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Last Saturday began with the same rituals as every other weekend. I was up early, attended and watched one of my son’s soccer games and coached my other son and his team. My voice was raw from the constant yelling of instruction and encouragement. My legs were a bit sore from the awkward jumping around that an all-out winning driven coach of my age does during a serious ballgame. But needless to say, the day had just begun. I had so much more scheduled, little time to think about it and nothing left to call “routine.
Once the games were over, I quickly gathered my children. They were hot and sweaty, but yet still desirable children. As their mother I wanted them to show the same level of energy and get in the “hurry” mode. We then left the soccer fields and immediately traveled a short distance to attend a church barbeque. We ate quickly, but still slow enough to engage in small talk. My day was already fading.
I took a quick peek and realized that the time was now a little after one in the afternoon. My next scheduled appointment was at 1:30 p.m.
With no time to change, I met Suzanne Welsh and Dorothy Norman at the Ava Drug. We had made arrangements earlier in the week to meet here for a nice drive to Peter and Kelly Giuliano’s farm off of Y Highway. They were expecting us.
For those of you who don’t know Peter, let me just say, he has an impressive resume, but more impressive is his character. To me, he needs no introduction.
Shortly after arriving, the three of us loaded ourselves into Suzanne’s truck for the short jaunt out of town.
By mid-afternoon the weather was gorgeous, a beautiful backdrop. The sun’s rays warmed our bodies so gently that it left no desire to burn. The fall foliage swayed in the wind almost to say hello with its waving motion. The dirt road had been freshly graded. The pickup maneuvered over the scattered rock, not with force, but almost with the rhythm of a classical song.
Suzanne pointed out the beginning of the Giuliano’s farm. It was spread across both sides of the creek. We turned slightly to the right and traveled just a little ways when we reached their driveway.
This was the first time that reality hit, I was about to interview Peter Giuliano, a man whose name I had read many times across the television screen, producer of one of my favorite television shows, Law and Order and worked on such iconic movies as Ghostbusters and Sleepers. Oh my goodness, I was a bit underdressed as I sported my black yoga pants, blue soccer shirt with the bright, white word COACH across my back and running shoes. I hoped they wouldn’t notice.
Their farm covered a large area. It seemed cozy, covered in trees, and was absolutely the perfect setting for the log cabin that lay just to the right. Their house wasn’t the big mansion I had envisioned. It was a simple stucco cottage style home. It was so unique that it reminded me of the magical spirit captured inside of Snow White’s home featured in a Disney film.
In an instant, I forgot what I was wearing as we were welcomed not only by Peter and his wife, Kelly, but with their friendly, four-legged family of dogs. They all barked with a friendly salute. The outreach of hands exchanged greetings.
Peter with a smile as welcoming as a fresh cup of coffee in the early morning, led us to the front of the house. The walkway was landscaped with giant, flat rocks that offered the way to the three- tiered terraced decks. The view was more than I could take in! We sat nestled along side the bluff overlooking Beaver Creek. It was the closest I had ever come to a bird’s nest view of anything. Simply gorgeous! I could definitely see what drew these two to this location!
Peter at first seemed reserved. He quickly opened up and had his audience captivated by his Brooklyn accent.
Peter had me read a newspaper article about his past, a starting point and place in which to start asking questions.
We talked a lot about his career and those he got to meet. I couldn’t tell you anything new that you wouldn’t be able to find out about him, via the internet. However, what I did find interesting was more of who he is and not what he had accomplished.
This gentlemen gave up a whole Saturday afternoon just to explain the movie making procedures to a bunch of locals. That impressed me.
Peter did not boast as he gave us insight in how he got into the movie business. Part was sheer luck, the other was a lot of hard work. Peter as a young adult, was always taught to work hard. Something he cherishes and also contributes to his success.
One of his first working experience began in his Uncle Tony’s paint store. Everyone in his family got their start here and for less than minimum wage. Peter stated that this job was more about life lessons than anything. We were roaring with laughter as the story unfolded.
Every day Peter’s Uncle Tony would have him sweep the store front located on a busy Brooklyn street. The winds would often pick up causing a cloud of dust to settle in on the freshly swept walkway. Peter found this to be quite irritating. He hated doing the same duty and earning no results. He wondered why he had to keep doing the same thing over and over again. This is how Uncle Tony explained it… He asked Peter if he ate everyday only to have to go to the restroom. Of course Peter replied yes. Then Uncle Tony asked if he wiped every time he went to the restroom. Again the answer was yes. His Uncle Tony asked Peter this… Why do you wipe every time if you know that you are only going to have to do it again after you eat and go to restroom? Bless you, Uncle Tony. That one will stick with me as well.
Peter also remembered a time when a repeat customer by the name of Sal, but lets just call him the devil’s advocate for now, entered the store and offered him a job.
