AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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City News
Director: David Fishelson (Dir)
Release Date:   9 Sep 1983
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 9 Sep 1983
Duration (in mins):   65
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Cast:   Elliot Crown (Tom Domino)  
    Nancy Cohen (Daphne) in
  with: Alan Steinfeld (Joker in bar)  
    Anthony Napolitano (Ambulance worker)  
    Catherine Brennan (Girl in bar)  
    Valerie Felitto (Dee Dee)  
    Tony Mangia (Tony)  
    Gail Gibney (Gail)  
    Warner Schreiner (Businessman)  
    Barry Steiger (Businessman)  
    John Winston (Businessman)  
    Pat Cupo (Ambulance worker)  
    Allen Lieb (Businessman)  
    Ralph Patterson (Radio announcer)  
    Steven Neeren (Radio announcer)  
    Craig Lyman (Businessman)  
    Celia Maurice (Radio announcer)  
    Gordon Bressack (Businessman)  
    Beatrice Terry (Radio announcer)  
    Barbara Barrett (Radio announcer)  
    Thomas Vasiliades (Radio announcer)  
  and Thomas Trivier (Frenchy) as
    Pinky Black (Girl in bar)  
    Matthew Fitzgerald (Bartender)  
    David Keller (Man at video)  
    Richard Schlesinger (Lou)  
    Tom Recht (Tommy)  
    Sidney Shemel (Investor)  
    Carola von Hoffmanstahl (Businesswoman)  
    David Fishelson (Ambulance worker/Punch)  
    Zoe Zinman (Judy)  

Summary: On the Lower East Side of New York City, Tom Domino, former publisher-editor of the neighborhood weekly newspaper, The Other Paper, types feverishly in his darkened office, recounting the story of his ruination. It is now 3:00 a.m., and he must complete his story by 8:00 a.m., when he will be removed from the premises. Tom had taken up cartooning as a distraction from the pressures of operating a newspaper, but is now consumed with the idea of creating a comic strip. His funds are running low and the publication’s demise is imminent unless he can raise $20,000 through investors, or create a comic strip that will boost sales. Searching for inspiration, Tom visits “The Saloon,” a neighborhood bar, where he meets a flirtatious young woman named Daphne. She buys him a drink, which is quickly intercepted by another man sitting nearby. Despite being annoyed, Tom is able to visualize the bar patrons as cartoon characters, and the situation as the foundation for a story line. He returns home and writes his first strip, which appears in the next issue. Unable to focus on other duties, Tom returns to The Saloon for more inspiration. His flirtation with Daphne escalates, and he takes her home that night to show her his drawings. Daphne becomes Tom’s lover, and as his cartoons gain popularity, she also becomes his muse. In time, Tom admits that he was losing touch with reality, erroneously believing that a comic strip could save his paper. When Daphne recommends that Tom pursue a career as a cartoonist, he balks, refusing to adhere to anyone’s deadlines except his own. Meanwhile, Frenchy, Tom’s “right-hand man,” threatens to resign from the paper unless an effort is made to raise the necessary funds to keep it in business. Tom embarks on a fruitless search for investors, and finally resorts to placing an advertisement on the front page, soliciting contributions from readers. Over time, Daphne complains about Tom’s unsentimental portrayal of their relationship in his cartoons, and considers the paper to be a rival for his affections. After receiving only $3 in reader contributions, the newspaper staff gathers for a party to celebrate its final issue, during which a package arrives, containing $20,000 from an anonymous benefactor. Intent on not squandering his good fortune, Tom devotes virtually all of his energy to the paper, leaving little time for Daphne. In addition, he no longer needs her help in writing the comic strip, as the characters have taken on “a life of their own.” Daphne resents Tom’s neglect and confronts him while he is at his drawing board. When he tries to postpone the conversation, Daphne challenges him to explain how she can be a significant character in his comic strip but not in his life. Tom counters by saying that she has never offered any help to his business. She storms out the door, swearing never to see him again. Five years later, Tom is the owner of a successful, well-staffed newspaper, enabling him to take time off for the Thanksgiving weekend. Though he abandoned cartooning after losing Daphne, Tom suddenly has the urge to take it up again and needs her for inspiration. He drives to her apartment as she is about to leave town for the holiday, and follows her to her family mansion on Long Island. As Tom watches Daphne enter the house, he realizes that she was the anonymous benefactor who saved his business. He approaches the mansion with the intention of telling Daphne that he wants to pay back the money she gave him, but changes his mind and returns to his car. As Tom drives back toward the city, he is involved in a head-on collision. Back in the present day, Tom admits that he has been creating a work of fiction, and ends the story with his own death. However, he decides to rewrite the narrative, allowing himself to survive the crash with a broken arm. At 8:00 a.m., Tom tells Daphne over the telephone that he is “just saying goodbye to the old place.” On his desk is the final issue of The Other Paper and a script, titled “City News: A Comedy in Three Acts, dedicated to Daphne. The paper was not saved by a $20,000 gift, Daphne never left Tom, and he has not given up cartooning. He hopes to sell his script and possibly use the proceeds to start another newspaper. In the meantime, he waits for the movers to arrive.  

