WEEPERS

Nick Chiarkas

Book Cover

GENRE

MYSTERY SUSPENSE/THRILLER

    Core Theme

    COMING OF AGE; OVERCOMING EVIL

    TIME PERIOD

    1940s & '50s

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    GOODFELLAS; STAND BY ME; THE OUTSIDERS; UNCUT GEMS; THE IRISHMAN; ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA

    CHARACTER LIST

    ANGELO: 13. LEAD. BRAVE AND SELFLESS.

    NUNZIO: 51. HEAD OF A CRIME FAMILY IN THE AREA, GODFATHER TO ANNA, ANGELO'S MOTHER.

    FATHER JOE: 52. PRIEST IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD WHO’S GOOD FRIENDS WITH NUNZIO AND LOOKS OUT FOR ANGELO AND HIS MOTHER.

    ANNA: 30S. ANGELO’S MOTHER WHO TAKES CARE OF HIM, HIS YOUNGER BROTHER, AND HIS AGORAPHOBIC UNCLE.

    TATE: 14. ANGELO’S LOYAL BEST FRIEND, ALSO A MEMBER OF THE WEEPERS.

    MAC: 30S. ANGELO’S MISSING (PRESUMED DEAD) FATHER, LARGELY RAISED BY FATHER JOE.

    Logline

    The 1957 murder of an undercover cop in a NYC housing project has unexpected ties to the disappearance of a father walking home in those same projects with his six-year-old son, Angelo, on Christmas Eve six-years before. Angelo, now 13, witnessed the killing and the killers know he saw them.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 18-34,35-54,13-17,55+

    Target Gender: Universal

    Setting

    The Lower East Side of New York City in 1957

    Based on a True Story

    No

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: with a Publisher

    Publisher: Henschell House

    Year Published: 2015

    Starting Description

    The Two Bridges neighborhood of Manhattan’s Lower East Side is the setting for Weepers. In the 1950s, “Two Bridges” defined the slums moldering between the Manhattan Bridge to the north and the Brooklyn Bridge to the south.

    Ending Description

    The events forge a union between a priest, a Mafia boss, a detective, and Angelo, a gang member. We learn, if you drop a rock into the East River, the ripples will go to Italy. In the end, Weepers shows us that the courage of the underdog, despite fear and moral ambiguity, will conquer intimidation

    Group Specific

    While this is fiction it is based on several true events on the LES in the Al Smith projects, Little Italy, involving street gangs in the 1950s, Mafia, the Catholic Church, and Jr. High School.

    Hard Copy Available

    Yes

    ISBN

    978159595-390-9

    Mature Audience Themes

    Language/Profanity

    Plot - Other Elements

    Coming of Age,Meaningful Message,Twist,Happy Ending

    Plot - Premise

    Overcoming Monster/Villain,Internal Journey/Rebirth

    Main Character Details

    Name: Angelo Pastamadeo, Nunzio Sabino, Father Joe Bonifacio, NYPD Detective Hartz

    Age: Angelo 13; Nunzio 51; Father Joe 52; Detective Hartz 32

    Gender: Male

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Complex,Confident,Decisive,Villainous,Uneducated,Religious,Skillful,Engaging,Empathetic,Flexible,Heroic,Leader,Underdog,Funny

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this

    Development Pitch

    Weepers were influenced by a combination of The Wire, A Bronx Tale, and The Godfather. The murder of an undercover cop in a New York City Housing Project in 1957 has unexpected ties to the unsolved disappearance of a young father walking home in those same Projects with his son, Angelo, on Christmas Eve 1951. The only witness to the cop killing is Angelo, now 13, as he was on his way to set fire to a grocery store at 2:00 am. The killers saw him. These events forge a union between a priest, a Mafia boss, a police detective, and Angelo, a gang member. In Weepers, we see that if you drop a rock into the East River, the ripples will go all the way to Italy. In the end, Weepers shows us that the courage of the underdog—despite fear and moral ambiguity—will conquer intimidation.

    Genre

    THRILLER, DRAMA

    Brief

    Six years ago, a boy's father went missing on Christmas Eve. At 13, he's focused on protecting his family and his friends, who he inspires to start their own gang to compete with the others in their neighborhood. When he accidentally witnesses the murder of an undercover cop while committing his own crimes, he becomes embroiled in a mystery much larger than him which ties back to his father's own disappearance. Bringing together two priests, a mob boss, a NYPD detective, and the boys' gang of fellow teenagers, he learns what kind of man he wants to be while facing his fears and standing by his principles.

    Overall Rating

    GOOD

    Point of View

    THIRD PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: FAIR

    Characterization: EXCELLENT

    Commerciality: GOOD

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: FAIR

    Premise: GOOD

    Structure: FAIR

    Theme: GOOD

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    The book profile mostly reflects the book correctly, but the logline and character details could be clearer. The book is also probably slightly more male-leaning with a 25+ age demographic.

