’s playing at the Landmark Sunshine on East Houston and the AMC Loews 84th Street. In LA it’s playing at the Landmark. Other cities will open in the weeks to follow, so check out holyrollersfilm.com for the full schedule.