Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What's so funny about Anne Frank?

I am not quite sure exactly when my fascination with the short life of Anne Frank began.

I think it was in the 4th grade, when I watched the Melissa Gilbert TV version take on the story. (Melissa Gilbert was one of my childhood idols...I often wore my hair in two long braids. Just call me Half-Pint.) I also checked out the diary from the library that year as well, but I don't think I exactly read it cover-to-cover.

When I was in the 5th grade, my sister's 8th grade literature class textbook had the full original play in it. I used to sneak reads of it whenever she'd leave it in the kitchen. I pretty much knew that play by heart. (It also included an interview with Attic Savior, Miep Gies.)

As the years passed, I eventually would read the entire diary word-by-word, and would also read every piece of literature on Anne Frank that I could possibly find. (Working at Barnes and Noble definitely helped my quest in finding all things Secret Annexe-related. I would automatically staff-rec every Anne Frank book that was released. I think some people thought I was a little weird.)

This included biography on Anne's father, a fictional book called The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank (a "what-if" revolving around Anne's roommate and love interest Peter and imagining how things would have turned out for him had he survived...I believe he moved to upstate New York and went into Real Estate), ones written by Miep Gies and by Anne's childhood friend Hanneliese, and Anne Frank and Me, a teen fiction novel about a girl who passes out in the middle of an Anne Frank exhibit and wakes up in Nazi-occupied Europe, where she encounters Anne herself. I watched Disney Channel documentaries (one showed a video of Anne waving from a image that would haunt me for weeks) and saw several productions on stage (including last year...I saw a Dessert Theatre just didn't seem right...these people were up there pretending to be starving and fearing for their lives...while we got to eat cake.)

The more Anne Frank knowledge I aquired, the more I learned that those Melissa Gilbert and Millie Perkins film versions I knew and loved so well and the play in my sister's textbook were very much fictionalized.

In fact, they were downright WRONG.

If you're lucky, you will one day find a great friend that shares some of your odd quirks and interests. I found such a friend in Lori Mooney when we both reported for Teen People Magazine when we were 18.

Fast forward about four years later, and we were both unemployed and discouraged, sitting up on the 8th Floor lobby of the Marriot Marquis in Times Square and venting our frustrations.

Would we ever amount to anything? What would become of us?

Somehow, we started talking about Anne Frank.

(Honestly, I am really not sure WHY we started talking about Anne Frank. Perhaps it was in a, "Things could be a lot worse. We COULD be Anne Frank" kind of way.)

Our conversation turned over to the fact that Anne's older sister, Margot, ALSO kept a diary (Anne mentions this in her own diary.)

Margot's diary was never found, unlike Anne's, and while Anne went on to become the author of the second bestselling book of all time...after the Bible...Margot remained forgotten. (until now!)

Poor Margot.

Now, I have an older sister. We are three years apart (Anne and Margot were about four.) and very close, but I always thought we were as different as night and day. She always got stellar grades, I didn't, because my head was usually in the clouds. She was serious and responsible, I was always a bit goofy and flakey. She had pin-straight hair...I had a wild bunch of curls. There was never exactly any competition between us, because we were so different and never had the same ambitions or interests anyway.

However, if my sister and I were in a similar situation, in the same place and the same time and we were both recording our SAME EXACT EXPERIENCE and her account was published and adored for decades to come while mine was completely forgotten...

I would be pretty upset.

Poor Margot indeed.

Then, Lori, through laughter, said those immortal words:

"We should write a MUSICAL about MARGOT FRANK!"

We laughed.

We started joking about our musical...a chorus line of rats...a song called "I Saw Peter First..."

We never thought we would actually do it.

But somehow...

We did.

And now it's a finalist in the NJ Playwrights' Competition and we're getting a staged reading tomorrow night.

Now, this is a musical comedy.

What is so funny about Anne Frank, you ask?

Absolutely nothing. But our show is dispelling all the myths that we have grown-up knowing through those film and theatrical versions and that much-edited diary.

The show begins in a high school in modern day, USA. Teenager Min-Go Friedman, a Chinese girl who was adopted by a Jewish-American family, desperately wants to star in her school’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank.

However, since she is Asian, she is denied the role because she simply does not look Jewish. Her teacher explains (in a rousing opening number) that Anne Frank is the only important character in the show and the rest are merely a supporting cast. Min-Go questions this, and reminds her teacher and classmates that there were indeed seven other people hiding in that secret annex, and suggests that they be creative and put on a play told from the viewpoint of Anne’s sister, Margot. She is ignored and mocked.

After being hit in the head by a prop diary, Min-Go transports into the Secret Annex. She becomes Margot, and her classmates are now the fellow inhabitants of the attic.

Margot: Diary of the Other Young Girl raises some very important questions, while using humor to soften a very difficult topic. (And did we mention that there’s a tap-dancing duet with Jesus Christ and Margot Frank?)

I only ask that people give this show a chance before exclaiming that there is NOTHING funny or musical about a bunch of people hiding from the Nazis in an Amsterdam attic.

Perhaps after seeing our show, you will be inspired to read-up on the facts behind that bookcase door.

Consider the following...

-Dr. Pfeffer. He was renamed Mr. Dussel by Anne Frank in her diary. (Dussel means "idiot"!) Anne did not speak so well about Dr. Pfeffer in her diary, and he has been used as the "comic relief" in the play and film versions of the story. His wife, who was Christian and didn't have to go into hiding with Dr. Pfeffer, sued Mr. Frank and the writing team for tarnishing her husband's reputation. She died alone, surrounded by trash and a scrapbook of clippings about The Diary of Anne Frank.

-In the original play/movie version, Peter falls when trying to put out a light and thieves below hear the noise. At the end of the original play/movie, Miep announces that the thieves alerted the Nazis about the people in hiding. This seems to put all the blame on Peter. Peter never fell! It wasn't his fault! Fiction! Fiction! Fiction!

