Have you met Miss Jones? We have. Today we’re talking to James Di Giacomo, the man behind this brand new comedy and his on screen alter ego, Angelina. We chat about the trials and tribulations of getting a new show off the ground with James while Angelina Jones tells us about living as a widow and why Hollywood is calling her.
FTN: Hi Angelina, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
AJ: I’m a young widow with an 18-year-old son. I live in Burbank, California where I work as a gossip reporter for a cable access TV network. My show is called “The Down Low on the Low Down”. My husband vanished in a strange accident and has recently been declared legally dead.
FTN: What’s it like being surrounded by all that celebrity on your doorstep?
AJ: I am on the cusp of stardom myself so I try to avoid any situation which will reveal me for what I really am – a star-struck little girl who grew up with her grandparents in the rundown seaside city of Asbury Park, New Jersey, USA. If I have to interview celebrities for my show, I pretend they are taking up MY time and I do little things to intentionally annoy them, which makes me feel better about myself. Naturally I am impressed with them, but I never let it show.
FTN: You’re a widow at a young age; was it a struggle bringing your son up on your own?
AJ: Yes, it has been a great struggle for me. When I first came to Burbank, I was this big, gawky and manly woman with absolutely no talent. I have had every menial job you could think of, but soon my beauty and talent became apparent to important people in show biz, and now I am finally making it in Tinsel town. It also helps that my son is an artist with great passion for the arts. He is my inspiration and my reason for living.
FTN: What keeps you going when times are hard?
AJ: I drink and on occasion I take my son’s ADD medicine. Last year my hairdresser fried my hair and my son failed two classes and almost didn’t graduate – I simply had to get my s@#t together.
FTN: You love speed dating, what sort of man are you looking for?
AJ: I’m looking for a man who is not intimidated by my fame and beauty and is not expecting much of a commitment from me because my career comes first! Also he must be financially stable – I love being wined and dined at the fanciest restaurants like Ashton Kutcher’s “Dolche”. Just thinking about Ashton has got me all hot and bothered now!!
FTN: What’s the weirdest proposal you ever had over the dating table?
AJ: If you haven’t heard, I met one guy named Kelly who thought I was a chick with a d@#k. How dumb can you get? It’s too bad because he was really hot – and he was black. I am into that forbidden stuff. At first I was insulted, but then when I thought about it, I kind of wish I really had a d@#k because I could have made Kelly really happy. And really, isn’t that what life is all about?
FTN: You obviously love fashion and always look stunning. What’s your secret to staying young?
AJ: I only eat organic fruit and grains. I also drink a lot of vodka and cranberry juice which I find makes my skin softer. I also make my own face cream with my own secret ingredients. I drink one glass of fish milk each week. I get it by sneaking out in the middle of the night and collect it from the beautiful koi pond located in the courtyard of my building – hoping no one will see me and steal my secret.
FTN: Do you exercise or have you the perfect body naturally?
AJ: Thank you for noticing my perfect body, but I have to admit that I am not so perfect and I am also very lazy. The body you see was God’s gift to me. I have a little problem with unwanted facial and body hair, but I am very diligent about having it waxed regularly. My waxer, Ms. Chang, is a miracle worker.
FTN: You run a celebrity gossip show. What’s the juiciest piece of gossip you’ve heard?
AJ: I know all of the secrets around Hollywood, but I don’t reveal anything unless I get paid for it. I still haven’t received my cheque I was promised when I walked in on Joan Rivers and Kanye West – I’ll give it another month.
FTN: Who, for you, personifies Hollywood apart from you of course?
AJ: I have dedicated my career to the memory of the great Joan Crawford and Bette Davis although I am often compared to Sandra Bullock.
FTN: Do you dream of walking the red carpet?
AJ: Well duhh! All girls who come to Hollywood dream of walking the red carpet but in my dreams I am arm in arm with one of Hollywood’s sexiest bachelors. My dream is to marry Keanu Reeves on the Red Carpet on the night I accept my Golden Globe for best actress. Maybe then all those stupid rumors of him will finally go away!
