Movies & TV / Columns

Carl Nicita On Writing The New Movie Booze, Broads, and Blackjack, The Appeal of Crime Movies

September 2, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Booze, Broads, and Blackjack

The 411 Interview: Carl Nicita


Carl Nicita is a novelist, screenwriter, and actor known for writing the book Booze, Broads, and Blackjack, which first came out in 2015. Nicita’s book has now been turned into a full length feature film, also titled Booze, Broads, and Blackjack. Directed by Rickey Bird, the movie stars Joe Raffa and features Vincent Pastore, Felissa Rose, and Vincent Ward, the movie is now available to rent or own on Amazon Prime Video (check out the movie here). In this interview, Nicita talks with this writer about writing the script for Booze, Broads, and Blackjack, getting involved in the movie business, and more.



Bryan Kristopowitz: How did you get involved in making your novel Booze, Broads, and Blackjack into a movie? Did you always intend to write the script for the movie?

Carl Nicita: When I was writing the novel I had envisioned the book also becoming a movie, so I tried to write it in a way that would be more easily transformable into a screenplay. As a matter of fact, a friend of mine who loved the book commented, “This could make a great screenplay!”

BK: How did the eventual screenplay for Booze, Broads, and Blackjack match the book? How did the screenplay differ?

CN: A novel manuscript and copy written for a screenplay are two different animals. Novels are descriptive by nature and must conjure up images for the reader’s mind. It’s also somewhat easier to execute because you can just make up locations and scenery without worry of a cast, crew, or budget to work with. A screenplay (script) is completely different. You’re writing for a visual medium, so you’re creating a story that must captivate the audience on a screen. You also are limited in what you can choose for locations based on a budget. Another consideration is story line length (for a feature narrative, 90 minutes is ideal.)

My goal was to make the movie a little different than the novel, so in case a viewer read the book, they would be surprised at what happens in the movie. Specifically, some of the characters were composited and different in the movie than they were portrayed in the book, and the plot was slightly altered to maintain viewer interest.

BK: Was it always your intention to have part of the story take place in Syracuse, New York?

CN: Yes, Syracuse was an important location highlighted in both the novel and the movie. It was central to the theme of Jack King wanting to flee the grip of winter doldrums to the perceived promise of sunshine and opportunity on the west coast. And it’s close to my own story of leaving my hometown of Syracuse to live in the warmer climate of Southern California.

BK: How much of the story is based on real life, and how much is just stuff you made up?

CN: There’s no doubt some of the story is based on real life. The fact that I was a young radio personality from Syracuse coupled with my goal of leaving winter to reside in California. It’s also true that I love to play blackjack and have been in several tournaments in Las Vegas (my favorite city). When my wife and I were younger we would go to Vegas so often that my two boys grew tired of it and didn’t want to go. My favorite place to stay was the Stardust Casino (which closed in 2007). In the novel and movie, the hotel was named the Starburst.

BK: Describe your working relationship with director Rickey Bird.

CN: Working with Rickey Bird was awesome. Before we started pre-production on the movie, he and I spent a week at AFM (American Film Market) in Santa Monica getting to know each other. This really helped build a bond. And then once we started on the film, we were able to collaborate in sync, with a common goal of producing an excellent film despite the budget constraints we had to deal with.


BK: Why do you think audiences are so fascinated with crime movies/mob movies and stories?

CN: I think the genre of crime film/mob films is just naturally attractive to audiences because of the mystique of the bad guy image. Even though it’s an awful life, it’s always had a “glamourous” appeal to it. From Edward G. Robinson in Little Caesar, James Cagney in Public Enemy to Robert DeNiro in Casino, it’s all about the glitz, the money, the women: Booze, Broads and Blackjack! People just eat it up.

Take the real-life case of Johnny Roselli. He was a high living Hollywood mobster who actually helped produce some gangster movies in the 1950’s. In the 1960’s he was a mob casino boss in Las Vegas. And how did he end up? Stuffed in a fifty-gallon drum, floating in the ocean off the Florida coastline. Tell me that’s not a compelling story?

BK: Any moviemaking or writer heroes?

CN: I definitely have some movie making/writing heroes. For writing I am influenced by the late Stephen J. Cannell. Though he was dyslexic, he became a prolific TV writer and producer, with such shows as Adam-12, The Rockford Files, The A-Team, Baretta, and on and on. He also wrote at least 17 novels and had his own production studios.
Other influences include: Nicholas Pileggi, Mario Puzo, David Chase (who incidentally started out with Cannell), Francis Ford Coppola, and, of course, Martin Scorsese.

BK: Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

CN: Right now, I am just formulating some prospects of new projects, but nothing specific to disclose at this time. I will note at the end of my novel, there is a “preview chapter” for a book sequel that could also lead to a new movie. So who knows?

BK: What do you hope audiences get out of Booze, Broads, and Blackjack?

CN: I hope that viewers can appreciate the deeper story beneath the surface of Booze, Broads, and Blackjack. Even though the main character is deeply flawed, he is forced to make some critical moral decisions while balancing an attempt at achieving a lifelong goal.


BK: What was it like playing a blackjack dealer in a movie? Was acting in a movie everything you thought it would be?

CN: I loved playing the part of the blackjack dealer in the film. It actually was kind of a fantasy of mine to be a blackjack or craps dealer in Las Vegas. It really was a lot of fun having that awesome opportunity to portray one in the movie!


A very special thanks to Carl Nicita for agreeing to participate in this interview and to david j. moore for setting it up.

Watch Booze, Broads, and Blackjack here

Check out my review of Booze, Broads, and Blackjack here.

Buy the Booze, Broads, and Blackjack book here.

Check out the official Booze, Broads, and Blackjack Facebook page here.

Check out the official Film Regions International, Inc. Facebook page here.

Check out the Hectic Films official website here and Twitter page here.

Carl Nicita image courtesy of Carl Nicita. Poster image courtesy of Film Regions International, Inc. All other images from Booze, Broads, and Blackjack Facebook page.