-In the same production, Peter's father, Mr. Van Pels (called Van Daan in the diary and fictionalized accounts), steals bread during the night. Mr. Van Pels never stole bread.

-If you read Anne's diary, she mentions a young secretary named Bep who brings food/information/good spirits daily to the Secret Annexe. Of course, she also talks about Miep, who also worked in the office. However, when this story went to Hollywood and Broadway, we never heard anything of Bep. I guess they just didn't want to bother with another character. When Bep WAS finally included in a movie version (the 2000 TV movie starring Ben Kingsly as Otto Frank), she was portrayed as a complete ditz. Miep has been knighted by Queen Elizabeth, and is often applauded for being such a great hero during this time, and rightfully so. However...I ask...where is Bep's applause?

-Anne Frank was a 13-year-old kid in an INCREDIBLY stressful, scary, sad situation. We are by NO means denying that. However, would you really want the world to know you as the way a kid in such a situation is portraying you? I also honestly feel that had Anne survived the war, she wouldn't have wanted her diary to be twisted around in such a way that it ruined reputations.

-Anne Frank had a great sense of humor, and I bet she would have loved our show. I bet she is up there right now, absolutely SICK of being canonized.

-This musical is not offensive. What IS offensive is the fact that we have been hearing lies about these poor people for the last sixty years.

-For all we know, Margot Frank's diary was positively BRILLIANT. She was, after all, known to be the "smarter" sister. Her diary could have been the most beautiful thing EVER written, and yet we'll never know...because it was never her little sister's was.

-11 million people died in the Holocaust. Why is Anne Frank the only one that everybody can name? Does ANYBODY really deserve to be forgotten?

We have some very important points to make...and if we have to use a little singing and a tapdancing Jesus Christ to prove them, so be it.

Diana Rissetto

Sunday, October 28, 2007


...that's us!

Please see it or ask questions about it before you judge.

It is really quite poignant and thought-provoking.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Young Peter is growing-up!

I am a very big fan of Peter Cincotti. I could listen to that voice all day.


He is wonderful...and I have no idea why Michael Buble is selling-out Radio City Music Hall while most people aren't familiar with the tremendous Peter Cincotti.


I have said it.

Michael Buble (and yes, I enjoy Mr. Buble very much) cannot hold a CANDLE to Peter Cincotti.

His new album was just released (I actually had to order the import because I just couldn't wait any longer...) and young Peter has grown-up quite a bit since his last one.

I have to admit, when I rave about Peter to others, I kind of take on the role of proud Great-Aunt. I have no idea why. We are the same age, but I always think of him as being very young. Maybe it is because, like myself, Peter seems to be from a different era. I have always felt that I would have fit in much better in 1941, and I often feel pretty young and old-fashioned compared to my peers. Peter and I both lost our dads when we were kids, and I know how much that messes one have to grow-up really fast, but at the same time, a part of you will always be that age when everything changed.

I read an interview with Peter once in which he said something along the lines of, "I should have been around in the 1940's...when people would wear nice hats to dinner."

That is absolutely something I would say.

Peter Cincotti is a kindred spirit.

This new album, East of Angel Town, seems to target those of Peter's own generation instead of his grandparents'. (And all of those eighty-year-olds in the form of twenty-somethings, like myself.)

At first, I was skeptical, because Peter's early stuff was perfect as it was...and why mess with perfection? However,I am already absolutely in love with this new album, even though some of the songs are a bit suggestive...

Such as "Always Watching You."

Peter is looking out the window at his attractive neighbor.

I gotta keep lookin' out
Through the window
Tryin' to read your mind
I'm looking at you lying down
On your pillow
Wishin' I was by your side
I'm tryin' so hard
But I can't keep my mind on anything I do
'Cause I'm always watching you

Okay, catchy tune, and when Peter played this at his concert in June, he was quite playful and sly. If it was some sleazy old man singing it, it would be pretty creepy, but a cute and charming 24-year-old boy (who likes to wear nice hats!) seems to be able to pull it off.

I have listened to "Man on a Mission" over and over already...I think this song is in the same vein as "Your Body is a Wonderland."

Ringing phone wakes you up
Pulling you away
I forgot the end of the world
Was scheduled for today
Tell them you got things to do
(And one of them is me)
tell them that you got the flu
Ah, tell them anything

(Makes me his girlfriend in this song a workaholic? Is that why he has taken to watching the girl in the window in the building across the street? Hmmm.) Also, he uses the word "kama sutral" in this song. Is that a word?

And then there is "Witch's Brew"...

Unplug the phone
And disconnect the cable
I want to make a movie
Like nobody's ever seen

The last track is called "Country Life." Now, I love New York City so, so incredibly much. I really can't imagine being away from it for too long.

However, there are days when everything just seems so crazy and crowded and hectic that I just want to get away. Peter has the same sentiments in this song:

Taxi Cabs and traffic jams
And subways underground
Don't you miss the days when all we'd hear
Were nature's quiet sounds?
I'm tired of just remembering
When there are memories left to make
Just you and me and a hundred miles
Of greenery and lake

That really just makes me want to pack up and move to the country and swing in a hammock.

(But I would probably get bored after a couple of days and miss the lights of Broadway...)

I truly think Peter is one of the most talented youngsters (there I go again!) out there and the fact that he's not selling-out stadiums after three albums just bewilders me!

(I also really want him to play Joe Cable in the Lincoln Center production of South Pacific next year. Can he act? I don't know. But I want to hear him sing "Younger than Springtime." And I bet he'd look really really really cute in a 1940's soldier uniform. Yeah...I guess that's an odd thing for a Great-Aunt to say.)

Diana Rissetto

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Attempting to be a writer...

I realized the other day that if I wanted to be a writer (as I always have), I really need know...