FTN: You said you would love to adopt an Afghan baby and call her Talibina. Would you like to adopt children from other countries?
AJ: I would gladly adopt a baby from every country on earth with the stipulation that they only cost me 50 cents a day and they stay in the country where I adopted them. I’m not very patient with kids, but I am willing to lend a hand.
FTN: You and your mom have a strained relationship to say the least. What makes you such a great mother?
AJ: I am great mother because I understand my son, Joe. I know all about him and his insecurities around girls. Of course you would think that an 18-year-old boy would be running around with a bunch of different girls, but not my Joe. He is saving himself for the perfect girl and he learned that kind of self-discipline from me. He spends a lot of time walking in the park and dancing at clubs in West Hollywood and going to the gym – all things to keep his mind off of the high-pressure world of dating as a teen. He will blossom into a great husband and father, and I will even more prouder of him than I am now.
FTN: Do you mind being wolf whistled at in the street?
AJ: We don’t have wolves in Los Angeles but coyotes are a terrible problem. One of them ate our dog when Joe was just a baby and that is why I will never allow another dog in the house.
FTN: Where do you see yourself in five year’s time?
AJ: I see myself with my own Hollywood gossip news show on the E! Network and happily married with a new baby. I always wanted to have more than one child and soon my Joe will meet a girl who will sweep him off his feet and leave dear mommy all alone. I am also well aware that my clock is tickin’ — I am not getting any younger!
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FTN: Can you tell us about yourself?
JDC: Well my name is James Di Giacomo. My parents are both immigrants from Italy. I was born in NYC and raised in NJ. I was a very shy and quiet kid growing up. Always afraid of looking stupid or saying the wrong thing, so I figured if I didn’t say anything people would leave me alone. I was one of the only kids in the suburban neighborhood I lived in and spent most of my younger years playing alone with my imaginary powers, conjuring up potions like a wizard. Harry Potter didn’t have anything on me!
FTN: How did you get into acting?
JDC: As a shy kid this lady at church asked my dad if I might be interested in joining their little sketch group. Dad asked me if I wanted to join, I kinda shrugged and that was just what I needed to come out of my shell and express myself. As a teen I decided acting was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I moved out to Hollywood, CA to pursue my “acting” career. Shortly thereafter I fell into casting where I learned a lot about the business like the dos and don’ts. I quickly started to learn how things operated. Having appeared in numerous commercials, TV shows and films I realized that if I wanted to make a name for myself in LALA land I would have to do it on my own and not with all these bit parts or commercials.
FTN: Is comedy something you prefer as it can so often be liberating?
JDC: YES! Nothing soothes my soul more than the sound of laughter. It’s always been my drug. Many people out here do hard drugs, not me – I just need laughter in my life.
FTN: You founded Undecided Pictures LLC, is that an easier way to get things done in a tough industry, literally do it yourself?
JDC: Yes and No. It was a way to protect myself mostly. LLC protects the owner from having someone go after their personal assets in a lawsuit. Also, once this show gets some legs and attention, then people would take me more serious as a producer, I hope, and ask about some of our other scripts we have available.
FTN: How did you come up with the idea of Angelina Jones?
JDC: In late 2011 I started creating and developing sketch characters, mostly to keep from going insane. I also am an apartment manager and a tenant who moved out left a bunch of stuff behind, including a brand new wig. I kept it and said to myself one day I will create a character with this wig. Several years later (2011) I slapped on the wig along with some lipstick and eye shadow and threw myself on camera and just went with it. My great friend/screenwriter David Mattia saw it on Youtube and said BINGO!!! He said you finally found your calling! I was slightly offended at first thinking he was being a jerk, but then David said ‘no no no seriously, you’re hilarious as a woman’. So slowly he and I collaborated on writing a pilot script (30 minute serial format).
