Home / Author Archives: Jim Distasio

Author Archives: Jim Distasio

Jim Distasio is an award-winning writer, director, editor. His documentary “Sawdust: Life in the Ring,” about the Zoppè Family Circus, was an official selection at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival and the River’s Edge Film Festival. His documentary “5,000 Miles From Home,” about the impact of World War II on Chicago’s Italian-American community, earned two local Emmys on six nominations. Distasio earned a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, where he currently serves as an adjunct lecturer. His writings have appeared in numerous publications, including Chicago Tribune Magazine, American Profile, Vine Line and Fra Noi.

TV star Jeremy Sisto

Best known as the pencil-wielding team leader on the CBS hit drama “FBI,” Jeremy Sisto has steadily built an impressive acting resume thanks to a devotion to the sorts of details that bring his characters to life. Telly Savalas had his lollipops. Peter Falk had his trench coat. And Jeremy Sisto has his pencil. Appearing on the hit CBS drama “FBI,” now in its second season, Sisto’s Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jubal Valentine commands an elite team of investigators in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York field office, and he does it all while spinning, chewing and pointing ...

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Star Wars star Gina Carano

After making her mark as a mixed martial artist, then toiling in the trenches as a working actress, Gina Carano landed the role of a lifetime in the ongoing “Star Wars” saga. If you’re professional fighter-turned-actress Gina Carano, what do you do when one of Hollywood’s biggest directors asks to meet? Well, like any good Italian American, you bring a bottle of wine to the meeting, of course. And not just any wine, Carano told Fra Noi in an exclusive interview. This particular vintage was one that holds a special place in her heart because it comes from the Sonoma ...

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Unintended tenor Giorgio Berrugi

Giorgio Berrugi was making a name for himself as a concert clarinetist until an impromptu serenade sent him on a completely different career trajectory. Giorgio Berrugi’s unlikely career as one of opera’s most electrifying upstarts is proof that second acts aren’t just for the stage. The 41-year-old tenor, whose voice has been celebrated by opera critics and fans for its bright and full-bodied Italian sound, has ascended into rarefied air in little more than a decade. Berrugi has performed for some of opera’s most esteemed houses — including the Royal Opera House in London, Lincoln Center in New York City ...

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Transcendent tragedian Maria Agresta

Fueled by her affinity for Italian opera’s great tragic heroines, Maria Agresta recently returned to Chicago to play the role that launched her flourishing career. With a candle in hand, a poor seamstress searching for a light enters the life of a poet in 19th century Paris. They fall in love, they spar, they reconcile, and finally they mourn a shared flame extinguished far too soon. It’s beautiful. It’s heartbreaking. It’s quintessential opera. Giacomo Puccini’s “La bohème,” which first premiered in 1896, initially received tepid reviews. But the critics didn’t do much to halt the opera’s meteoric rise, and more ...

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WW II photographer Tony Vaccaro

Too young to join the Signal Corps, Tony Vaccaro defied his superiors and spirited a $47 camera into the teeth of battle, taking some of the most gripping photos of World War II while charting the course of his professional life. Huddled alongside his fellow infantrymen in a transport speeding across the English Channel, Private First Class Tony Vaccaro didn’t know he was headed to Omaha Beach on June 18, 1944, a little more than a week after the D-Day invasion had commenced. Before boarding the ship, Vaccaro’s superiors sternly warned the American soldiers that anyone caught taking pictures would ...

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WW II freedom fighter Pino Lella

A spy for the Allies and a participant in the underground railroad that protected Italy’s Jews during World War II, Giuseppe Lella considered himself a coward until an American author persuaded him to share his story with the world. The war came to Giuseppe “Pino” Lella right as he watched Fred Astaire dance with Ginger Rogers. It was the summer of 1943 and Lella, then 17 years old, was sitting next his brother, Mimmo, at a movie theater in his native Milan watching the cinematic duo twirl across the screen. For a brief moment, the war that had engulfed Europe ...

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Comedian Sebastian Maniscalco

Despite ascending to a comedic pantheon that includes the likes of Seinfeld and Chappelle, he remains rooted thanks to his Sicilian-American upbringing. When talking about ace standup Sebastian Maniscalco, Jerry Seinfeld once lovingly quipped, “Has anybody in the history of comedy had more syllables in their name?” That’s how you know Maniscalco, a comedian who has spent the last 20 years building a career up from scratch, has finally reached rock-star standup status. Here was Seinfeld, the reigning king of comedians who reportedly earned $69 million last year alone for his own standup, inviting Maniscalco on his streaming show, “Comedians ...

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