By STEPHEN McGUIRE
the truth is stranger than fiction.
That’s exactly how two Queens natives and twin brothers — Peter Thomas a trial attorney with a practice on Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills and Daniel Thomas a medical malpractice lawyer in Manhattan – described how their take on the Queens courts is slated to become a major network prime-time television show next year.
According to the brothers Thomas, their process of becoming prime time producers began a little over a year ago when they found themselves aboard an airplane on their way to a bar mitzvah in California.
were sharing war stories about the eccentricities of daily life in the
Queens courts. Those stories sounded like the basis of a show, according to
the Hollywood agent they were sitting next to.
agent shared the ideas with a show writer from New York named Kevin Fox.
pitched it and the rest is history,” Peter Thomas said.
The next thing the brothers knew, they were being asked to produce a television show that “takes a peek under the robes of the bench at Queens Supreme Court” called “Queens Supreme,” Peter said.
ideas behind the show’s storylines are simply the kinds of things that
lawyers discuss with their friends at the bar – stories that attorneys
often say “would make a good movie,” Daniel said.
fact, the Thomas brothers thought “Queens Supreme” could make it as a
when TV network execs heard about “Queens Supreme,” the Thomas brothers
found themselves caught up in a twist of small screen fate.
“We made the pilot,” and CBS ordered 12 more episodes based on the pilot, Daniel said.
As producers, “we provide story lines and help with accounts of the legal process,” Daniel explained.
ideas include suggestions of Queens locales for shooting scenes that appear
on the show.
from the pilot episode were filmed at the Long Island City Courthouse, at
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, a house in Rego Park and inside the New York
State Supreme Courthouse in Jamaica, the brothers said.
[also] have cameos in the pilot,” Daniel noted.
pilot and show’s 12 follow-up episodes – which have been designated for
mid-season replacement on CBS in January 2003 – will begin filming in
mid-August, according to Daniel.
the Queens attorneys aren’t alone in the production of “Queens
Supreme,” they said.
Julia Roberts’ production company – Shoelace Productions – and Aaron Spelling who has produced some of TV’s best known shows including “Dynasty,” “The Love Boat,” “The Mod Squad” and “Beverly Hills 90210,” will also be working behind the scenes.
Thomas twins grew up in the Belle Harbor section of the Rockaways and
attended J.H.S. 180 in Rockaway Park and Beach Channel High School.
college they both went to CUNY Law School in Flushing.
35-year-olds’ father is Supreme Court Judge Charles Thomas who lives and
works in Queens.
And Judge Thomas told the Tribune, “I am very proud of my sons. They are great kids, I am extremely proud.”
Thomas brothers are excited that CBS decided to keep the show in New York
with much of the shooting taking place at Long Island City’s Silvercup
a show about Queens and filmed in Queens,” Daniel said. “So it seems
like a natural.”
Supreme” is also CBS’ “only [show of its kind] shooting in New
York,” according to the Thomas brothers.
said, network executives “recognized the import that Queens is the most
ethnically diverse place in the world.”
“We have the Manhattan Skyline as the background, ” and the Thomas brothers said they plan to have local residents “cast as extras.”
Queens Supreme has been dubbed a “dramedy” because it combines serious moments with some funny ones. But don’t expect the show to be a series of one-liners.
is not ‘Night Court’,” Daniel said. “The comedy comes from the
quirkiness of every day life. [“Queens Supreme”] is not a biography and
not a documentary.”
the Thomas brothers said they are taking a unique approach toward producing
show is not intended to ridicule,” Daniel told the Tribune. “Most people
who see the pilot say, gee, I never knew this.”
Instead, “Queens Supreme” intends to focus on the “politics, emotion, law, procedure, and faces of a lawsuit. Most shows are case driven, this show is character driven,” Daniel said.