    Draw of Story

    Mac’s disappearance is a fantastic way to start the story, and it’s an immediate hook in for the audience. It’s frightening and suspenseful, and the unsolved nature makes it all the more compelling. Angelo has been shaped by this night, and everyone around him knows it.

    Possible Drawbacks

    The pace of the book is sometimes slow, and the storyline feels uneven as a consequence. A more straight forward story focused on fewer characters would help for both Angelo’s story and the overarching mystery plot to stand out better. Several characters’ perspectives are employed throughout, which almost tells the audience too much. We often know what almost everyone is thinking or feeling (or plotting), so the tension is lessened. There’s also a lot of exposition on the page, explaining things to the audience that they’d likely figure out otherwise.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY RELIES A LITTLE BIT ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    Angelo’s characterization in the book is stunning. It’s a perfect hook into the novel, and it would be just as great of a hook with the right casting in a film. This is the kind of role that could be a breakout for a young star, and there are plenty of meaty adult roles for older actors, too. The characters make this a draw for potential adaptation and eventual audiences alike, which is fantastic. The mystery element is also so strong.

    Fanbase Potential

    Absolutely this could have a large fanbase. This could be adapted into an award-winning feature.

    Awards Potential

    With the genre and realistic tone, it’s easy to see this having awards potential, from the cast to the crew involved.

    Envisioned Budget

    MEDIUM BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    GOODFELLAS; STAND BY ME; THE OUTSIDERS; UNCUT GEMS; THE IRISHMAN; ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA

    What’s New About the Story

    The most unique aspect is the focus on children, especially with Angelo being the main character. The book otherwise can fall back on gangster story tropes with Uncle Nunzio and his activities. Focusing on the kids is when this book succeeds the most, such as Angelo being desperate to dance with Audrey. Sure there’s a lot of adult stuff going on his life, but at the end of the day he’s still just a boy who likes a girl — and that’s great. An adaptation would do well to keep the focus on the Weepers themselves as much as possible.

    Lead Characters

    The characters in the book are very well-drawn, and they all feel like real people, both in their dialogue and in how they react to the world around them. What’s more, they’re all memorable, something that can be difficult to achieve. It’s easy to see them translated onto the screen, especially Angelo. He’s a good kid, and even when he does bad things, he’s doing them for such sympathetic reasons that an audience would undoubtedly be on his side. He simply wants to protect the people he loves, no matter the cost to himself.

    Uniqueness of Story

    This is smartly kept from being a dime a dozen Mafia or gang story set in New York thanks to the main character being a child. Focusing on the kids’ gangs and interactions is clever, and well done besides. It makes this stand out, while still interweaving the more familiar genre standbys. The mystery of Mac’s disappearance is a great addition, too, and the way that story is revisited throughout.

    Possible Formats

    Film - Indie, Film - Streaming, TV Series - Limited Run / Mini-Series, TV Series - Streaming

    Analyst Recommendation

    CONSIDER

    Justification

    This could be adapted into a great character piece that still has a compelling story and a great mystery. All of the characters are vivid, and it’s a unique angle on a well-loved film genre. The fact that the author is familiar with this neighborhood really shines through, and there’s such a heart to the book that would show onscreen. It’s easy to picture a feature trailer either, that would set up the mystery as well as Angelo’s relationship with his friends. This is such a well rounded book that’s perfect for an adaptation.

    Brief

    Six years ago, a boy's father went missing on Christmas Eve. At 13, he's focused on protecting his family and his friends, who he inspires to start their own gang to compete with the others in their neighborhood. When he accidentally witnesses the murder of an undercover cop while committing his own crimes, he becomes embroiled in a mystery much larger than him.

    What We Liked

    The characters and their journeys are so strong, and they’re perfectly set up for an audience to love (or, in some cases, hate) them. Angelo is empathetic, and he’s always easy to root for. He’s the underdog, but he’s never alone. His friends and family are always there for him, which is heartening in what could be a darker story. With a hard-won positive ending that feels realistic, this story is really the complete package.

    Film: This book is tailor-made to be a compelling entry in the well loved crime film genre. It brings a new twist in that Angelo is much younger than the average protagonist in a Mafia movie, making it feel fresh and accessible to a wider audience. These kinds of movies are produced every year, often to awards and great acclaim, and there’s bound to be a good deal of interest both on the industry side as well as the audience’s.

    TV: It’s easy to imagine Angelo’s story expanded, as there are already several characters involved. The number of characters with their own specific and interesting subplots means there’s no shortage of routes to take and episodes to be had. The mystery of Angelo’s missing father as well as what he saw in the park could easily be drawn out for an entire first season, and a TV series could age alongside Angelo and those in his life.