This blog doesn't count anymore.

I'm not getting any younger.

Life is passing me by.

I don't have an agent.

I haven't written a bestseller yet.

Nothing I have written has ever been produced on stage.

I am not making any money off of my writing, nor am I making much money from my dayjob, so I'll most likely never have any money. Ever. I would be okay with that, if I felt I was more actively pursuing my art.

I feel like it's all over before it even began.

I need to change things.


On the train home one night, I jotted down 20 possible taglines and figured as long as I had 20 pieces to work on, I could never have Writer's Block because something would always be popping into my head for at least ONE of them.

I don't think that is the best approach to take, as now I just have notes all over the place and am mixing up character's names and using the same funny lines over and over and everybody is starting to sound exactly the same. I am dizzy. And very, very tired. (Last night, I took four midol, which has as much caffeine as about 12 cups of coffee. I slept for five minutes. I could have used all of that insomnia to write all night, but I stared at the wall instead.)

A bunch of them illustrate that I am trying to "write what I know."

Things about stage actors...people who work in bookstores...death of a parent...a show about a professional wedding speechwriter (inspired with my speechwriting and delivering experiences with my sister's wedding last month.)

Some of the taglines were rather odd, and I wonder if I am losing my mind!

Such as:

"Shy young woman inherits magical yarnshop."

I don't even know how many yarnshops are still out there. Do people just go to AC Moore and big craft places for their yarn now? Have the small, quaint yarnshops of yesteryear been completely forgotten? I realized yarn is virtually impossible to find in New York City. I think city people are just too busy to craft most of the time. I have been big on yarn since I was about 8 and my aunt taught me how to crochet. My current office has a yarn club (who knew?). I guess this show can't really take place in New York City, since it's rather yarnless here, and I seem to place all of my fiction in my beloved city. (I consider myself much like Woody Allen in that respect!)

I am not sure WHERE this "shy young woman inherits magical yarnshop" storyline is going to go exactly. I was thinking about giving it a Midsummer Night's Dream feel, but with bewitched yarn instead of fairies.

(It could work...right? Shakespeare is retold all the time!)

We'll see.

I also started one about a young gay guy whose mother died of AIDS in the early 80's after she got a blood transfusion when she gave birth to him. His father has had issues accepting him, because he blames his wife's death on "people like his son" and actually ON his son. (Longtime Companion was on my brain.) Then, of course, a freespirited woman enters their lives. I was thinking that the guy had been quite young when the son was born, and the woman can be somewhere halfway between the dad and, son is 23, woman is 33, dad is 43. Of course, she'll become best friends with the son, fall in love with the father, the two will resolve their issues, and everybody will be very very happy. Then I started thinking it might be weird if she ends up with the dad, so maybe they'll all just become close and he'll end up with somebody else and she'll end up with somebody else.

(Think Debra Messing is available?)

And another about Frank Sinatra and how he touched the lives of three generations of an Italian-American family...(the target audience of that one might be pretty limited, though.) It begins that May day when Frank passed away and is told in flashbacks of the older two generations.

I feel overwelmed.

I want to get things DONE.

And when I do get them DONE, I have no idea what I am supposed to do with them!

If anybody would like to get me some kind of an agent right about now, I would really apprecaite that...

Diana Rissetto

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I love Thursdays.

Last year, my mom started watching one of the new series on ABC and asked me, "Diana, do you write the scripts for this show???" because the main character remidned her so much of me.

That character?

Betty Suarez.

I don't think my mother was hinting that she thought I was ugly, and after I watched an episode or two of Ugly Betty, I immediately saw our similarities. There are a few obvious ones...we both lost a parent when we were a kid, and have an older sister that people often describe as the "pretty" one. (I'm okay with that! Really! I would much rather be the quirky and weird sibling!) We are both quite clumsy and insecure and rather young and innocent for our age...we both have really crazy memories and have an endless supply of completely useless facts. Above all, I think Betty and I both, almost always, MEAN well, and try to do the right thing, even if the result ends up disasterous.

(Sidenote...a few years ago, I was at Seth's Chatterbox...that's the Inside the Actor's Studio of theatre people...and America Ferrera was sitting across from me. I whispered to my friend, "That's the girl who is going to be in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants !" My friend had NO idea who or what I was talking about. I was working in the children's department of Barnes and Noble at the time, and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants film was MAJOR news. I really regret that I didn't say anything to America that day, because I bet if we had, we would be very good friends by now.)

I had a particular Betty experience with my last job. For a full year, I was the little office slave. I did everything people asked of me, always had a smile on my face, and took every demeaning order with said smile on my face!

I started the job on my 24th birthday in 2006. One of my duties was planning office birthday celebrations for my coworkers. I always made sure I got JUST the right cake and card for everybody, even people I didn't know very well or didn't like very much. (Well, you can't love everybody, right?)

Just as my 25th birthday rolled around, I got laid-off.

I am pretty sure they timed it this way just so they wouldn't have to buy me a cake or a card. It was raining the day I lost my job (isn't it always?), and I had tickets to see Les Miserables that night. (That is a VERY bubbly show to go to when you're already depressed.) I wandered up 42nd Street, juggling all the junk from my desk, crying to myself and wondering what on earth would ever become of me.

What would Betty do, I asked myself.

Betty would keep her head-up and make that place ever regret letting her go. Somewhere out there, I told myself, was my Mode magazine and my Daniel Meade who would appreciate me while my last office failed to.

When I started interviewing again (love that whole interviewing and jobhunting process. Love it. Builds character.) I had an interview for a company that shared an office with a modeling agency. I was in the elevator with two models, both about a foot or so taller than me, and I stood between them, never feeling so Betty Suarez in my life.

Two weeks ago, Betty started taking a writing lesson. Now I feel even more a kinship with the fictional Queens girl.

