EXCLUSIVE: Producer Al Uzielli has optioned Brian McDonald’s memoir Last Call at Elaine‘s which Stigmata and The Proposition screenwriter Rick Ramage will adapt for television.
McDonald was a bartender of 11 years at the former famed New York restaurant and had a prime first person POV of the establishment’s crossroads of show business personalities and notable literary figures which included Woody Allen, Kurt Vonnegut Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese, George Plimpton, Kirk Douglas, Michael Caine, Jackie Onassis, and Mick Jagger to name a few.
The project in particular is a personal one for Uzielli whose father was in the Manhattan restaurant business during the 1980s and a close associate of late restauranter Elaine Kaufman. Uzielli had many meals and celebrations at Elaine’s; its focus being an Italian menu. If you were a plebeian, it was a challenge to get a table at the venue. After Kaufman died in December 2010, Elaine’s shuttered in May 2011 largely because she was no longer holding court. Celebrities not only frequented there for the hip atmosphere and decent Bolognese, but also for Kaufman who was known for her quirky, opinionated, and tender-hearted personality.
The TV series will span from Elaine’s early 1960s origins to modern day, zeroing on its fixture in New York City nightlife; the project is billed as a Mad Men meets Cheers.
Uzielli is the great-great-grandson of Henry Ford and also heads up the company’s entertainment division based in Beverly Hills. He recently saved the former Rat Pack Beverly Hills hangout La Dolce Vita in Beverly Hills.
Ramage is the co-creator of UPN’s Haunted and the co-creator of USA’s Peacemakers series. He also wrote the Kenneth Branagh-Madeleine Stowe-William Hurt drama-romance The Proposition which Uzielli executive produced. Uzielli’s producing credits also include the movies Just for Kicks and Bongwater.
“A lot of these hot spot restaurants are gone, and this series is an attempt to keep that aura alive,” Uzielli told Deadline.
“The idea of going in and enjoying a restaurant for so much more than food, and making it an office and a living room, a place you don’t want to leave — those places don’t exist anymore.”