Thomas brothers are still practicing attorneys, but their lives have changed
since “Queens Supreme.”
never thought it would get this far,” Daniel said. “We feel lucky to be
at the point we are. We have beaten the odds.”
told the Tribune, “I used to have a very relaxed practice but now I
usually have a script in my hand. There’s not a waking moment I am not
Peter said that during the summer months he usually has more time on his hands but now that he is spending time working on the show, things have become more of a “juggling act.”
is expected to start in mid –August at Silvercup East,” the brothers
show’s cast is expected to include Robert Loggia – of “Scarface,”
“Big,” and “Officer and a Gentleman” fame – Oliver Platt and
Sciorra is no stranger to playing a Queens character. She once played the part of the wife of a Queens dry cleaner owner in the film “The Night We Never Met” opposite Matthew Broderick.
list of movies, TV shows and commercials filmed in Queens rivals that of
to Silvercup officials, among the many feature films that have been shot at
their Long Island City home are “Godfather
III,” “When Harry Met Sally,” “Romancing the Stone,” “Broadway
Danny Rose,” “Working Girl,” “First Knight,” “Men In Black,”
and many others.
is also currently home to production on HBO’s “Sex and the City” and
“The Sopranos” and has hosted QVC’s home shopping channel, Q2.
first studio was opened in 1983 in the former “flour silo room” of what
was once the Silvercup Bakery.
It has grown into the largest independent, film and television production facility in the northeastern United States.
On The Gridiron:
By Angela Montefinise
When 25-year-old Elmhurst resident Tara Passoni was growing up in Western Queens, she was the only girl in her neighborhood who loved to roll up her sleeves, pull back her hair, and play sports with the boys.
was the only one out there, no matter what the weather was, playing all the
sports I could. No other girls played. I was kind of on my on my own, I
guess,” she said.
who once authored a story for the Queens Tribune, isn’t on her own
is one of approximately 40 members of the world champion New York Sharks, a
professional woman’s tackle football team that plays its home games at
August Martin High School in Jamaica, making it Queens’ second pro team...
behind the New York Mets.
who plays on both the offensive and defensive lines for the Sharks, said she
“loves the game,” and said, “When I was growing up, I played touch
football and I watched men’s football, but there was really no opportunity
for women in that sport. Now, it’s just so sweet to play it. I love it. I
love hitting people. It’s great.”
is the only Queens members of the Sharks, which has been in existence for
three years but just this year joined the Independent Woman’s Football
League (IWFL) – a national women’s tackle football league with 14 teams
across the country. In their freshman effort, the Sharks were undefeated,
with four shut-outs in eight games. They went on to beat the Austin Outlaws
24-4 in the IWFL Superbowl, making them league champions.
the league is “professional in terms of skill and in terms of
sponsorship,” according to Sharks General Manager Crystal Turpin, the
players on the team are all volunteers, strapping on uniforms and helmets
once a week for the “pride and desire to win and be competitive.” She
said, “Hopefully in the future, we can pay them. But right now, they play
solely for the love of the game.”
women under the elbow pads and behind the chinstraps are cops, construction
workers, teachers, doctors, and lawyers. There is an ex-Marine and
grandmother. “We have everything,” Turpin said.
all of the women have in common is a love for Queens, the place that the
Sharks called home for the 2002 season.
Turpin said, “We have been looking for a home for a long time. The people in Queens have accepted us. They love us. They cheer for us. We feel at home here, and I think this is where we’re going to stay.”
From her Manhattan office, Passoni, a professional information security expert, told the Tribune that her older brother, Jason is the man who inspired and encouraged her to watch and play as many different games as possible. “He got me into sports real young. I’ve been playing since I was in diapers basically,” she said.
played softball, basketball, touch football and tennis as a child. She has
competed in Olympic weightlifting and crew. She mountain bikes in her free
time, and has taught basketball. While she loved all of the sports she has
played, she has never felt as at home as she does on the Sharks.
so great to see other women with the same passion for sports that I have,”
she told the Tribune. “I so admire their athleticism and abilities. We are
so connected on this team. It’s such a spirit of camaraderie ... When I
was in the 11- to 15-year-old range, things were a lot different than they
are for 11- to 15-year olds now. There is just so much more opportunity. I
have an 11-year-old sister, and I’m just so glad to see her be able to
join track and field and have people not think it’s weird.”