I have realized that I'll never be a 5'10 supermodel, will always be a bit of a spaz, and will probably never really grow the thick skin and the barracuda attitude that seems to be needed to succeed in this city.

However, just like Betty, I am learning to be okay with that.

Diana Rissetto

Sunday, October 21, 2007

And we'll go down to the post-mortem bar...

I recently just watched a movie that I hadn't seen in a while, and was instantly reminded why I had placed it on my list of "all-time favorite movies" a few years ago.

(That list includes such feel-good classics as It's a Wonderful Life, and chick flicks like Never Been Kissed and lots and lots of movie musicals. For a depressing movie to end up on that list, it would have to be something very, very special. (The Pianist is one of the other few downers on the list, but that one had Adrien Brody.) Darby O'Gill and the Little People rates pretty high too. Leprechauns and a very young Sean Connery singing in a forrest! )

The movie?

Longtime Companion.

This movie opens with Blondie's "The Tide is High" playing, and that is one of those songs that once it is stuck in your head, it is stuck in your head for the rest of the week and really, really annoys you and the people around you that are also now singing it to themselves because YOU were singing it to yourself. (At least, that's how I feel about it. It is in my head right now.)

The tide is high but I'm holding on
I'm gonna be your number one
I'm not the kind of girl
Who gives up just like that
Oh, no

Longtime Companion is about nine young gay men (four couples and one single guy) and the onset of the AIDS epidemic. The movie begins in July of 1981, when the guys are having the time of their lives partying on Fire Island. They hardly pay attention to the New York Times article about the mysterious new disease striking only gay men.

The film follows these men for the next nine years, only showing one day out of each year. (A brilliant storytelling move.) As the film moves on, many of the men become infected with AIDS and die.

It is both fascinating and horrifying watching the decade through the eyes of this circle of friends. With strength, and laughter, and, of course, with each other, they face this disease.

By the end of the movie, two of the remaining guys, the couple Fuzzy and Willie, and their female best friend, Lisa, wistfully walk along the beach and wonder if this nightmare will ever end. In a brief daydream sequence, their friends (and many others) run out onto the beach to greet them and embrace as the song "Post-Mortem Bar" plays. The lyrics are achingly appropriate for this film, even if this song doesn't follow you around all day like "The Tide is High." (And I believe that is a good thing!)

And we'll go down to the post-mortem bar
And catch up on the years that have passed between us
And we'll tell our stories
Do you remember when the world was just like a carnival opening up

I never thought that I would ever see the day
And I don't wanna believe it's true
You were supposed to always be there
And a part of me has died with you

Bruce Davidson was the only actor from this cast nominated for an Oscar, although I think the entire ensemble is absolutely wonderful. I think Campbell Scott is a tremendous actor, and I honestly would not expect anything less from the child of George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst. (I really, really like the way he talks. I have never bought an audiobook in my life, but if Campbell Scott was doing the reading, I think I would consider it.)

Dermot Mulrouney has one of the smaller parts in the film, since his character, John, is the first to pass away, in 1982. I really wonder why he hasn't been taken more seriously as an actor over the years...he really was quite wonderful as John. John Dossett and Brent Barrett, two well-known actors in the Broadway community, are in this film as well.

The original New York Times article that the guys read from in the first sequence can be found here... It is really quite chilling to read it, and realize that nobody had any clue what was going on and how to stop it.

Of course, I can't watch this movie without thinking about how, had I been born twenty years earlier, my friends and I would have witnessed the onset of the AIDS crisis firsthand like the characters in the movie. Since our professional and social lives mostly revolve around the New York City theatre scene, the odds are, we would have watched many great friends, colleagues and favorite performers suffer from this disease. I can't help but put myself in the position of Mary Louise Parker's character Lisa, and wonder what it could have felt like to be so helpless as you just sit there and watch your friends die one-by-one.

We are incredibly lucky that we never had to face what those did at the beginning of this crisis did, and that AIDS is no longer the certain death sentence that it once was. However, I think this movie is really important to watch so we DON'T forget what it was like before our time, and to also remember that there is still no cure for this horrible disease.

At the same time, the world is never safe, and there is always another tragedy waiting around the corner. I remember when Hurricane Katrina hit two years ago, one of my friends was wondering out loud if "something like that" could ever happen here, to us. Probably not...but we have airplanes flying into buildings and killing people. Point is, we are never really safe and definitely not indestructable.

Excellent time it's on Bravo, give it a shot.

Diana Rissetto

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Did Carrie Bradshaw teach us NOTHING, people?

I recently ran into a former (male) coworker on my train ride home from work.

Somehow, as we made smalltalk, the topic of turning 30 came about.

(Five years away for me, six for him.)

All of a sudden, he said to me, "Don't worry, I'm sure you'll be married by then."

(We really should have stuck to discussing the weather and Britney Spears' custody battle.)

I would love to know exactly WHY he said that to me, what it had to do with turning 30, and why he assumes I am CONCERNED about not being married by the age of 30.

Somehow, I think that if I had said the same RANDOM thing to him, he would have thought I was incredibly strange for saying it...because women are SUPPOSED to obsess over snagging a husband and make it their entire purpose in, however, are not expected to lose sleep at night crying that they'll never have a wife.

It's pathetic.

Why are women still under this pressure that they MUST get married in 2007? Does anybody ever CONSIDER that it just may be possible to be happy as a single woman, and if love and marriage finds you...great! If are still happy enough with yourself to be alone? (And is anybody ever REALLY alone? There are a reason friends and relatives exist, you know.)

The other day, a (single, she doesn't even have a boyfriend) friend of mine posted a survey on MySpace. (I have no idea what anybody did before MySpace. Probably read a lot more!) One of the questions was: How old will you be in 3 years? Her answer: 28. UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Next question: Do you think you'll be married by then? Her answer: Yes, or at least, I really really really hope so.

