In New York City, cinematographer George Mitas’ latest film, Back in the Day, is back in the news, as one of its stars, actor turned convicted felon Lillo Brancato is using the film for his cinematic comeback. It was written and produced by actor William DeMeo, who also stars in the film. After achieving tremendous success for his role in A Bronx Tale in 1993, in which he starred alongside Robert DeNiro in the latter’s directorial debut, Brancato also landed a role on HBO’s smash hit The Sopranos. But drugs nearly ruined Brancato’s life, and caused him to turn to a life of crime to feed his addiction. In 2008, Brancato and accomplice Steven Armento attempted to break in to a house in the Bronx, but were intercepted by a neighbor, off-duty police officer Daniel Enchautegui. A gunfight between Armento and Enchautegui ensued, and Armento fatally shot the police officer. Armento is currently serving a life sentence for murder, but Brancato, who was unarmed, was convicted of first-degree burglary and was released from prison in 2013 on parole. Brancato accepts “full responsibility for how my actions and my drug addiction contributed to the death of that heroic police officer,” he told the NY Post. “With that being said, I wasn’t armed, I didn’t shoot anyone, I’ve never been armed in my life,” he added. Shannen Doherty and Danny Glover headline the cast of Back in the Day, which also stars former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson.
HOT SPRINGS, AR
Vera Columbus of Hot Springs, AR passed away earlier this month at 88. Her daughter, Danae Columbus, executive producer of Louisiana Newsmaker on Cox Cable, wrote a tribute to her mother in Uptown Messenger: My mother Vera was a scientist, a University of Pennsylvania-trained microbiologist to be exact, who integrated the miracles of science into her everyday life as a wife and mother. Unfortunately, all the recent advances in medicine could not protect her from the ravages of dementia which eventually robbed Mother of the ability to walk, talk or even feed herself. At 88, Mother succumbed to that often misunderstood disease…Vera was a native of Ioannina, Greece, close to the Albanian border, and spoke English with a cute accent like Zsa Zsa Gabor…Mother – like millions of other immigrants – had a strong desire to succeed. She married my father, Harry, who attend the Wharton School on the GI bill, settling in Jersey City where I was born. Dad always said he didn’t go to Penn to run his father’s restaurant. The family relocated to Arkansas in 1959 to be closer to Mother’s sister, Niobe, who had married and moved there. We became part of a small but close-knit Southern Greek-American community. Mother happily used her science background to adroitly count points at Bridge games, make Baked Alaska for unending dinner parties, and serve as a gracious hostess and petite fashion maven while always keeping up with her daughters’ busy schedules. When illness overcame my father in middle age, Mother was forced to learn science anew and enter the workforce for the first time. Years later Vera retired from a hospital lab where she had been often exposed to tuberculosis and other diseases in her pledge to serve patients in need…My Mother passed on to me her indomitable spirit of independence, her can-do personality, and a strong desire to be successful in her adopted country. Vera Columbus made her mark on this earth. I only hope I can do the same…”
As 69 News reported, “the Reading City Council issued a proclamation to recognize Greek Independence Day at its regular meeting on [March 23]. The proclamation acknowledged the accomplishments of Greek-American citizens and recognized the country as an important ally. Councilman Christopher Daubert presented the proclamation to a group of young students from the Greek Orthodox Youth of America saying, “It is important to celebrate the Greek American heritage that continues to benefit and influence our society.” The Council issued this proclamation to coincide with March 25, the 194th anniversary of Greek Independence Day, celebrating Greece’s liberation from the Ottoman Empire.