FTN: Was she inspired by anyone in particular or just the whole celeb gossip culture we live in?
JDC: Well the name Angelina came from my late grandmother who passed away when I was in 5th grade. She was my best friend who left much too soon and left quite an impression on me. As a kid she would play with me and I would do her hair, makeup and nails. I loved pampering her and making her look like a queen, especially since my grandpa was a penny pincher and never really bought her anything, nor did he do anything special for her. So I loved making her feel special. My grandmother was nothing like the character of Angelina. I just wanted to pay tribute to her in some way, using her name – hearing people say Angelina always brings back fond memories of her.
Making Angelina Jones a celebrity gossip new reporter seemed fitting. In comedy I always feel that you should write what you know and Angelina and I are both seeking success in Hollywood. Angelina more than me is seeking fame, I’d be happy with just success.
FTN: Angelina has a very tragic element to her as well as the innocent slate. She doesn’t see what’s in front of her like the dating scene where the guy thought she was a drag queen. I loved how she thought he was insulting her handbag. Was that deliberate?
JDC: Yes, we wanted her to have an element of innocence to her, believe it or not – I’m sure David would say she’s more oblivious and clueless, than innocent.
FTN: Her appeal for me is that she has big dreams and nothing is going to stand in her way. Something I think we all share.
JDC: Yes especially me! I have dealt with many years of rejection and most irritating of all, is to not even be given a chance to show what I can do. For years I would always get sent on all these auditions I was not right for. I don’t like playing the leading man roles – I’m a character actor and that’s not what people expect based on my appearance.
FTN: How did you get the project off the ground and turn it into a web series?
JDC: Well basically we raised some money via Indiegogo and then David and I decided to put in the rest. Basically, I produced the series sending it to a few casting directors some of which who didn’t even have the courtesy to respond. In my head I really only wanted one person to cast it and that’s who responded to us and helped put the cast together. We actually shot the 30 minute pilot as a while, and when I saw I couldn’t get a single industry person to respond to the 150 emails I sent, I decided to cut the series myself. Mind you I have no editing background, but if you understand comedy you should understand where to cut etc. So I chopped it into 10 individual episodes which premiered on 12/12/12 via Blip TV, which accepted our show onto their platform.
FTN: Why did you play Angelina yourself?
JDC: Once we got our amazing cast together and not to mention all the other hats I was wearing I turned to David and said, maybe we should cast a professional actor to play Angelina? He said, are you nuts, you are a professional actor and this is your baby — you created this! That’s when I snapped out of it and said WTF was I thinking?!
FTN: I know you’re a huge British comedy fan. What shows do you like? Absolutely Fabulous?
JDC: LOVED Ab Fab!!! My dream was to be on a hit British comedy series playing a long lost American family member or the annoying new co-worker who just moved to the UK on a job transfer that he accepted on a whim. I also grew up watching Benny Hill as a kid my dad always had that show on. Also love Mr. Bean, Monty Python, Little Britain etc. I have always been drawn to the people from the UK, and I adore the accents from British, Irish even Scottish!
FTN: What is it that draws you to British comedy?
JDC: Well I feel the British are masters of timing and they don’t try so hard to be funny. They find the humor in even the smallest of things, even silence. To me a master comedic actor can make you laugh without saying a word – are more in tune with the moment. That was something I felt was important with Angelina, I wanted the audience to know what she was thinking or feeling with just a look.
FTN: Any American comedies that you admire or did you see a gap in the market so to speak?
JDC: There are some comedies that influenced me like In Living Color. When I saw Jim Carrey I finally found someone I could relate to someone who kind of even looked like me. Before that I always thought you had to be weird looking or heavy like John Candy. I was also a fan of Saturday Night Live the Adam Sandler, Chris Farley & David Spade years were my most favorite.
FTN: How did you get the likes of Dot-Marie Jones, Art LaFleur, & James Kyson involved? Those are heavy weight names.
