Sunday, February 12, 2017

Toni Kalem

In sports when one contributes to the victory without being a superstar they're called team players. In the entertainment world - part of the ensemble. Toni Kalem is a triple threat to that ensemble because she writes and directs as well. She also has an incredible screen presence and instincts, which means the stars have to be on their A game to not be upstaged by this team player.

I first noticed Toni Kalem in 1979 when she co-starred with some other Not Very Famous actors, John Friedrich, Linda Manz and Erland Van Lidth in what would become the cult favorite, The Wanderers. From then on, and even still today I perk up if I see her name in the credits. Although I'm often disappointed by the size of her role, I've never been surprised by the high quality of her performances.

Her highest profile role appears to be her last as the widowed wife and body shop owner, Angie Bonpensiero on the Sopranos, where her talents stood side by side with that phenomenal cast of ensemble actors. She only appeared in eleven episodes of that iconic show, but left a memorable contribution to its success.

Even though she is of Jewish decent, Toni Kalem seems to have been typecast most of her career in the role of the Italian female, which may have something to do with why she's had such limited exposure. Whatever the reason, she has award worthy talent which I hope some day will be recognized.

As I mentioned Toni Kalem also writes and directs. In addition to writing an episode of The Sopranos, she also wrote and directed the movie, A Slipping-Down Life, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1999. An internet search says she will be directing Penelope Cruz in Kalem's adaptation of the book, Layover, but haven't been able to verify if production has started or will.

In the meantime Ms. Kalem, should you happen to stumble on to this blog, let us know what else you've been up to. Would love to see more of your work whether it's in front of the camera or behind it.

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