Part 1 Feature on TV Series Joey's Place Set in Philly

by TheSpot

Terry McFadden and Steve Sacavitch are two TV creators on a mission to bring Philly to life on the screen.  We sat down with Terry and Steve to find out more about their pilot, Joey’s Place, and themes of childhood trauma relevant to the show.  We also explore how Philadelphia serves as a major influence to their story and the answers just may surprise you. 

Terry and Steve met through mutual acting friends and formed a long-standing friendship.  Both are active in acting, writing, music, and from the Philly area.  They described their early days of their careers as pounding the pavements and knocking on doors in New York City.   More often than not, those doors shut on them.  Terry lived in Los Angeles for 25 years where he honed his talent as a writer.  Steve, a Philly resident, cites South Philly as his inspiration for all of his creative work.  

As Terry explains Steve brought him a script and rather than set out to film the entire 114 pages, Instead, they filmed 10 pages of what they call in the industry proof of concept.  It’s a Hollywood story in itself with a shoestring budget, shooting at the Palizzi Social Club in South Philadelphia, and had to be out before dinner time.  Terry recounts the pasta cooks bringing in their equipment as they were wrapping up.  Steve submitted the product on a whim.  To their pleasant surprise, the creative duo won five awards including Award of Excellence from One-Reeler Short Film Competition 2023.   

So, what inspired Terry and Steve to create a story about a local crime boss, Joey, who has to confront his “inner child”?  That inner child comes in the form of young actor Hudson Chance.   As Steve explains, real life experiences and the bar/restaurant where the show takes place, make it ideal to tell a story of various characters and personality conflicts.  Joey often experiences conflicting emotions because of his outward persona and shadow self.  Who was Joey as a boy?  What were his real dreams?  What are the circumstances in the human composition that leads Joey awry?  

Terry firmly asserts that the show doesn’t explicitly state the effects of trauma, but rather portrays them through the characters’’ actions and behavior.  He further adds that the other characters will also confront their inner demons.  For instance, Joey’s wife in the series grapples with an absentee mother, while Jett, a bar back and aspiring musician, will face challenges of an unsympathetic father who belittles him.

One surprising aspect of the show is that it does not include blood, violence, or swearing although they jokingly add there will be yelling and screaming.  Steve emphasizes that the restaurant itself is a character.  We get a glimpse of their lives through the “eyes” of the restaurant.  Moreover, Terry highlights shows like Cheers where the audience rarely saw characters’ lives outside of the bar.  Terry draws the comparison of how the audience will “see” their actions.  

What makes South Philly such a creative force of nature for Steve?  His response was comfort.  Intrigued, we inquired further.  He goes on to say that living in Philadelphia, especially in South Philadelphia, there is a strong sense of comfort and support that makes it difficult to venture far from home.  On the other hand, Terry had returned to the Lansdale area.  Taking note of upcoming areas like Fishtown, Terry saw first-hand a new level of vibrancy to the city.  Curious about their favorite local spots in town, we asked what would be their ideal choices for date night?  Terry and Steve’s answers surely reflected their influences.  Steve suggests Sinatra Night at Stogie Joe’s Tavern and or Le Virtú to impress.  Terry, being a musician, still enjoys live local music at wellestablished locales like the Khyber Pass.  And favorite historical spots?  The Rocky Statue.  

Regardless of the direction this artistic collaboration leads them, Philadelphia remains as the backdrop of the story.  Joey’s Place explores the city’s dynamic neighborhoods, diverse cultures, and fascinating real-life characters, elevating the art of storytelling.   The series embodies relatability, accountability, and stability.  It is a Philadelphia narrative crafted by talented individuals who possess an intimate understanding of both the city and its residents, and who are determined to do it their way.  Show your support for Joey’s Place by clicking here