Bringing Hollywood to Hartford: Canton man creates TV sitcom
Updated: Feb 2
By Stephen Emirzian
Special to Today Magazine Online
For 25 years, I’ve had the pleasure of working in television and journalism. It was no surprise when, while employed at a news station in Hartford, I came up with an idea for a comedy series that would be produced here.
The sitcom, titled "The Money Shot," is based loosely on my experience working in the fast-paced, stressful and often unintentionally funny world of live TV. The tagline for the series sums it up best: “In an industry where art imitates life, remembering who we are and what we stand for can be confusing.”
The main character, Dave, is burnt-out and fed up with his job when fate offers Dave a chance at the big time. An opportunity to produce a Hollywood action series without leaving Hartford. But is it a dream come true, or a nightmare in the making?
The idea for a weekly comedy show came easy. I started out producing a comedy series right out of college in the early '90s. I was fortunate enough to freelance as a joke-writer for "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and several lesser-known talk shows over the years.
In recent months, "The Money Shot" pilot has garnered a lot of attention. We have an award-winning director, Mike Mongillo (“Being Michael Madsen”). Executive producer Joe Young, the producer of “Diamond Ruff” and also a cartoonist, is spearheading the project. Several surprise celebrity cameos are planned.
Our first meet-and-greet occurred in March, launching the fundraising campaign and sponsorship possibilities for Hartford businesses. Among those in attendance was former Connecticut Speaker of the House Jim Amann, who helped establish the film tax credits for the state.
Amann was instrumental in suggesting a weekly series be produced in Connecticut, and he was one of many who gave his blessing for a series launch. Mark Dixon — a representative of the Connecticut Film, Video and Media Office who is helping with permits and location scouting — was also in attendance.
Our goal is to shoot the pilot in Hartford. Once edited, we will shop the series to various streaming services looking for original content. For the next few months we will raise funds, begin location scouting and audition talent. Some of the shooting will take place in Collinsville.
We have been fortunate to have so many local businesses and individuals helping with sponsorships, donating gifts and services for raffle prizes, and offering locations and props for free or at reduced cost — all because they see the incredible potential of bringing a bit of Hollywood to Hartford. We’re hoping that businesses in the Farmington Valley will be as generous as those in the city.
In conjunction with the Hartford Film and Media Commission, we are looking to create a school for the arts where Hartford students can learn filmmaking and production. The goal is to have the students work on a film or television series for credit and eventual employment in the industry.
As a way for locals to get involved, we’re offering producer credit for as little as a $100 sponsorship. If you are a local business and would like to see your business represented on screen with product placement — a pizza box, a logo on a sweatshirt or poster, etc. — that can be had for a $500 fee. We accept PayPal by donating to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Updates on the progress of "The Money Shot" are available on the sitcom's Facebook page.