Written by Ron Scaglia Friday, 18 January 2013 00:00
Imagine spending your workdays surrounded by infamous gangsters who are always plotting, conniving and killing in order to expand their wealth, their power and their empire. Tim Van Patten does, and he enjoys every minute of it. Van Patten is the executive producer and director of the hit HBO series Boardwalk Empire. In addition to his work on Boardwalk Empire, Van Patten has directed episodes of Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, Touched by an Angel, and many other TV series. He is also remembered for having starred in The White Shadow, during which he got to work with legendary director Bruce Paltrow, who gave him his first break as a director.
“I feel like Peter Pan,” he says about his success in show business. “I’ve never grown tired of it.”
While many around the world are familiar with his work, Massapequans can be especially proud as Van Patten grew up in the South Shore community. He went to Birch Lane and Ames. He wrestled for Massapequa High School and was coached by Massapequa legend Al Bevilacqua. In fact, he says that when he filmed The White Shadow, he would wear a Massapequa wrestling T-shirt as part of his basketball costume.
Right after graduation with the Class of ’77, Van Patten headed to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of a career in show business and soon landed the role on the TV series. He has since returned to the East Coast, and although he lives in New York City, he still has a strong attachment to Massapequa, where he grew up. Van Patten says he still has friends in Massapequa whom he visits. When his busy schedule allows him to be in the area, he often catches up with those friends at Tobay Beach or, like many Massapequans, finds his way to All-American Hamburger.
“I’m still very connected to Massapequa,” he says.
Van Patten compares his childhood in Massapequa to that of Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer. He says that when he grew up, Massapequa was not yet fully developed, and some of the streets were not paved, which in some ways made it even more fun. He fondly recalls surfing, spending time on the bay, and the many friendships he developed.
“There was always a ton of kids on the block,” he recalls. “I always look back fondly on those days. My kids grew up in New York City and I’ve always regretted that they didn’t have that.”
Van Patten is not the first Massapequa graduate to find huge success in show business. Jerry Seinfeld and Alec Baldwin are just two Massapequa graduates who have made their mark on big stages. So, does Van Patten think that his childhood in Massapequa had an influence on his success?
“As a kid, I knew every inch of those neighborhoods. It was great for your imagination,” says the director whose imagination has helped to bring real life gangsters Al Capone, Arnold Rothstein and “Lucky” Luciano as well as the fictional character of Nucky Thompson, the main character in the series. He adds that the coaching of Bevilacqua instilled discipline.
When asked what his favorite spot is in Massapequa he replied that it is Tobay Beach. So those of you who spend a warm summer afternoon there might find yourself next to a famous director. However, Van Patten has found that you don’t necessarily have to travel to Tobay Beach to meet a Massapequan.
“You bump into people from Massapequa all over the world,” he says. He even commented that he’s spoken to folks in Los Angeles who know of the south shore community.
As for his future, he says that he is not one to rest on his laurels, and that he strives to keep moving forward. Although he has acted and directed, he says that he prefers directing and plans to stay in that area as it allows him to be much more involved in the process. Van Patten compares being a director to a baseball catcher who is involved in every play of the game as opposed to acting, which he compares to being a right fielder.
Van Patten was fortunate to achieve his goals and attain the level of success in his chosen field. It all started in Massapequa, and he offers words of encouragement to Massapequans who are doing the same.
“Chase your dreams,” he says. “There are many ways to your destination.”
Wednesday, 15 May 2013 00:00
As voters in the Massapequa Union Free School District approach the Tuesday, May 21, budget vote, the proposed spending plan retains popular educational programs while keeping the rise in spending to 1.49 percent.
Despite what district officials call unprecedented increases in state-mandated employer pension contributions, as well as rising health insurance costs, the overall budget is up just over $2.7 million.
Thursday, 16 May 2013 00:00
After Massapequa resident Sol Goldstein and several friends helped finish building a house for a family 20 years ago for Habitat for Humanity, they had a question: “What do we do now?” They were all retired, had enjoyed working together and accomplishing something for a family in need, and wanted to do more.
“I was looking for something [to do] hands-on,” said Joe Botkin, of Williston Park, a retired principal, who had worked with Goldstein in building the home.
Thursday, 16 May 2013 00:00
Vinny Zanfardino started his coaching career in 1997 when he stepped up to coach his daughter’s Little League team.
What started as a hobby turned into a full-blown obsession for Zanfardino, 48. Coaching became an outlet to do some good for children while staying close to the game he loves: baseball.
Thursday, 16 May 2013 00:00
On Saturday, May 18, the Town of Oyster Bay will conduct a ceremony to officially re-name its golf course in honor of Joseph Colby, a resident of Massapequa Park who served as the Town of Oyster Bay’s 56th supervisor. The Honorable Joseph Colby was appointed supervisor in 1977 and was elected to that office five times in the following ten years. He was then elected as a New York State Supreme Court Justice in 1988, a post he held through his retirement from public service in 1992. The unveiling will take place at the main entrance of the course off South Woods Road in Woodbury.
“When the sign for Honorable Joseph Colby Town of Oyster Bay Golf Course is unveiled, it will celebrate an outstanding career in public service,” Supervisor John Venditto said. “Joseph Colby has always had the needs of the public as his top priority and has been widely respected for his innovation and responsiveness. This golf course will now forever bear his name as a tribute to his outstanding legacy.”