Aren't you supposed to get married when you find somebody you WANT to marry, instead of because you're 28 and it's apparently the thing to do at that age?

For the record, if somebody was going to tell me I was getting married any time soon, I would actually be upset because I honestly do not WANT to be married right now, or in the near future. I remember my mother freaking out when I told her (several years ago, not last week or anything) that the idea of marriage scares me a lot more than having children...because you can MARRY the wrong person...but you can't HAVE the wrong baby!

When I was in college, we watched a movie called Raise the Red Lantern ( in my women's studies class. It's 1920's China. A man we only know as "The Master" has four wives. Each night, he decides which woman he wants to sleep with and announces his decision by "raising the red lantern" (get it?) over their quarters. The women line up nervously, and when the "winner" (loser!) is announced, she gloats...while the other women pout.

While many of my classmates thought the movie barbaric and unimaginable and hard to believe that something like this could EVER happen...I could only think of one thing.

The Bachelor.

Each episode of that show ends with the Bachelor giving roses to this week's "winners." The girls that he does not pick weep into the camera about how she just lost her soulmate. She really DID love this guy she had known for ten minutes.

It is the same exact thing as Raise the Red Lantern.

Women sacrificing their dignity, for the sake of a man. Women clawing each other's eyes out, for the sake of a man. Women willing to be on national television with racoon eyes, for the sake of a man. Women not caring if the man they "love" is also making out in jacuzzis with about ten other women.

Once again...pathetic. Personally, that show makes me embarassed for my gender. I think if I ever ended up on that show (yes, because I am EXACTLY the kind of girl they would cast, aren't I?), my family would deny that they even knew me.

I also had a friend wonder if she was single while her younger sister was in a serious relationship because she had curly hair and her sister, straight. I tried not to take that as an insult against my own curls, remembering all those, "Has anybody ever told you that you look like a much much shorter Minnie Driver?" comments I have gotten over the years, and just told her she was insane for thinking that way. Do boys ever stress over the texture of their hair and blame their single status on it?

I am guessing they don't. But, for some reason, women do.


New York City, 2007
China, 1922

Much more similar than one might think...

Diana Rissetto

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

There is nothing...

...that makes your day MORE than hearing somebody tell you, "You made my day."

On Sunday night, my friend Laura and I went to see a one-woman show, Rena Strober's Spaghetti and Matzoh Balls. (Laura had comps...which she got through her office, which USED to be my office too, until that day when they said, "We love you, you've been great, now...go pack up your stuff and never come back. You are being laid-off." But I won't talk about that now...we have discussed that unfortunate incident enough here.)

I grew up in a very very very (very) stereotypical Italian-American family. The majority of the men I knew growing-up were named Vinny or Joey or Anthony. In my family, if you grow past 5'4, you're right up there with Elle McPherson. (Seriously. 5'4 is TALL in our world.) When I was a child, I often woke up to the smell of gravy (yes, we call it GRAVY) drifting through our apartment...and we pretty much consider Frank Sinatra a member of the family.

In this show, Rena talked (and sang!) about her life, how she found herself sucked-into the Italian-American, New York City culture, and, of course, about the "Rao's incident."

(A recap... I absolutely when this happened, because it was, OF COURSE, discussed in detail at our 2003 very very very (very) stereotypical Italian-American Christmas Eve dinner. (That includes lots of fish, if you are not familiar with those traditional Italian-American Christmas Eve dinners.)

I truly enjoyed this show, as did my friend Laura. (Laura, who is from South Carolina and has converted to Judiasm since moving to New York City, especially liked hearing about Rena's experiences with synagogues in the south. Synagogues in the South. ...that would make an excellent title for SOMETHING.)

Now, my dog died last week, and since then, I find myself weeping over air freshener commercials. I burst into tears several times during this show, mainly during Rena's renditon of "Time to Say Goodbye" (made famous by Mr. Andrea Bocelli, of course)...because I was thinking about saying goodbye to my dog (I am aware that that makes absolutely no sense. No where in that song are West Highland White Terriers mentioned.) and, of course, with the last song, "Live on the Moon." (made famous by Sesame Street's Ernie, of course.) Muppet songs always make me cry. I think they have that impact on a lot of people.

When I got home, I decided to shoot Rena an email through her website to tell her how much I loved that show and felt like she was my friend when it was over. (There is also that immediate connection I feel with people who have hair as curly or curlier than mine!) I noticed on her website that her agent is located in the same building that I work in, and I let her know that if I ever see her in the elevator, I will make sure to introduce myself.

On Monday morning, I was sitting at my desk, stamping contracts, and who do I see outside my office but Rena Strober. "How odd!" I thought to myself. "I just saw her one-woman show last night!" She walked in, and I couldn't help but tell her, "I saw your show last night! I loved it"!

I was really just expecting a, "Thanks!" but then she told me that she had come-up to my office to say hi to me because my email had made her so happy!

Frequently, I am suddenly reminded why I love the New York City theatre community so much. It is such a small, supportive, wonderful group of people. It really made me happy that this young woman cared enough to get in the elevator and ride a few extra floors just to say hi to me!

I doubt this ever happens much in Hollywood!!!

Diana Rissetto

Monday, October 15, 2007

Okay, here are the rules, Lola Lu

I am not going to meet you for a few weeks, but I'd like to lay down some rules for you, just to get things straight.

You will never, ever, EVER live up to LuLu.


So don't even TRY.

You will never see me through childhood, as LuLu did.

You will never help me cope with my father's death, as LuLu did.

You will never curl-up next to me for a few minutes before I have to wake-up to go to middle school and high school.

You will never sit next to me, an ever-comforting presence, as I watch, shocked and heartbroken, coverage of 9/11

You will also never be there next to me on the couch as I cry over the memorials for Princess Diana and John F. Kennedy, Jr.

You will never run around the house in circles like a complete maniac. (Well, you probably will...but not the way that LuLu did it.)

