Aliens, Elvis and Spielberg: One Screenwriter’s Quest

Every day, unless it rains, Richard C. Burriesci walks the streets of Church Hill looking for Steven Spielberg.
Burriesci, 57, wears a pinstriped suit. He carries an attache case. Inside it is a copy of his screenplay, “Ontario Rose.”

It’s a touching story about an extraterrestrial boy raised by Navajo Indians and Canadian Mounties. It includes a scene in which Elvis Presley’s famous snarl is revealed to be caused by an alien woman’s tender kiss. It is, Burriesci believes, right up Spielberg’s alley. He just needs 53 seconds to prove it.

Burriesci and his then-girlfriend, Victoria Janyia Dillard, began writing “Ontario Rose” almost 10 years ago. “We ate, slept and dreamed about it all the time,” Dillard says. Once they completed the screenplay in 2004, they sent it to several Hollywood agents, directors and actors, who responded with the standard refusals. (Spielberg was the only one who didn’t write back.)

Who knows what could happen now? Dillard tells Burriesci: “Keep your suit on, keep your suit on.”
So he does. And he hopes. He hasn’t visited the sets at the State Capitol or Empire Theatre, where Spielberg was filming last week. “I don’t want to be intrusive or obnoxious,” he says.

Instead he’s relying on fate — and the sign in his East Clay Street front yard, which in graceful calligraphy says, “Welcome Steven Spielberg!”

If he gets to make his 53-second pitch, and if the director’s intrigued, Burriesci has prepared his next line: “Our golden script is ready for the silver screen.”

He’ll reach into his attache case and pull out a copy of “Ontario Rose.” He’ll hand it to Spielberg, and thank him. Then Burriesci will pull a cigar from his suit pocket and light it. He doesn’t smoke. But, he says, it would be a special occasion.

And if the director says no? That’s OK too. “If it’s not Steven Spielberg today, it might be Francis Ford Coppola two years from now.”


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