WHO’S JENNA…?

Romantic Comedies typically are on the lighter side and provide more drama than comedy.  WHO’S JENNA…? is a fresh romantic comedy with a great story that includes plenty of comedy, zaniness, drama, and porn is involved, but in a graceful manner.  

WHO’S JENNA…? is about Jonathan Burke (Bill Sorvino), a financial advisor, starts dating Jenna Casey (Tracey Birdsall), an aspiring lawyer, Jonathan’s best friend Andy Roma (Joseph D’Onofrio) is convinced she looks exactly like a famous adult film star.

Written and Directed by Thomas Baldinger the concept and story came about from real life experiences as Baldinger shares, “The original idea for JENNA came from my father who works for a large financial news firm.  Every day he writes his thoughts on the financial market…what is going to happen and what has already happened.  At the end of his daily letter he writes an “odd story” or a “funny story” that is usually not related to the financial industry.  One time though his interesting story was sort of related to the financial industry.  It was about how a large commercial bank was being sued by a few adult film stars because the bank decided to close their accounts due to the nature of their work.  Well, the adult film stars won the case and were paid a handsome settlement.  I thought “Wow that’s pretty cool….”.  I thought that I could find a way of spinning that into a comedy……as I don’t think I am good enough to write something that heavy. “

Not only was the film’s concept a true life event, Baldinger brought some old friends and experiences into the film, which contributed some comical moments that the audience will be able to relate to.  “Some other real life experiences…well Andy jumping into the garbage dump to search for his “BOX OF PORN”.  I actually knew a friend of mine who did that when he was moving out of his place.  His roommate threw out all of his adult videos and he literally jumped into a garbage dumpster searching for them.”  

The film contains multiple twists and turns, one of the turning points takes place at a drag show and that too, was a real life experience for Baldinger.  “I actually attended a drag queen show with a  coworker who was gay.  Well, this drag queen show was pretty awful…I mean the main attraction looked more manly than ever….hence the surprise in our film.  I won’t say it because that will just give away a major plot point of JENNA.”  Baldinger took his hilarious script and worked very closely with the actors, including Bill Sorvino who played the lead role of Jonathan.   Sorvino and Baldinger invested a lot of time and effort developing his character.  “Tom and I spent many hours on the phone and in person really dissecting the role of Jonathan and trying to arrive at the most impactful character development while allowing the crazy storylines that is Who’s Jenna…? to breath,.  tells Sorvino.  “As the lead, I recognized that I had to carry the film, however I didn’t want to take over the story since we had so many amazingly talented actors creating this outrageous ride! Working with Tom Baldinger is an actor’s dream come true.  He’s a passionate and extremely talented artist and he’s truly an actor’s director. Tom has a knack for getting the best performances out of his actors while allowing them to express their artistic landscape within the context of the piece. It’s truly remarkable. We are working on some future projects as we speak. I would work with Tom any day any time and I have told him so more than a few times.”

Jonathan not only has to deal with Andy’s claim that Jenna resembles a porn star, but he also has to juggle his relationship with his boss who is possibly black-mailing him and is Jenna’s brother-in-law.  Sorvino’s role as Jonathan obviously is a complex one as he shares “What was fun about this role was how many different directions Jonathan’s mind had to be in and hold it all together and come out the winner!  Basically, imagine meeting the girl of your dreams who happens to resemble a particular porn star, your best friend is obsessed with porn and to top it off your boss is out to get you for having a gay protégé and dealing with porn star clients but boy does he have some major skeletons himself! All of that while maintaining the look of an ordinary guy living an ordinary life. That was what Jonathan was trying to accomplish!”

The script provides comedy and is structurally sound with ideally timed setbacks, roadblocks, and momentum to keep the story moving forward.  The film provides multiple whacky turns and puts Jonathan in awkward situations.  The characters are intriguing and entertaining and credit goes to all the actors’ performances as they did a stupendous job keeping the audience engrossed.   Sorvino highly praised working with the entire cast, “Working with Garry Pastore, Joe D’Onofrio, Tracey Birdsall, Michael Tota, Lenny Venito and Vic DiBitetto was probably the most fun I have ever had as an actor. In fact, it was the fourth time Joe and I have worked together and now Garry and I have television pilot in the works. Who’s Jenna…? was truly the start of some amazing things!”