You will never be my first pet. We will never have shared the very first ride home together, sitting in the backseat, like LuLu and I did.

You will forever be in LuLu's shadow.

And LuLu's shadow, despite her small stature, is very very big.

Maybe I WILL soften towards you if you ever learn how to roll-over the entire length of the living room the moment that you see a milkbone, the way that LuLu used to do.

I understand that it is, by no means, YOUR fault, little Lola Lu, that LuLu was almost 16-years-old and really HAD to go on to a better place.

I understand that it is, by no means, YOUR fault, little Lola Lu, that my mother decided to get another little white dog less than two days after MY little white dog left us.

I MIGHT be able to accept a new little white dog into my life...

You really are very cute and I'm sure you are a very nice little dog.

I just need some time.

Diana Rissetto

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Goodbye, my little buddy...

Old Skip was 11, and feeble with arthritis, but he never lost that old devilish look in his eye. He made my room his own. Came across an old photo of him not long ago. His little face, with the long snout sniffing at something in the air. His tail was straight out and pointing. Eyes were flashing in some momentary excitement. He always loved to be rubbed on the back of his neck. And when I did it, he'd yawn, and he'd stretch, reach out to me with his paws as if he was trying to embrace me. I recieved a trans-atlantic call one day. "Skip died", Daddy said. He and my mama wrapped him him my baseball jacket. They buried him out under the elm tree, they said. That wasn't totally true. For he really lay buried in my heart. My Dog Skip, Willie Morris

Last week, my mother told me that she was going to put my beloved 16-year-old Westie, LuLu, to sleep.

She didn't go through with it that day, but did yesterday. She packed up LuLu to bring her down to Florida for a couple of months last week.

I am hardly home anymore, and with LuLu needing extra attention in her golden years, we figured it was best if she went down south for the winter with the snowbirds.

My mom brought her to the vet, and was told she was full of cancer and there was nothing they could do for her.

My little white dog who was with me throughout every milestone since I was 10-years-old is really gone.

I am having random bursts of tears out of the blue since when that new dog food commercial with the little Westie came on after Dancing with the Stars last night...the dog jumps on the pink comforter and the commercial says something about how "we'll always be there for you when you wake-up." (I tried to laugh at the impeccably groomed pup on television, reminding myself that my little ragmuffin LuLu NEVER looked like the model Westies.)

I thought back to my many years of having my own pink comforter and a little Westie curl-up next to me in the morning.

Sometimes she'd actually run her paw through my hair to wake-me up. She'd drop bones on my pillow, and when I'd use my big satin blanket in the wintertime, she'd slip off of it. When I got a trundle bed when I was around 13, I realized she couldn't jump so high to get onto my new bed, but she'd still try. I'd usually have to lift her.

Whenever I was sick or just lazy, I'd rest on the couch in our living room with a certain blue blanket over me. LuLu would see that blanket and automatically take it as her cue to rest on my shoulder.

She hardly ever barked...we actually thought she was a mute dog when we first got her. I taught her how to rollover shortly after we got her...I was so proud of that. She would rollover the whole length of the house the second she saw a milkbone.

She even brought a freshly killed rabbit to our door horrified as we all were, she had been so proud.

She only ran away once, a few months after we got her. Other than that, she knew she belonged with us, ever since the day we got her...the day after Christmas, 1992...her owners could no longer take care of her, and placed an ad in the local paper. I remember how sad her original owner was, and that I felt bad feeling happy because I knew he really didn't want to give her away.

However, LuLu walked away with us that day and didn't even look back.

She was meant to be our dog.

When I was a teenager, my dad died of cancer. He was sick for over a year. He died at home, and I left the room right before he died. I couldn't handle sister mom could...but I couldn't.

I think that I have held onto a lot of guilt because I wasn't there when he died...I wasn't strong enough to be there like my mom and sister were. I can write-it off as, "I was just a kid...I handled it the best I could..." but I wish I had been strong enough to be there.

Yesterday, I couldn't be there when my mother took my dog to the vet and had her put to sleep. I didn't even know until after it had happened.

My dad has been gone eight years, and I still do not feel strong.

Part of me still feels like my dad is upset with me because I wasn't strong enough to be there when he died...even though I was a kid...and now I have the same feelings about LuLu...except I'm supposed to be an adult now.

Was she upset that I wasn't there? Is she angry at me? Does she understand that I couldn't be there? That I didn't know until after she was gone?

And part of me is just so grateful that I WASN'T there...that I didn't have to be there the moment my very faithful friend of fifteen years slipped from this earth.

There's a legend about the Rainbow Bridge... I always liked this story, and am trying to find comfort in it now.

According to this story, the animals on the Rainbow Bridge are very happy, but are hanging out until their "special person" from earth can join them, and then they go to Heaven together.

I remember when Dad was sick, and how LuLu never left his side.

And I don't know how the rules work when one of the dog's special people move on before the dog, but I know my dad and my dog are together now.

Goodbye, LuLu.

For the rest of my life, you will always be the greatest Christmas present I ever got.

And now, is it too late to say
How you made my life so different in your quiet way?
I can see the joy in simple things,
A sunlit sky and all the songs we used to sing.

I have walked and I have I prayed.
I could forgive and we could start again.
In the end,
You are my one true friend.

For all, all the times you closed your eyes,
Allowing me to stumble or to be surprised,
By life, with all its twists and turns.
I made mistakes, you always knew that I would learn.

And when I left, its you who stayed.
You always knew that Id come home again.
In the end,
You are my one true friend.

Though love may break, it never dies.
It changes shape, through changing eyes.
What I denied, I now can see.
You always were the light inside of me.

I know, I know, I know, I know it was you.

I have walked and I have I prayed.
I could forgive and we could start again.
In the end, you are my one true friend.