    Key points: Awards potential; Great characters to draw A-list talent; Familiar New York crime background with a twist; Engaging mystery ; Inspired by some true events and locations

    Synopsis

    On Christmas Eve 1951, ANGELO’s father MAC disappears into the night. Six years later, Angelo still lives in the New York City projects with his mother ANNA, as well as Mac’s brother JOHNNY, who’s been agoraphobic since returning from the war. Mac is presumed dead, and Angelo feels responsible for his family.

    Angelo stands up for people when he can, like his best friend TATE. Young single mother Anna struggles with Angelo’s recklessness, and she confides in a local priest FATHER JOE. Joe practically raised Mac and Johnny, and he’s good friends with NUNZIO SABINO, a Mafia boss and Angelo’s mother's godfather. Angelo works for BOOKMAN’s deli. The man talked badly about his mother years ago, after Mac’s disappearance, and Angelo has regretted not standing up for her while planning his revenge. Unbeknownst to anyone, Angelo sets an explosion in the cellar of the shop. It’s much bigger than he expected, and it destroys the shop and injures him.

    As he’s rushing home, he’s pulled into hiding by SAMMY, a homeless man. Sammy is wearing the shirt of the Satan’s Knights gang, a ruthless organization that Angelo has run foul of before. Sammy tells him they gave him this shirt, which says “Marty,” in exchange for his. Unbeknownst to either of them, Marty was an undercover cop the Knights killed. Angelo pays Sammy for hiding him, and Sammy gives him a coin he found in return. The coin is actually the saint medallion from the necklace that ERNESTO, a younger Knight, likes to show off. Angelo hangs onto it, knowing it will make Ernesto mad. Angelo pretends to get hit by a car to hide his wounds, but he ends up having to confess to his Uncle Nunzio so that Nunzio doesn’t go after anyone else for the crime. Nunzio is sympathetic as Angelo did it for the right reasons, but he encourages Angelo to come to him for help next time.

    Angelo turns thirteen, and he, Tate, and their friends agree they should start a gang: The Reapers. The Knights are all on the hunt for Ernesto’s medallion since it ties them to Marty’s murder. Meanwhile Angelo views the Knights as responsible for Mac’s death, and he wants revenge on them. Father Joe starts to put together the pieces, and he tries to look out for Sammy since he knows something even if he doesn’t quite realize it. The Knights begin calling the Reapers the Weepers because Angelo tears up when he gets hit in the face by one of them. His Uncle Johnny encourages him to lean into the name instead of fighting it. Angelo overhears a plot by the Knights to attack Nunzio. Angelo races to tell Nunzio before anything can happen. The Knights are mad that now they have Nunzio against them, and they suspect that Angelo has the medallion. JIMMY fights Angelo on a rooftop, and Jimmy ends up falling to his death. This gains the Weepers and Angelo a dangerous reputation. Sammy winds up dead, and thanks to Angelo’s tip a DETECTIVE HARTZ who’s close with his family realizes the Knights are likely to blame for both him and Marty.

    Hartz and Anna’s brother FRANK realize that a parolee, WILLIE MAX, was involved with Mac’s death. Frank interrogates Willie and learns that he and STAN were commissioned by the Knights to kill Mac. Father Joe, though, believes that Mac was left to die in the trunk, because no one actually saw Mac’s body. Frank kills Willie, and Joe goes to Italy to track down a lead on Mac. Mac has stayed away for six years to keep his family safe, but now that everyone involved is dead, he feels like he can return. Meanwhile the Weepers agree to play a playground game with the Knights, but the Knights instead use the opportunity to beat Angelo in return for Jimmy’s death. Nunzio’s men and Johnny’s army buddies step in just in time and kill two of the Knights attacking Angelo and his young friends. Nunzio gives the credit to the Weepers, though, so that Angelo is safer on the streets. Mac returns to New York, and Angelo cautiously accepts him back into his life.

    About The Author

    Nick Chiarkas grew up in the Al Smith housing projects in the Two Bridges neighborhood on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. When he was in fourth grade his mother was told by the principal of PS-1 that he was unlikely to ever complete high school, so she “must steer him toward a simple and secure vocation.” Instead, he became a writer, with a few stops along the way: a New York City Police Officer, the Deputy Chief Counsel for the President’s Commission on Organized Crime, and the Director of the Wisconsin State Public Defender Agency. On the way he picked up a doctorate from Columbia University and a law degree from Temple University, and he was a Pickett Fellow at Harvard. How many mothers are told their child is hopeless? How many kids with potential simply surrender to desperation? That’s why Nick wrote WEEPERS—for them.