Tuesday night’s TFF premiere of Finding Amanda was a feature directorial debut for Peter Tolan, a veteran film and television writer who’s written for Murphy Brown, Analyze This and Rescue Me.
Finding Amanda is about a sit-com writer with a gambling addiction who tries to redeem himself after his wife leaves him, by going to Vegas—a natural setting for gambling addicts to find themselves—and rescuing his niece who is prostituting herself for drugs.
“Some of those things did actually happen,” Mr. Tolan told The Observer. “I like to bet on horses just like the character; a family friend was in trouble in Las Vegas, and it came up that maybe I can go and help. And I thought, ‘Oh, great, I get to go to Vegas!’”
“So instead of thinking about this poor person, I thought about myself. And then I thought, that’s a movie,” the salt-and-pepper-haired director said.
We wondered how much exactly Mr. Tolan’s gambling addiction has cost him in real life. “I think in the movie I say that I lost $150,000 in a week, and I really did.” Yikes!
Mr. Tolan’s wife, Leslie, standing beside him chimed in, “I don’t think I was very happy; I believe I chased him down the driveway.”
The director chose Matthew Broderick to play his fictional self in the film—“Matthew’s name came up almost immediately.” But, Mr. Broderick doesn’t seem to share in his director’s vices. “This is Peter’s story, I don’t enjoy gambling. I don’t know how to do it,” Mr. Broderick told The Observer. “I don’t really have any real vices.”
Rescue Me’s Michael Lombardi, who does not appear in the film but came out to support the show’s director, told us that he’s gambled on occasion. “I’ve been to the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut—it’s in Connecticut, I know—but it’s actually not that bad,” he said. “I don’t love Vegas, because when you’re in the casino you just keep breathing in that perfumated air. It kind of has a depressive vibe.”
Dennis Leary, who plays the lead character on Rescue Me, also made an appearance. “I had to come out; I work with Peter and I owe him money.”