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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Shifting talent

    Michael Ignatov/Arizona Daily Wildcat Actor Chazz Palminteri, 56, takes in the mens basketball game between Houston and Arizona Saturday afternoon in McKale Center. Palminteris performance titled A Bronx Tale - which is being shown at the Tucson Music Hall today through Sunday - caught the eye of former Wildcat hoops player Matt Othick during his time at the UA and the two are now working together on Palminteris newest movie, Yonkers Joe.
    Michael Ignatov/Arizona Daily Wildcat Actor Chazz Palminteri, 56, takes in the men’s basketball game between Houston and Arizona Saturday afternoon in McKale Center. Palminteri’s performance titled “”A Bronx Tale”” – which is being shown at the Tucson Music Hall today through Sunday – caught the eye of former Wildcat hoops player Matt Othick during his time at the UA and the two are now working together on Palminteri’s newest movie, “”Yonkers Joe.””

    When Chazz Palminteri was 9 years old, his father gave him a card. It read, “”The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.””

    Now Palminteri, 56, hands out cards with the same message on them to teens when signing autographs.

    The actor is in Tucson performing “”A Bronx Tale,”” a one-man stage act, which he started in 1989. The show – held at the Tucson Music Hall today through Sunday – was turned into a movie in 1993 and both versions of the story feature the quote Palminteri lives by.

    “”(The quote) is about changing their life, and it really has an impact on their lives,”” Palminteri said. “”That’s why I decided to do the national tour, and that’s why I’m right here in Tucson.””

    Former Wildcat basketball player Matt Othick (1989-92), his brother Trent and John Gaughan are now in on the act with Palminteri, and are also a big part of “”Yonkers Joe,”” Palminteri’s new big screen flick.

    “”I spoke to them about Broadway and how I wanted to do the show, and they said, ‘You know what? Let’s go,'”” Palminteri said.

    Matt, who played four games in the NBA for San Antonio in 1992, said he never pictured himself as an actor, but added that actors and professional athletes have more in common than one might think.

    “”They’re both risky businesses, and it’s hard,”” he said. “”You have to be very, very skilled to be an actor or a professional athlete, and I think that’s probably why the two hit it off so much.

    “”It’s also different at the same time,”” Matt Othick added. “”It’s very exciting, and it’s very competitive. It gets the juices flowing in the same way.””

    Trent Othick learned about acting quicker than his brother. He spent nine years in Los Angeles, learning the ropes from his father-in-law. His head-first dive into the industry was cyclical, with Palminteri becoming an inspiration first, then a teammate.

    Trent first saw “”A Bronx Tale”” at the Century Theaters on Grant Road while he was attending the UA.

    “”When I left the theater, I didn’t know what I wanted to do,”” he said. “”I was a DJ at the Green Dolphin, partying a little too much.

    “”I saw that movie and I came out of it … and I said, ‘I gotta do something with my life,”” Trent added. “”I gotta stop the nightlife.'””

    Trent eventually went to law school then quit. There was something about Palminteri’s film he just couldn’t let go of.

    “”A Bronx Tale was one of the movies that really inspired me as a young adult to try to do something with myself,”” he said.

    Think of it as shifted talent, not wasted.

    Bronx Ballin’

    The Othick brothers and Palminteri attended Saturday’s UA men’s basketball game against Houston. It had been about seven years since Matt had returned to McKale Center, he said.

    “”It was different walking in here not seeing (former Arizona head coach) Lute (Olson) over on the sideline,”” he said. “”It was kind of emotional seeing him up in the stands instead of coaching the team.””

    The game was certainly a treat for Palminteri, a self-described sports fan who loves the New York Knicks.

    When asked if he thought the Knicks might end up with UA forward Chase Budinger in June’s NBA Draft, Palminteri said it was possible, but added that he had someone else on his mind.

    “”We’re waiting for LeBron,”” he said with a smile.

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