JDC: Yes they are, but don’t forget Patty McCormack who plays Connie, Angelina’s crazy mother. She’s legendary and an Academy Award nominated actress. Patty starred in one of my favorite movies of all time The Bad Seed it’s an old classic, but an absolute must see! David and I ran into her a few years ago in Studio City, CA before I even moved out to California. Immediately, David being a HUGE fan was like, “Oh my God you’re Patty McCormack”! And we remained friends ever since. We pledged to Patty that we were gonna write something for her one day – and we did! James Kyson I actually befriended via a social media platform.
We were gonna just cast a white guy for the role of Jacob, but then I said why does it have to be a white guy – so I pitched the idea to Kyson. After he read the script, he and I met for dinner –he had no idea I was gonna play Angelina and after seeing his reaction I thought for sure I lost him. The next day his assistant called and said Kyson was totally interested so I put him in touch with our casting director. Dot-Marie Jones was the brilliant idea of our casting director Ricki Maslar, I was elated when I got word she was on board, and Art LaFleur came in for the role of Double D. I knew he wasn’t right for that role, but a light bulb went off in my head.
We all know he is an amazing actor – I turned to Ricki after he left the room and I said to her, he’s Limo Lou! Someone in the room said that’s Art LaFleur he isn’t gonna come in for such a small cameo, so I told the casting director if LaFleur does us this favor we will write Limo Lou into the story line and make him a pivotal character on the show as Connie’s “man servant”.
FTN: Now you release a new webisode every Wednesday which airs on Blip TV. What’s the reaction been like so far?
JDC: The reaction has been very positive. People seem to love the cast, the acting, the concept, the writing, the music and the quality of the overall production.
FTN: I feel it’s a great mix of classic comedians like Dick Emery, Absolutely Fabulous and a bit of Sex in the City to name a few; it has the dysfunctional family thing too which I always loved in comedy. Patty McCormack nails her character perfectly. I can’t imagine those scenes being done in one take.
JDC: Usually when I pitch the show I say it’s a cross between Ab Fab meets The Sopranos meets South Park meets a hot young Dame Edna. We were on such a tight shooting schedule we shot the 30 minute pilot in 3 days. So most of us only got 2 takes. Patty is such a pro — she had just flown in from Canada where she had just shot a guest starring spot on the series Supernatural. Aside from being extremely talented she really understood her character.
FTN: What can we expect from Miss Jones in the future?
JDC: Well now that our final episode aired, we can only hope that the show will continue to grow, and that people will share it with their friends and family. In time, maybe a studio or network or showrunner will stumble upon our little series and launch us onto a major cable network. Another route would be finding an investor who loves what we have created and give us the creative freedom to make more episodes. We already have 6 full episodes and could easily shoot a whole season’s worth that we can make available on DVD, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon etc.
FTN: What advice would you give to any aspiring actor or writer out there with an idea burning in their heads?
JDC: Well I would give them the same advice I was given – do something else! This business isn’t for most people. It is not all glitz and glamour. It’s A LOT of blood, sweat and tears – most sell their souls to make it. I still own mine thankfully! If acting or writing is all you think about before you go to bed and when you wake up in the morning then to I say, give it your all – don’t take no for an answer. Make realistic goals for yourself and make them happen. Make Youtube videos — not only is it good practice, but you never know who’s watching. Remember practice makes perfect! Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is someone’s Hollywood career.
FTN: Tell our readers where they can find out all about ‘Have You Met Miss Jones?’ and watch the episodes.
JDC: Well they can find us on several platforms, but the easiest is www.blip.tv/missjones and they can follow us on Twitter @MissJonesShow – Like us on FB www.facebook.com/missjonesshow. We would love to hear from your readers – so please feel free to comment or tweet and tell us you heard about the show here.
Lastly, I want to say of all the interviews we have done so far this has been the most fun. Not only did you take the time to ask some unique questions, but your questions show that you really liked and understood our show completely! So a big THANK YOU for your interest. Hope to one day come to the UK and visit.