I feel so passionately about this that I am revisiting this topic.
I am an avid reader. I read all types of books. There is no one genre I will shrug off as worthless. I stumbled upon ‘The Bella Mafia Series‘ by accident. About a year or so ago I wrote a plea to Shonda Rhimes to take a look. The story I wrote was Make It Now: 3 Book Series Shonda Rhimes Needs To Cast Now.
Today, I am going to deep dive into why I believe that the Tv producers and show runners are missing out on making ‘The Bella Mafia‘ story.
1- It is enthralling and engaging. Giovanni Battaglia’s character is wonderfully complicated. He is wonderfully lovable, yet mystifyingly psychotically a sociopathic liar. There have been few characters over the years that you can cheer and boo at the same time. He deserves a place in tv history with J.R. Ewing and Rowland Pope.
2- The greater good always plays well on tv. The above brings me to the fact that ‘the greater good’ thread weaves its way in an earnest fresh way. Now, of course, the series tells the dark secrets of gangsters, but there is a ‘common good’ thread that appears. It is a touchstone to what makes good story telling. One of film’s greatest moments ever was the end of ‘Good Fellas’ when Ray Liotta’s character picks up his milk and slyly winks that he is going to live out his life as an ‘average snook’. You know that that’s not possible. Giovanni and his men all give you that vibe. The characters all venture into the greater good territories. The whole premise of recent hit show ‘Designated Survivor’ focuses on greater good while using evil.
3- Diverse Casting. The diversity of casting will give ethnic actors a chance to play diverse storylines. There are a few characters that could have a season or two worth of work. Yet, here is where I caution fans of the book, you have to let worthy actors bring the characters to life on screen. Case in point, the character of Kei would best be played by Daniel Dae Kim or Ian Anthony Dale. Both actors have solid delivery time and would make you believe in attraction that is mind blowing.
4- New Places to Explore– It would give tv viewers different plains to visit in the characters of the drama series. I know most people will view the book series as a romance series. I never went into it seeking that. I viewed the series as good story telling. The sub-stories alone, can play out by themselves. The exact same way that Sienna introduced the sub stories, is the exact same way that a great web series could support main story arcs. The side stories could keep you entertained for hours.
5- Marketers could have a real open door for merchandise tie-ins. Merchandisers could have field day with the different opportunities to sell products from the show. If it was marketed correctly, you could introduce a host of products. Those sponsorships could help set off production costs.
Bertoli could enjoy a product line of food. Food is a major character in all the books.
Diageo could score just by making sure that Windsor is the whiskey of choice.
Cate&Chloe could roll out a jewelry promotion line to tie in with the jewelry that takes a role in the story. If they just produced the bracelets which star in books one through three and show up again in book eight they could garner a mini fortune.
Nordstrom could support their “Nordstrom Rack’ by rolling out evening wear featured on the show.
6. The series takes the ripped from the headlines approach that television execs like so much. If you were to take a look at what happened to Italy in the 1980’s and 1990’s you could see the parallels that run throughout the story. In real world news in Italy, in 1992 revelations of high level corruption spark several years of arrests and investigations. Top anti-Mafia prosecutor, Giovanni Falcone, his wife and three bodyguards killed in car bomb attack. Pause for a moment and think about what was set in motion in the latest installment of the series.
7. Complicated supporting characters. You can love the Don and Donna, but it is the supporting casts antics that propel story changes. Catalina, Lorenzo and Dominic are just wonderfully complicated characters. Characters on a good show feel like humans inside the screen rather actors acting for a camera. Characters have to be unique, deviate from stereotypical archetypes in some way. These three just blow your mind. You never know where you are headed or why.
8. You could tell a mature storyline and not cheapen the substance. There are plenty of directors who would salivate at shooting imaginative scenes. I know for many of her fans they would want to see the steamier scenes, but I think this could actually present a way to tell a mature story without it being pornographic. In the last few years, we have lost the skill of imagination scenes. Alluring scenes work better on screen. Your viewers would tune in just for the implication of a scene shot well. I had a writing teacher who always reminded us that we need to leave the audience wanting more.
9. Dynamism. I recently had someone teach me the true meaning of this word and this series would be perfect! It means that a show evolves and the characters change. The best shows are stories and epics. It is why shows like Lost, The West Wing and Scandal have succeeded and have built supportive fan bases.
10. The Family Secret is just too delicious to pass up. Yes, I said that. If this were a tv show we would all see bread crumbs and Sienna could have the chance to revisit some scenes that would be butter on bread. There would be the ability for Sienna as author to fully flesh out some moments. In particular, I would love to see the scene with Lorenzo and Giovanni sitting at the nightclub in book one again, knowing what I know now. “The human heart in conflict with itself,” is what writing great Faulkner dubbed the root of all good writing. A secret also pushes the narrative.
11. End of Era Shows Do Great. Let’s face facts, the Battaglias are facing the end of an era in the book. Everything has changed. The protagonist embody some historical shift by thrusting him right into it. It is what made Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men such huge successes. The leads were stuck in the middle of monumental changes. The 1980s and early 1990s were an interesting time in the world. No one has had a chance to really revisit the crazy era.
12. Suspense would keep people tuned in. In long-form TV, suspense should build over many consecutive episodes. Book 2 ‘Ti Amo’ is just a long suspense ride. If shot well, you could have people binge watching just to see how it all turns out. Hitchcock knew that suspense is in the anticipation of violence rather than the gore was key to film lovers.