My one true friend.
I always, always knew,
I always knew that it was you,
My one true friend
-Bette Midler-

Now and Forever
You are a part of me
And the memory cuts like a knife
Didn't we find the ecstasy
Didn't we share the daylight
When you walked into my life
Now and forever I will remember
All the promises still unbroken
And think about all the words between us
The never needed to be spoken

We had a moment
Just one moment
That will last beyong a dream, beyond a lifetime
We are the lucky ones
Some people never get to do
All we got to do
Now and forever
I will always think of you

Didn't we come together
Didn't we live together
Didn't we cry together
Didn't we play together
Didn't we love together
And together we lit up the world

I miss the tears
I miss the laughter
I miss the day we met and all that followed after
Sometimes I wish I could always be with you
The way we used to do
Now and forever
I will always think of you
Now and forever
I will always be with you
-Carole King-

Some things are meant to be, the tide turning endlessly,
the way it takes hold of me, no matter what I do,
and some things will never die, the promise of who you are,
the memories when I am far from you.
All my life, I've lived for loving you; let me go now.

Little Women, the Musical

Diana Rissetto

Friday, October 5, 2007




Leave him alone.

I had a run-in with the law the other night...

There is a reason I have always had a reputation as a "good girl." When I was in the 8th grade, a gang of boys (one of which I really had a crush on, making it even more upsetting) would call me "Sister Diana." I never cursed. I was sweet and polite and old-fashioned. As we grew-up, I never experimented with drugs or alcohol. I taught Sunday school to 1st and 2nd graders on my weekends. A small gold cross forever dangled from around my neck. I was the typical nice, wholesome, girl-next-door. Sandra Dee. Charlotte York.

I pretty much stayed the same in college and after. (Except now, my crucifix is silver.)

The other night, I had a run-in with the law. Four cop cars, to be specific, and at least four cops. I am still a bit shakey, and never want to go through anything like that ever again.


I was driving home from the train station around 1:30 AM. I had a really long day...I commute to New York City from NJ for work, and I recently became involved with a production in Wayne, NJ. On Wednesday, I left my house before 7 AM, and wasn't on the train coming home until about midnight!

This makes a girl slightly tired.

When I am tired and it is late and the roads are empty, I drive slowly. Now, I already AM quite a slow driver, usually going about 5 miles below the limit. When there are no cars around me, however, I go quite slow, I enjoy not having to keep up with anybody else's speed...nobody to honk at me to go faster or to pressure me into making turns when I'm not comfortable.

After Wednesday night, I will never feel like this again.

I will become a speed demon.

I was driving along, minding my own business and listening to Michael Buble's latest CD (which I will never listen to AGAIN because it will make me relive this incident) and my mother called. My mother spends much of her time in her Florida home now, but when she's in NJ, she automatically goes back to overprotective "it is 1:30 AM and my child is not in her bed" mode. My cellphone rang, I slowed down, put on my light to find my phone, opened it, quickly said, "I'm almost home!" and threw my phone aside.

(I never talk on my cellphone when I am driving...just usually long enough to say that to my mother.)

I turned my light off and continued to drive.

Singing along with, "You're a shooting star/You're a getaway car/You're the line in the sand when I go to far/You're a swimming pool on an August day/and you're the perfect thing to say..."

A police car was behind me.

Figuring that police car was not meant for me, I kept driving.

The police car was still behind me.

I pulled aside to let the police car pass me.

The police car didn't pass me.

The police car stopped behind me and a policewoman got out.

I immediately got out my license and registration, told myself, "Diana, you did absolutely nothing wrong and cannot be in trouble for ANYTHING, so just calm down."

The policewoman came to my window.

Policewoman: Didn't you see me following you?

Me: Yes...but I honestly didn't think you were following me...I wasn't speeding or anything...or was I?

Policewoman: PUT YOUR HANDS ON YOUR STEERING WHEEL. You were going 30 miles an hour in a 40 mile an hour zone.

Me: ...Oh...

Policewoman: Why did you have your interior light on?

Me: Because my mom actually called me because she was nervous I wasn't home, and I just picked up my phone long enough to tell her I'd be right home. I never use my cellphone when I'm driving.

By now, three more cop cars had pulled up and were surrounding me.



There were two cops to my right and two to my left.

Four cops.


Policewoman: Have you ever been arrested?

Me: Me? Of course not...(thinking, "OH MY LORD THEY'RE GOING TO ARREST ME! AM I BEING FRAMED FOR SOMETHING?" I tried to remember if I had ever seen anything like this happen in a Lifetime movie and if so, how did Valerie Bertinelli or Patti Duke react when it did happen. However, I couldn't remember a similar scenario, except for that one with Cheryl Ladd when she got framed by the drug dealer and she had to go to the women's prison for years, and she became an advocate for prisons allowing the children of inmates to visit them more often. It was very touching.)

Policewoman: Why are you so nervous?

Me: Because I have never been surrounded by four cops at 2 AM when I wasn't doing anything wrong...

Policewoman: Do you have anything in your car that we should know about?

Me: ME?! Of course not...

Policewoman: Where were you coming from?

Me: Work. I commute into the city, and I'm doing a show that keeps me there late, so I wasn't on the train until about midnight.

Policewoman: Where do you work?

Me: (A whorehouse, I wanted to say) The Actors' Equity Association. It's the union for stage actors. I have a really long commute, and I need to be back on the train in about 5 hours...

Policewoman: I'll be right back.

Now, my mother was expecting me home, so I look at the policeofficers to my right and roll down my window and ask, "Can I please call my mother and let her know where I am before she worries?"

The guy told me that I could, and kept a flashlight in my face while I called my mom. (Not after he rolled his eyes and laughed to the cop next to him, "She's calling her MOM.")

(Another quick call. "Mom? I just got pulled over for going too slow...I think that's why anyway" and started to hang out right away, hearing my mom go, "ONLY YOU, DIANA! ONLY YOU!" It's something many people say to me on a daily basis.)

