Photo Feature: A Win Win for Carlisle
It’s been 60 years since the Carlisle Theatre has been the scene of a movie premiere. Back then the marquee flashed the title Jim Thorpe—All American. On March 4, the marquee featured another premiere of sorts. This time Win Win, a film with a strong Dickinson connection, lit up the town.
Thanks to Joe Tiboni ’88, who co-wrote the compelling film with director Tom McCarthy, the Carlisle Theatre offered a special screening two weeks before the movie’s general release. Tiboni, an elder-law attorney who still lives in his and McCarthy’s hometown of New Providence, N.J., spoke on campus before the evening showing of the movie, which stars Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Jeffrey Tambor and Burt Young. [Article continues below.]
In newly remodeled Althouse Hall, Tiboni talked with about 40 film-studies students and community members about his launch into screenwriting. Though he’d toiled for years, writing in his spare time, Tiboni got serious about three years ago, at the urging of McCarthy, who’s been his friend since grade school.
“I have a lot of interesting clients,” Tiboni told the audience in Althouse. “Tom encouraged me to write down these little stories, then I started writing scenes.” McCarthy suggested they write a story about wrestling, and the former high-school wrestling teammates spent two years trading scenes and building the script for the family-oriented comedy/drama.
“It was like golfing with Tiger Woods,” says Tiboni of McCarthy who had scored independent-movie hits with The Station Agent and The Visitor. “Writing with someone is great,” he added. “It’s like having a workout partner.”
That evening, 350 college and community members enjoyed the special, free screening of Win Win and asked Tiboni more questions afterward.
He discussed similarities between his own life and that of the main character, Mike Flaherty, played by Paul Giamatti. “There’s a tree we want to cut down, I plunge toilets, I had a green Subaru Outback. We were drawing on things I do everyday.” One exception, though, is the unscrupulous dealings Attorney Flaherty has with his elderly client.
The real Tiboni actually does appear in a fleeting scene in the movie—as principal of New Providence High School, which one astute audience member commented upon. Others questioned Tiboni about casting of the real-life high-school wrestler, Alex Shaffer, and Giamatti, who attended Yale with McCarthy, as well as details about character development and financing of the movie.
Tiboni’s co-writing role in the thus-far well-reviewed film is getting plenty of attention, with mentions on NPR’s All Things Considered on March 11 and write-ups in The Washington Post and New York Times. Tiboni is currently developing a romantic comedy script with his wife and law partner, Jane.
Text by Sherri Kimmel
Photos by Carl Socolow ’77 and Sherri Kimmel
Read the Dickinson Magazine story, "Going to the Mat."