Thursday, February 20, 2003

Acting just excuse for Baio to eat in 'The Bread'


By Margaret A. McGurk
The Cincinnati Enquirer

In The Bread My Sweet, Scott Baio plays a man torn between corporate success and the joys of running an Italian neighborhood bakery while looking after his colorful immigrant landlords.

At 41, Baio is best known as a television actor (Happy Days, Charles in Charge, Diagnosis Murder), even though his career began on screen, as the 14-year-old star of Bugsy Malone.

He's made a dozen films, many of them independent features like The Bread My Sweet, which has become a long-running favorite in Pittsburgh, where it was filmed.

The movie is winning fans among Italian-Americans as well as food lovers. The story was inspired partly by the life of writer-director Melissa Martin and her husband Larry Lagatutta, who owns a bakery/deli that catered meals for the film crew.

Baio recently chatted with the Enquirer about making the movie, which opens Friday at The Mariemont.

Question: Was it the foodie aspect of the story that appealed to you?

Answer: I'm an Italian guy, and I like food. But I didn't really, quite honestly, see the food aspect of it until I saw the movie. ... Then I thought, this is a very food-oriented movie, isn't it? But when you're doing it, it's all fragmented.

Q: Did you learn how to do the baking for the movie?

A: Actually, I bake bread now, great bread from scratch. ... When I got in the kitchen with Larry, Melissa's husband, he said, `OK, we're going to bake biscotti.' I started flinging some dough around. The part that was hard for maybe a day was the actual cutting of all the stuff. There is a technique. I had to watch these guys, then after almost losing a finger or two I sort of got the hang of it.

Q: Did you walk around stuffed because there was so much to eat on the set?

A: What happens is, if you're around food enough, you start getting sort of sick of it. ... But the lunchtime was always fantastic. We shot this in the actual bakery, and Larry, he always when we had a break would say, `Kid, c'mon downstairs. I wanna give you something to eat.' ... So I got to eat quite a bit that way on the sly.

Q: In this movie, why is everybody always trying to feed everybody else?

A: That is part of the Italian culture. I can remember when I was in New York, you're at somebody's house, the first thing you walk in the door, they stuff something in your mouth. `You hungry now?' `No.' `Well, sit down and have something.'

Q: Do you have a specialty you make when you want to show off?

A: I make a pretty good bowl of pasta with eggplant, which is quite appetizing.

Q: Did you relate to anything in particular in this story?

A: This was probably one of the most enjoyable projects I've ever been on, for a lot of reasons. From day one, we were like - and you hear this a lot, and it always sounds like crap - but we were just like old friends. To work with Schuler (Hensley), who plays Pino the handicapped brother, he's a crazy man in a good way. ... From day one we were like 12-year-old kids in school. Did I relate to anything? I related to everything.


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