While Passoni’s first love is sports, she also loves writing, and she wrote a story for the Queens Tribune in 1998 about religion. “I really enjoyed doing that. It was fun . . . I was friends with Jeremy Olshan – the old editor – who I went to college with at Sarah Lawrence. That was a great experience.”
and the rest of the Sharks destroyed the competition this year under Coach
Nick Giannatasio, easily winning all eight of their games to become Eastern
Division champs during a championship season. They managed to shut out four
teams during the year, and outscored their opponents 372 to 18. The most
points any team scored against The Sharks during the year was six.
said this season – her second – was all about fun. “My first year was
all about intensive learning. The first time you tackle someone is tough. It
hurts. If you’ve never played in a real pro game before, with 100 yards
and 21 people on the field, it’s a little intimidating, but with practice
and experience, you get comfortable in what you’re doing. I sure have.”
IWFL uses the same rules as the National Football League (NFL), and Turpin
said, “We do everything the same way. We have the same excitement as any
men’s team. We hit just as hard, run just as hard and play just as hard.
No men’s team beats anyone 73 to nothing, I’ll tell you that.”
Sharks went to the IWFL Superbowl in Oregon on July 6, and beat the Austin
Outlaws 24-4. Turpin said before the game, “We’re confident. But we
never take anything for granted.”
Maybe they don’t take anything for granted, but the Sharks know that they’re good. During the last game of the season, the Bay State Warriors scored two points on a safety, and Sharks player Anna Tate could be heard yelling with a laugh, “Man, you messed up my point spread.”
Sharks played all of their games on Saturdays, bringing crowds of up to 300
to their field at August Martin High School. Turpin said, “We started with
small crowds, and now they’re getting bigger. People are hearing about us,
and people are loving us . . . It’s a fun day out. People should check it
For $10, fans can watch all four quarters of football from the August Martin bleachers. There is plenty of free street parking, and a barbecue is held every game with Shark Burgers and Shark Dogs for sale. All of the ticket takers and food vendors are either former players or friends of the sharks, and Turpin said, “We’re like a family. Everyone loves the team and is proud of the game. We’re all one here.”
Passoni said the game is “exciting and fun,” there is a degree of
seriousness to this year’s Sharks team.
Christmas morning 2001, 28-year-old Linebacker Sharon Pascale was killed in
a car crash on her way home from a family gathering. Passoni called Pascale,
“a great girl and a great athlete,” and said, “this has been a tough
year for us. It’s really emotional for all of us.”
member of the Sharks had the number “51” on their jersey this year in
honor of Pascale, and the season was dedicated to her. Passoni said, “It
just makes the season all the more important.”
added, “Sept. 11 made the year really tough. Girls on the team lost
relatives in the collapse and everything. It was hard. It hasn’t been easy
for us this season.”
was one of four Sharks who volunteered at Ground Zero in the weeks following
Sept. 11. She was there as a member of the Red Cross, Offensive Lineman Beth
Nugent was there as a Nassau County Police Officer, Punter Aurora Lighthart
was there as an EMT, and Offensive Lineman Nikki Cerrato was there as a
construction worker helping with clean-up.
Turpin said, “Beth pulled someone to safety at Ground Zero. They really helped.”
IWFL was formed in 2000, and is one of the first pro women’s tackle
members are chosen through open try-outs, which are announced on the team
website. Turpin said, “Most of the girls on the team played flag football.
I used to. That’s how they learned to play.”
owner of the Sharks is Andra Douglas, one of the team’s quarterbacks. The
team is looking for more sponsors, and Turpin said, “We’re looking to
expand. We are going to grow.”
team is already on the radar of Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, who
honored the team recently for their outstanding season.
For more information on the Sharks, or to suggest a name for their anonymous shark mascot, go to www.nysharksfootball.com, or call Turpin at 646-552-5798.
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