As the saying goes, it is often too good to be true and that is the moral here. The devil’s advocate offered Peter a job making two to three times more a week than he was at the paint store. Peter was enticed even though he knew nothing about security systems. He knew he was a quick learner and could catch on quick. When his Uncle arrived for the day Peter mentioned this to him. His uncle quickly slapped him across the face and asked him if he was a fool. Sal, I mean the devil’s advocate, wanted Peter to install security systems so that his theft ring would know the codes. Thank goodness Uncle Tony was looking out that day!
This is where hard work was instilled, in the paint store. Peter learned that even though sweeping the store front was monotonous it was often rewarding. On more than one occasion he would be stopped and asked about paint. Contacts were being made and people were noticing his attention to detail.
Most of you are probably wondering how Peter entered the movie sets of Hollywood. Well, as it reads in an article titled Hire Intelligence by Denis Hamil, it states that Peter owned a van in NYC, using it for various odd jobs. He used it to move people, pick up toilets and tubs off the sidewalks to sell to a resale dealer and delivering the Village Voice. A friend then got him a job on a commercial hauling film equipment. The rest is history!
What exactly does Peter do as a producer? He helps make a budget, chooses locations, blocks schedules and hires everyone involved in every aspect of movie making – from the stunts to special effects, video technicians, computer people and set construction.
Giuliano has been quoted as saying, “If I do my job well it should look like I’m doing very little on the set once the film is shooting.” He mentioned to us that it is a lot of hard work with little appreciation. Peter said, “If the movie is successful, everyone else takes the credit, but if something goes awry, I’m to blame.” This never bothered him. Peter is a patient man and it was evident throughout the interview.
Giuliano has been in this industry for a long time. He knows that it’s headed in a different direction. Even though it has been good to him and allowed him many opportunities, he is taking a little lighter pace and doing more with television than movies.
It was the movie set of Bugsy that Peter first met his wife, Kelly. She was a double major graduate from Fayetteville who was unable to find a job. Her long time friend opened up a talent agency in the Little Rock area. She asked Kelly if she would like a job. Kelly accepted and began work there. This opportunity allowed her to help in such films as Lonesome Dove and Bugsy.
A mutual friend of both Kelly and Peter approached Giuliano and asked him to hire Kelly. Peter was reluctant because he was already fully staffed. The friend then asked Warren Beatty what he thought. Of course since she was a woman the demand was for Peter to hire her.
It was made known that Peter made the first move, only to be cussed out by Kelly who was packing a pistol due to the volatile location of the movie and her placement next to the train tracks alone.
Kelly’s eyes danced when she talked. Her smile was brightly shining as she also gave insight into the movie business. With dog in lap, she gently caressed and carried on in conversation. Her laughter was contagious. We all saw the connection between her and Peter as they complimented each other.
New York to Hollywood and the deep woods of the Ozarks, Kelly and Peter have traveled side by side.
Kelly loves the Ozark air and their home reminds her a lot of where she grew up – Mountain Home, Arkansas.
During the holidays of 1993 Kelly and Peter traveled back to the Mountain Home area to visit family when the idea to purchase property was mentioned. As they stopped to eat, Peter picked up a real estate brochure and scanned it for property. He said he had the whole thing read by the time Kelly was finished eating. He quickly mentioned that she is a very slow eater. She just laughed at his remark, knowing full well it must be true. At that point, he picked out two pieces of property, one in Ava, the other in Mountain Home. Peter, Kelly and her parents traveled to Ava and met with Audrey Pierson, who showed them the piece of property. Peter was mesmerized at the amount of land. Remember Peter had never owned anything bigger than a city lot in Brooklyn, so this would prove to be an overwhelming amount. After seeing the view and the run down house Peter quickly yelled out, “We’ll take it.” Kelly wasn’t as easily convinced as they had just began searching for property. They kept in contact with the real estate company, but a deal had not officially been finalized.
January had rolled around and nothing had materialized. At this point, Kelly wasn’t willing to pay full price. They were living in California at the time when Peter had a premonition. Shortly after confessing his concern to Kelly he turned a truck bed into living quarters. The worst was about to happen, an earthquake occurred shutting down many of the interstates. The state was in mayhem. At that point, Peter turned to Kelly and said, “Do what you must, but buy the Ava property and don’t let them know we are homeless!”
The property was purchased in 1994 and many renovations have taken place to the home, but with delicate hands, not to take away from its character and charm.
Peter has learned a lot since moving to the Ozarks. He has experienced many hunting trips and has formed a loving bond with neighbors, David and Suzanne Welsh. David commented, “Peter is a father figure to me. You couldn’t ask for anyone better.”
Peter hasn’t given the “That’s a wrap” on his career but most certainly has settled down a bit and spends more time at his Ava residence.
His most recent work has been on the set of the Starz television series, “Boss” starring Kelsey Grammer, which begins its debut on October 21. He will also be speaking March 6, 2012 for the ASUMH Performing Arts Gaston Lecture Series at the Mountain Home, Arkansas campus. His wife is very instrumental and devoted to the performing arts council.
Thank you, Peter and Kelly for your hospitality and time. I appreciate that you enjoy the Ozarks just as much as I do and that you find Ava – A Place To Call Home!