Production Company: Zi/Fi Productions  
Production Text: A Film by Fishelson/Zinman
Distribution Company: Cinecom International Films  
Director: David Fishelson (Dir)
  Zoe Zinman (Dir)
  Richard Hoover (Prod mgr)
  Alan Steinfeld (Asst dir)
Producer: David Fishelson (Prod)
  Zoe Zinman (Prod)
Writer: David Fishelson (Wrt)
  Zoe Zinman (Wrt)
Photography: Jonathan Sinaiko (Dir of photog)
  David Imber (Asst cam)
  Phyllis Taylor (Elec)
Art Direction: David Keller (Drawings)
Film Editor: David Fishelson (Ed)
  Zoe Zinman (Ed)
Set Decoration: Lolly Phoenix (Props)
  Let There Be Neon (Neon by)
Music: Saheb Sarbib (Mus)
  Jules Baptiste (Mus)
  Monty Waters (Mus)
  Duke Ellington (Addl mus)
  The Normal (Addl mus)
Sound: Checker Dreher (Sd rec)
  Harriet Hirshorn (Sd rec)
  Neddi Heller (Sd rec)
  Rachel Field (Sd rec)
  Lee Dichter (Sd mixed)
  Checker Dreher (Sd des)
Special Effects: Daniel Nauke (Opt and spec eff)
  Robert Luttrell (Opt and spec eff)
Production Misc: Daniel Zinman (Prod asst)
  Robert Schwebber (Prod asst)
  Lisa Beattie (Cont)
  Fishelson/Zinman (Cartoons wrt by)
  David Keller (Cartoons wrt by)
  Fishelson/Zinman ([Cartoon] Seqs conceived by)
Country: United States
Language: English

Music: "Lady Day" ©1969 Saheb Sarbib, performed by Saheb Sarbib Quartet, recorded live in Europe 1974, used by permission of SASA Music Inc.; "B. Fields" ©1972 Saheb Sarbib, performed by Saheb Sarbib Quartet, recorded live in Europe 1974, 1976, used by permission of SASA Music Inc., Marge Prds.; "Egypt" ©1972 Saheb Sarbib, performed by Saheb Sarbib Quartet, recorded live in Europe 1976, 1979, used by permission of SASA Music Inc., Marge Prds., Cadence Jazz Records; "New York Party," ©1981 Saheb Sarbib, performed by Saheb Sarbib Quartet, recorded by The Saheb Sarbib Multinational Big Band, used by permission of Cadence Jazz Records; "Ring Dem Bells," ©1958 Warner Bros. Music Corp., performed by The Duke Ellington Orchestra, used by permission of RCA Records Corp.; "Golden Cress," ©1947 MKE, Inc., performed by The Duke Ellington Orchestra, used by permission of CBS Records, Inc.; "Glare," ©1982 by Jules Baptiste, performed by Jules Baptiste/Red Decade; "Kneel," ©1982 by Jules Baptiste, performed by Jules Baptiste/Red Decade; "Daphne's Theme" ("Modesto"), ©1975 by Monty Waters, performed by The Monty Waters Quartet; "Machomusic," ©1978 by Peter Gordon, performed by Peter Gordon, used by permission of Lovely Music.
Songs: "Warm Leatherette," ©1978 Warner Bros. Music Corp., performed by The Normal, used by permission of Mute Records.
Composer: Jules Baptiste
  Duke Ellington
  Peter Gordon
  Daniel Miller
  Irving Mills
  Saheb Sarbib
  Monty Waters
Source Text:

