Comedy-drama TV show, Made in Rhode Island, debuts Feb. 22

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The red carpet will roll out at The Greenwich Odeum for the Up-Hill Productions premiere of “Made in Rhode Island.” The pilot episode of the drama-comedy will debut on Feb. 22 in the presence of the cast and crew. 

The show is based on Jo, played by Nicole Kemmet, a bisexual DJ in California who left her home state of Rhode Island before being drawn back into the country’s smallest state to face a life she tried to leave behind.

Ideas for the show came from Up-Hill Production’s co-Executive Producers David Weinberg and Carmino DeMaio writing down what they saw in a cigar bar. They kept track of their stories by writing them down on napkins. Weinberg kept those napkins each time they would write on new ones and one day brought them all to DeMaio. The two decided that they needed to do more than just keep the notes in their current state, but didn’t have much experience in writing for a TV screen.

“We both have regular careers,” DeMaio said.

Weinberg has a career in finance and DeMaio’s is in business. Neither had any background in writing, but DeMaio took those napkins and began to draft paragraphs. Weinberg and DeMaio then brought those ideas to writers and actors to seek their feedback.

At a graduation party, Weinberg met Koby Gartner, a University of Rhode Island graduate who studied film and communications. Weinberg brought him along to be a part of the project and the team began meeting at Brewed Awakenings to discuss improvements to the script.

Gartner became a producer for Up-Hill Productions, said that he has been a part of the process for two and a half years. During that time, he hired production assistants, helped cast the show, promoted it using social media and acted as the script supervisor for the pilot episode.

An East Greenwich native, Gartner said actors on the show are a mix of locals and out-of-staters found through the Screen Actors Guild. 

DeMaio added that Up-Hill Productions has reached out to TV streaming sites and heard back from a few about attending the premiere. He said that his company has enough ideas now for 10 episodes, which would be enough for the first season if the show is picked up. According to Gartner, the production company is open to all offers regarding the future of the show. He also said that “Made in Rhode Island” is a mix of a few well-known shows. 

“It’s a combination of ‘Shameless’ meets ‘Cheers’ and ‘The Sopranos,’” Gartner said.

Those shows bundled into one, DeMaio said, is a good reason why he thinks people will want to watch the show. Gartner added that the show’s entertainment and comedy values, along with the personalities of characters, are a part of what could drive viewers in.

DeMaio said the pilot runs about 48 minutes and general admission tickets to the screening are $25. Those tickets can be purchased ahead of the event on The Greenwich Odeum website. The $75 VIP tickets, Gartner said, have been sold out already, but General Admission tickets are still available.

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RI Schadenfreude

“It’s a combination of ‘Shameless’ meets ‘Cheers’ and ‘The Sopranos,’”...God forbid anyone in entertainment has an original idea.

RI's longest-running, least successful "comedy" is still the General Assembly proceedings on RI Public Access Television.

Friday, February 14