The Emmy Award winning Sopranos wise guy Joe Pantoliano, aka Joey Pants, has long captured the collective imagination for talking tough on the big and small screens. But now JP has come forward from behind those many macho faces in movies like Risky Business, The Matrix, Hoods, Daredevil and Ready To Rumble, to talk to the nation about his decades long struggle with clinical depression.
The Hoboken born Pantoliano tells his own life story and those of many other survivors of what he means to destigmatize as ‘mental dis-ease,’ in his documentary directing debut, No Kidding, Me Too!, just out on DVD from New Video. And during National Mental Health Awareness Month in May, JP hopes to raise awareness about the discrimination and misinformation related to emotional breakdown, through his film and his website, NKM2.org, an organization he founded to reach out to those in mental distress out there.
Joe welcomes a wide range of sufferers in the film, of troubles ranging from schizophrenia and Downs Syndrome, to addictions, tic disorders, shoplifting, pyromania, post traumatic stress syndrome, gambling and bipolar and eating disorders. And he’s also formed a coalition with other celebrities to reach out to those in need of help, including Jeff Bridges, James Cameron, Robert Downey Jr., Matt Dillon, Robin Williams, Harrison Ford, Sam Jackson, and many others.
In NKM2, we come to know and share the pain of a young woman raped at the age of six, suicidal soldiers, and of course Joe himself. And a student who jumped nine flights out of his bedroom window and lived, though profoundly physically disabled., wanting to end it all because he felt he could never make his parents happy. But now coming forward to tell his story, to prevent other young people like himself from taking their lives.
The result is an inspiring vision of a society that ‘stomps the stigma, as those impacted by mental illness are surprised to find millions of others like themselves, saying, ‘No kidding, me too! An abbreviated version of the 76-minute DVD will air on WNET on May 24th at 10pm, and on PBS stations across the country soon thereafter. One hundred percent of net profits from DVD sales will be donated to NKM2.
NKM2 PSAs will also air on in-store radio and TV monitors in the A&P family of supermarkets throughout all 435 stores (A&P, Pathmark, The Food Emporium, SuperFresh, Food Basics and Waldbaum’s). In addition, The Food Emporium will run a two page layout in its Easy Solutions magazine distributed in its sixteen Manhattan stores.
Among those participating in the PSAs are Francis Fisher, Hector Elizondo, Lou Diamond Phillips, Corey Feldman, Tony Denison, Bonnie Hunt, Jason Ritter and Elizabeth Pena. Anthony Edwards will also be part of the initiative. The NKM2 Foundation advisory board includes many notable names such as Matt Dillon, Harrison Ford and The Sopranos cast members Edie Falco and Michael Imperioli.
Pantoliano and Rich Pepe, his childhood pal from Hoboken and now successful chef, have teamed up for a line of pasta sauce inspired by the recipes their grandparents brought with them from Italy. As with the DVD, 100% of net profits from Pepe And Pants pasta sauce sales will be donated to the NKM2 foundation. The sauce will be available at every Food Emporium store in Manhattan this month, and King’s and Balducci’s will begin selling it in April.
A kickoff party at the 59th Street Food Emporium slated to have a red carpet, celebs, the whole shebang, is in the works for May. Separately, a register fundraiser will be held throughout the month of May to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Month.
While ringing them up, cashiers will ask customers if they would like to donate one dollar to the NKM2 foundation. The NKM2 register fundraiser will run throughout all 435 stores in the A&P family of supermarkets (A&P, Pathmark, The Food Emporium, SuperFresh, Food Basics and Waldbaum’s) from Sunday, May 2, through Saturday May 22.
If you would like to contact NKM2 about anyone in emotional distress seeking help, you can visit their website, NKM2.org. Or write to: Info@Nokiddingmetoo.org.
3 1/2 stars