Anthony Dellaventura

Created by Richard Di Lello, Julian Neil and Bernard L. Nussbaumer

“I’m going to interview Danny (Aiello), and then me and Dellaventura are going to go beat up some punks.”
— David Letterman

“Sometimes things have a way of working themselves out. Sometimes they don’t. This time they did.”

“You want justice… or WHAT?”

ANTHONY DELLAVENTURA is a former member of the NYPD turned private eye (aren’t they all?), played by Danny Aiello in the 1997 CBS TV series, Dellaventura. The premise is that he’s rounded up a bunch of crackerjack crimefighters to rights wrongs that are beyond the reach of the criminal justice system.

So far, so good…

Unfortunately, the crackerjacks are all nuts and corn, with few prizes, and both the show and the lead came off as too smug and too pompous. The show’s a total vanity job, starring not only Aiello but his son, and various Aiellos show up all over the cast and crew. Imagine Robert McCall of The Equalizer with an industrial-strength ego, and a family of relatives on the payroll.

As for Dellaventura being hard-boiled? Meh. More like MTV-tough.

“I think it’s much more a feel-good urban fantasy” says executive producer Richard DiLello.

Uh-huh…

From the CBS Blurb

“Academy Award nominee Danny Aiello stars in his first television series as private investigator Anthony Dellaventura, a decorated veteran police detective who has built his business on the kinds of cases the NYPD can’t or won’t handle.

Helping people who have nowhere else to go, Dellaventura has recruited a team of skillful men and women who get things done the first time — either by force or by seduction. The team consists of Teddy Naples (Rick Aiello), an ex-cop who brings both brawn and brains to the job, Geri Zarias ( Anne Ramsay), a sexy New York newcomer with a take-no-prisoners attitude and a body that men can’t resist, and Jonas Deeds (Byron Keith Minns), a sharp-looking electronic surveillance ace with the power to infiltrate anywhere at anytime.

With strength tempered by compassion, Dellaventura stacks the deck for the little guy, whether or not they can pay, whether or not they remember to say thanks. For the first time in their lives, the people have found a hero – and his name is Dellaventura.”

Aiello on Dellaventura

“I’m an actor and I’ve never done those things…I want to knock people out who deserve to be knocked out. You know, the jerks in the movies who always say, ‘Go ahead, hit me. I’ll sue you.’ I don’t want to hit them, I want to punch them…Actually, we’re going to call the series “Touched By A Thug” (after the popular CBS series, “Touched By An Angel”). We’re going to do some lighter, human interest stories too.”
Danny Aiello at the Banff Television Festival

From TV Guide

“As the tough-talking, larger-than-life private eye, Aiello redefines the concept of swaggering, and that voice-over narration (‘Sometimes things have a way of working themselves out. Sometimes they don’t. This time they did.’) has to be heard to be believed. But the big problem — at least in the pilot — is that Dellaventura and his gang are so infallible and self-assured that the viewer never doubts that good will vanquish evil. There’s simply no suspense. Imagine The Equalizer without a single thrill.”

UNDER OATH

  • The Worst! It’s nice to know something came along to knock off Lorne Greene’s Griff (1973) as the lowest of the low. Danny Aiello trying to be Telly Savalas in the later Kojak episodes. You can’t parody a parody. Of course, there’s some stuff from the ’50s that’s probably worse, but will any of us ever see it?”
    — Ted Fitzgerald, in voting in the May 1998 P.I. Poll on the Worst TV Eye of All Time
  • “I admit I believed the show had a chance–before I watched it.”
    — Gerald So
  • “Even though Dellventura talks quietly, he’s also the kind of street guy who also talks tough… that’s the premise of the show. I think he’s also the kind of guy who doesn’t think before making promises too quickly. There’s… no sense of real danger or suspense when he charges in… He’s all brave braggadocio, but little more than that, and without a small gang of loyal assistants, I don’t think he’d get very far in the real world. The show is still mildly enjoyable, in a homespun sort of way, but overall, viewers seem to have agreed with me.”
    — Steve Lewis (June 2020, Mystery*File)

THE EVIDENCE

  • “Sometimes things have a way of working themselves out. Sometimes they don’t. This time they did.”
    — Dellavenura‘s gameplan for almost anything

TELEVISION

  • DELLAVENTURA
    (1997-98, CBS)
    13 60-minute episodes
    Writers: Richard Di Lello, Julian Neil, Bernard L. Nussbaumer
    Directors: Peter Levin, Danny Aiello III,
    Executive Story Consultant:
    Produced By: Rysher Entertainment
    Executive Producer: Danny Aiello, Richard DiLello
    Co-Executive Producer: Michael Dinner
    Theme song written and performed by Dion
    Starring Danny Aiello as Anthony Dellaventura
    Rick Aiello as Teddy Naples
    Byron Keith Minns as Jonas Deeds
    and Anne Ramsay as Geri Zarias
    Guest stars: Meg Gibson, Anthony Franciosa., Rudolph Guiliani (cameo)
    • “Above Reproach” (September 23, 1997)
    • -Pilot-untitled (September 30, 1997)
    • “Music of the Night” (October 7, 1997)
    • “Joe Fallon’s Daughter” (October 7, 1997)
    • “Clean Slate” (October 7, 1997)
    • “Fathers” (October 7, 1997)
    • “Hell’s Kitchen” (November 7, 1997)
    • “In Deadly Fashion” (December 2, 1997)
    • “With a Vengeance” (December 4, 1997)
    • “Dreamers” (December 11, 1997)
    • “The Biggest Miracle” (December 18, 1997)
    • “David and Goliath” (January 6, 1998)
    • “Made in America” (January 13, 1998)
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Gerald for rubbing it in…

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