Physical Properties: Sd:

Genre: Comedy-drama
Subjects (Major): Cartoonists
  Comic strips
  New York City--Lower East Side
  Premarital sex
Subjects (Minor): Automobile accidents
  Employer-employee relations
  Games, Electronic
  Long Island (NY)
  Newspaper publishers

Note: The story is told primarily through voiceover narration.
       The film opens with the following quotes: "'A confusion of the real with the ideal never goes unpunished.'--Goethe"; "'Hit it.'--Presley"; End credits contain the following statements: "City News would not have been possible without the help of Frank Moldstad, Sidney Shemel, Jimmy Levitt, Bernard Sargent, Michael Friedman, and above all John Lesch, the real editor and publisher of The Other Paper, which existed from 1981-82, and which closed for lack of funds. This film is dedicated to John and the memory of The Other Paper "; "Special Thanks to Dave Allan; Ken Barber; Rod Buckle, Mute Records; Bettina Brooks; Jean Caplan, Newsday; Larry Cohn; Cress Courtney, MKE; Stu Deutsch; Harold Fine, RCA Records; Joe Fishelson; Julia Fishelson; Nick Fishelson; Burt Haber, UA Music; Michael Herz, Troma Films; Hot Sunday Studios: Peter Nichol and Susan Cohen; Al Kohn, Warner Bros. Music; Susan Lazarus; Henry Marx, Warner Bros. Music; Keith McCarthy; Tim Miller; Al Pearl; Charlie Peck; Scott Pollack; Dawn Popham; John Ricciardi; Dave Sperling; Tim Spitzer; Seymour Stein, Sire Records; Dominick Tavella; Paul Tomasco; Peter Tuchman; John Vorisek; Buzz Witherell; YFVA; Greg Z. and the gang at Du Art; David Zinman; Sara Zinman"; and "in New York City."
       A review in the 20 Sep 1983 Village Voice stated that the film was made on a budget of $40,000. Its New York City premiere on 19 Mar 1983, as reported in the 23 Mar 1983 Var, followed the 1983 Atlanta Independent Film Festival, where it was voted Best Dramatic Film. It also played at numerous festivals throughout North America and Europe. According to the 20 Jul 1983 Var, the premiere was financed by filmmakers Zoe Zinman and David Fishelson, with prize money from the Atlanta festival. The free screening attracted nearly 1,000 audience members, many of whom were contacted through mailing lists from organizations such as the Independent Feature Project, and the Association for Independent Video and Filmmakers. The screening resulted in a U.S. distribution deal with Cinecom International Films, and the purchase of broadcast rights by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), which televised the film in 1984. Cinecom planned a New York City opening in Aug 1983, followed by openings in Boston, MA, Los Angeles, CA, Chicago, IL, and other major U.S. cities. Because of its brief running time, the film was packaged for general release with the short subject Porklips Now (1980).
       City News opened in New York City 9 Sep 1983 to mixed reviews, though the 7 Sep 1983 Var stated that it “evidences embryonic filmmaking talent.” 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Hollywood Reporter   14 Sep 1983   p. 14.
Los Angeles Times   24 Apr 1984.   
New York Times   9 Sep 1983   p. 6.
Variety   29 Dec 1982   p. 17.
Variety   23 Mar 1983.   
Variety   20 Jul 1983.   
Variety   31 Aug 1983.   
Variety   7 Sep 1983.   
Village Voice   20 Sep 1983.   

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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