13. Tv fans love good stories. Sorry, television fans love long deep seasons. The book series could easily do a fall season and a spring season with 22 episodes each.
14. Drama keeps them coming back. I just finished the book about Primetime television and learned heaps of information. One of the driving reasons that Desperate Housewives was such a success was that the storyline kept you coming back for more. The Bella Mafia Series is a series that keeps you coming back for more. The twists and turns will make you seek out each episode.
15. It’s fresh and untapped. This factor alone should thrill production houses. Let’s face it. This story is fresh. It takes on a new version of a world so many of us have seen told exclusively from a hyper-masculine alpha world. Women are pivotal in this series. They are not afterthoughts, but true multi-faceted characters that frustrate and endear you to them. The last time we saw female characters this complicated was on a show that received little to no support a few years ago called ‘Lipstick Jungle‘.
16 Amazon could have an entire area of goods and that would help it launch a new approach to its Prime Area. It may be the first time they can tie in their Prime area with a full stance marketing opportunity. At the moment they have The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. This would give them the credence that they can tell time pieces.
17. African American Women can have characters that are not focused on being single professionals. As of late, we have had AA women be cast as struggle ridden single, heart heavy heroines. Bella is not that by any stretch of the imagination. If anything, she is the equal to Gio in many respects. Bella Donna is stunning proof of that. If that was not what happens when you mix Foxy Brown with Proud Mary I will eat my hat!
18. Series and Serials are now a great opportunity for actors, writers and producers to showcase their talents. The character development, set building and imagination for scenes would be a great chance to display the skills of many people who have specific talents that don’t get to showcase them.
19. The series has a built in life for spin offs and can be a true brand. Creating brands can be beneficial to the production house. NBC Universal is having a great run with it’s Chicago series. Fans tune in for the ‘One Chicago’ themed nights and participate with their twice a year event programming. Series spin offs that have individual voices are amazing opportunities. I think producers have not truly explored spinoffs the way they did back in the 1970’s. Case in point, if you look at the 1970’s Norman Lear was smart. He spun successful spinoffs of a mainline show. The Show was called All In The Family.
The spinoffs were as follows:
- Maude-She was Edith Bunker’s cousin.
- Good Times – Florida was once Maude’s maid.
- The Jeffersons- They were the next door neighbors to Archie Bunker.
- Checking In -Florence left the Jeffersons and managed a hotel.
- Archie Bunkers Place- Archie runs his neighborhood bar that he would go to in the original series.
- Gloria- Archie’s daughter gets divorced.
As listed above spin off stories from the main stories would just serve to be as tantalizing. Catalina deserves on screen time all by herself. Renaldo and Catalina can be a spinoff and that would allow them to tie back to the main storyline. It’s an opportunity to grow a mature brand that is a contemporary that is not science fiction. That brings me to my next reason.
20. The endless obsession with the occult can end. I am over zombies, witches, epic science fiction stories and the like. Many of us who enjoy story telling feel overwhelmed by the lack on story telling. I don’t need anymore vampires, demons, witches or end of world stories. Enough! Can I just have a story that talks about people. Who needs dragons, spells and curses all the time. I do not want to see zombies and gore.
21. Real relationships, emotional entanglements repercussions can be discussed. There are stories within the Bella Mafia series that can be touched on. There is an opportunity to discuss faith and where it stands in people. There are true friendships and adventures. There are deep betrayals that change people. One of the things that made the Godfather series such an success was the development of Michael and his relationship with his siblings and father.
22. Men and women can watch and be fans in equal measure. Many of the shows that are currently on air skew one direction or the other. I know that many folks say that the key focus would and should be the romance. I beg to differ, I have never felt that is the true driving force in the book. I believe the dynamics of the world they are in is the driving force. The business deals and the family underhandedness is just as captivating. Guys can see in men in the storylines characters with real struggles. Women can actually see women who are NOT damsels in distress. There are even secondary characters that can give you comic relief. Kyra’s next door neighbor comes to mind.
23. Sienna Mynx can bring fill a void that was left by Jackie Collins. Yes, I said it. Not since Jackie Collins have we seen such strong tie in family. What joy I would have if they even evolved the script with a reach out to the Santangelo Family. I think that by itself would be so stunning I would not be able to contain myself. If you don’t know the Santangelos, I suggest you go read up,
24. Netflix may need a series to make itself attractive in 2019 and beyond. The Bella Mafia series may be just the thing. The public is clamoring for experience television. What does that mean? Hallmark wins every year during the holidays because it offers experience television. It blankets itself in branding it as the holiday location.
25. This can be the start of a new phase in television production. As more and more entertainment entities venture into the book world, the pick of what to watch becomes more competitive. It was interesting to see Viacom start to play with Carl Webber and Roby Lawson’s books, Hallmark plays footsie with the most successful Christian writer of all time Karen Kingsbury. I for one believe that the upcoming series on the Baxter family will be a smash hit. Ms. Kingsbury wrote a 26 book series based on one family! Sienna has 9 books. The tv writers should jump for joy that with Sienna they get off easy.
Sienna poured a ton if time in this series. She even struggled through a short rewrite area. This series deserves to live on.
I really hope that the show gets a fair look in the upcoming year. It’s an opportunity that would only improve the public’s viewing pleasure.