The story focuses on Jonathan and Jenna’s relationship and Sorvino and Birdsall took the script to the next level with their performances.  “We had a solid script when we came to set but because I was blessed with such great actors we found ourselves re-writing on set,” tells Baldinger.  “I spent a lot of time on the phone with Bill and Tracey discussing character development and when we came to shooting we found ourselves cutting lines and/or improving upon what I wrote.  Garry, Joe, Mike and Edwin also brought some amazing ad libs to the shoot,…that at times what they did was better than what I wrote.  I like to work in a collaborative environment and I wanted to give the actors the freedom to explore what was written on the page….because, yes, I wrote the script but these actors are living and breathing the characters every day and I felt very comfortable with all of their instincts.” Birdsall adds, “Tom Baldinger knew that he had a hilarious script, but his excellent casting is what really made this so easy to live…”

The way Birdsall and Sorvino fed off each other’s characters is fantastic.  They come off as a genuine couple and even when they have their disagreements it’s not over the top and their reactions are believable.  Even during the women and men great porn debate which provides some good female perspective of adult film stars.  Birdsall shares how pleasurable it was working with Sorvino, “Bill Sorvino and I really had great chemistry from the moment we met (we literally met in the makeup room as I had flown in from the West Coast), which made the flow of the shooting very easy as we just let the characters unfold… when those cameras were rolling, our characters were smitten. The nickname “Jennathan” was born from the very beginning and the whole shoot was really a breeze as we just brought what was on the page to life.”

Sorvino’s great experience working with Birdsall was mutual, “Working with Tracey Birdsall was a dream! She’s not only a great actress but she’s such a doll! We had so many laughs playing off of each other as this new romance develops. It’s a classic Rom-com with so many twists!”

Birdsall’s performance makes you believe that Jenna truly is a dream come true girlfriend.  She does an outstanding job playing the role of an intelligent, successful, and caring woman with a great sense of humor and all those great qualities of Jenna are accentuated by Birdsall’s beauty.  “Bringing Jenna to life was such a refreshing experience!” tells Birdsall.  “Although the title and the inference about her looks makes for good humor and appeal – it really has very little to do with what the movie is about! The dialogue and the jokes, yes, but the movie is more about her relationship with Jonathan, and the various twists  and turns they have to endure to rise above – both in the world around them and somewhat within themselves. It’s a beautiful love story with a little fire right under the surface – as Jenna is an attorney – and Jonathan calls upon her to represent him in a radically preposterous lawsuit involving a family member… The farcical nature of the comedy with its twists and turns really take the characters on a roller-coaster of a journey through the various extremes of human nature.”

Every aspect of the film makes it come out as a high quality film including the acting, directing, camera, music, and editing.  When Baldinger decided to make WHO’S JENNA…? his main goal was to purely entertain people and he did accomplish that.   Currently the film is in talks with distributors and should be released in the near future.  The final thought from Baldinger is that the title of the film is WHO’S JENNA…? for a reason……the “…?” is because there is more to the film then JENNA CASEY resembling an adult film star……The film is really about not judging others and that we are all equal.

WHO’S JENNA…? Review

Jonathan and Andy have been friends for life, in fact they have the same birthday as we learn in the opening scene set in 1975.   Both Jonathan and Andy’s parents are heading to the hospital in a panic with both mothers in labor.  There’s a lot of stereotypical Jersey dialogue and actions as they head to the hospital and during the delivery.   There’s nothing like the good ole days of the dads smoking and drinking in the waiting room.  Jonathan’s father Jerry is played by Jeremy Gilbert and his scene sets the comedic tone of the film.

Fast forwarding to present day, Jonathan and Andy are in a bar and engaged in a typical guy conversation about girls and life.  When Jenna walks into the bar her beautiful smile and alluring looks drops jaws.  Jonathan and Jenna hit it off and immediately start dating.  The two are falling for each other fast, despite Andy trying to convince Jonathan that Jenna is a famous porn star.  Fortunately Jonathan is able to look beyond the allegation and focus solely on Jenna.

While on a date learning about each other, one thing Jonathan learns is that Jenna’s brother in law Joe Barcia (Garry Pastore) is Jonathan’s boss.   This makes things a little awkward considering Jonathan is aiming for a promotion.  Joe respects Jonathan and starts trusting him with some internal insights and gives Jonathan some dirty work to do which includes closing accounts and firing a friend.   The one main account to close is male porn star Kevin Steele (Michael Tota).

With Jonathan in a difficult situation his emotions get to him and he unintentionally ends up saying and doing things he regrets and he ends up hurting Jenna and Andy.   Jonathan needs to makes things right with Jenna and at the same time bring down his boss, which is a challenge because he needs Jenna’s help.  Meanwhile he needs to mends ties with Andy and figure out how to avoid firing his close friend Scott (Edwin Guerrero) who happens to be a gay black man.    

Jonathan is at wits end and painfully shares with Scott that he’s supposed to fire him.  Scott’s an understanding man and he wants to put Jonathan at ease, so Scott takes him to a drag show to clear his mind.  Scott knows a dirty little secret which provides a twist in the story that may work to Jonathan’s advantage.   Jonathan is able to conjure up a master plan, but will his plan work and most importantly, will Jenna finally let him see her tattoo?  Lastly, at some point in most films the title of the film will be said by a character.  If you want to hear the WHO’S JENNA…? title, you need to watch the credits throughout for a special guest appearance.