After I got off, I asked the police officer what was going on, and why this was taking so long.

Policeman: Because you broke the law.


Policeman: You were going 30 miles in a 40 mile zone and you ALMOST HIT A CURB.

(ALMOST is the key word. I DID NOT HIT THE CURB. Even if I HAD hit the curb, I wouldn't have hurt anybody or anything! People hit curbs ALL THE TIME. Since when is hitting a curb at 2 AM when there are no other cars around you a federal offense?)

Me: Ohhhhhhhhkay.

Policeman: Are you on any medication?

Me: Besides allergy medicines? No.

Policeman: Then why are you getting so nervous?


Finally, the policewoman who originally stopped me hands me my ticket.

An $85 ticket for careless driving.

Two points on my license.

For driving too slowly at 2 AM and almost hitting a curb.

Absolutely ridiculous.


Next time, go find a rapist or drug dealer and leave the young woman taking her time getting home late at night alone, 'kay?

I finally got home, didn't sleep for a SECOND and honestly threw up about three times, remembering how it felt to have those cops flashing lights in my face, asking me if I had ever been arrested, as I thought back to the past 25 years, when I have always tried my hardest to be the best person I could be. I never have been in any kind of trouble. I have never even been DRUNK!

My mother told me to look on the bright side, that it's very lucky that I didn't have anything illegal in my car.

(Thank GOODNESS I polished off all of that cocaine I had in my glove department the day before!!!!)

Diana Rissetto

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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Oh, Albert, we hardly knew 'ya

An entry from a few months ago about my favorite show, Dancing with the Stars. (to get you all in the Dancing with the Stars mood)

I don't really like reality TV, but there is one show which is TECHNICALLY a reality TV show that I just cannot get enough of.

Dancing with the Stars.

I really really love Dancing with the Stars.

I didn't really become a fan until last year, when I joined midseason and caught Joey Lawrence walking in a pumpkin patch with his wife and baby. Anything which featured Joey Lawrence pushing a baby carriage around a pumpkin patch is quality television! (Joey won me over once again on one of the last episodes, when he wore a 1940's sailor suit with his grandfather's name on the pocket and dedicated his swing dance to his grandparents. That Joey Lawrence is a class act.)

It wasn't until the next season, however, when I became completely entranced by the show...and there was one factor which helped this newfound obsession...

Three words...

Apolo Anton Ohno.

He was my favorite from the first episode...he'd wear amusing costumes, make funny faces at the camera, and his partner, Julianne Hough, was only 18 and the two of them together were just the cutest thing on earth. They clearly loved working and dancing with each other. When Apolo and Julianne took home the trophy, they held it in the air and Julianne cheered, "Happy Birthday!" (It was Apolo's 25th birthday. We are the same age!)

(There was a contest on NBC's Extra to win a date with the bachelor of your choice. Apolo was on the list...however, I'd never do something as silly as entering that contest...not me...nope nope nope.)

One of my other all-time favorite Dancing with the Stars moments was the finale of last seasons, when Jerry Springer was dancing with Emmet Smith's little daughter when they were all celebrating Emmet's victory. (Who knew Jerry Springer had such a lovely grandfatherly side! He's still not my favorite old man named Jerry, though...that title is reserved for Jerry Stiller, with the late great Jerry Orbach being a close second!)

One day, all my lifelong ambitions came to a halt when I realized what my one true goal in life was:

To do something that would get me just remotely famous enough so I could quality to be a star on Dancing with the Stars.

I accept that when this DOES happen, I will definitely not go in with the fame that Joey Fatone or Drew Lachey or Apolo Anton Ohno or Joe McIntyre did. I accept that I will be the token, random "Who the heck IS that girl and why is she on this show???" contestant. (Others who have worn this title: Willa Ford from the Emmet Smith year...although I DID clearly remember her "I Wanna Be Bad" song from years ago...and the Former Miss USA or Former Miss Teen USA or whoever she was from this past season's...I was quite sad to see her go though, because her partner was supercute and looked like a young Frank Sinatra.)

These token contestants usually get voted off very very early, since, sadly, no matter how talented they are, they aren't going in with much of a fan base.

I will be that token girl! See, the beauty of Dancing with the Stars is that even if you get voted off the first or second week, they keep your smiling face in the opening credits for the rest of the season AND you could even go on the tour if you want to. I can reap ALL the benefits of being on Dancing with the Stars, without the hardwork and criticism.

I've brainstormed various ways that I can become JUST famous enough to be on Dancing with the Stars . Get Famous Quick schemes. I don't want to be rich. I just want to be on Dancing with the Stars.

Some ideas...

-I can start dating Prince William. I think if I ever even just became FRIENDS with Prince William and we were photographed arm-in-arm at a party, people would start whispering about me and how intriguing it was that William was spotted with a Diana..
.who IS this American girl Diana?! What is her story!?

-From this blog. Not very likely...but people have gotten famous from their blogs before. (Example...Jen Lancaster!) I think I'm amusing! I'm unusual! If I was a contestant on The Bachelor, I think lots of everyday girls would be rooting for me and my oldfashioned quirkiness!

-I watched Joey Fatone's new gameshow The Singing Bee the other night. That show would be a lot of fun to be on. Even if you mess up, if you dance around and sing your little heart out, people will still clap for you and remember you. I can be a contestant on The Singing Bee and do something very very memorable. (Not sure what that is yet.) And then when Dancing with the Stars lists me as one of their celebrities, everybody will know me as "that kooky girl from The Singing Bee! Gosh, I just LOVED her!"

I am open to more suggestions.

Diana Rissetto

Once again, I find myself hooked on this show...and once again, I am rooting for people for reasons other than the fact that they can, you know, DANCE.

After the season premiere last week, I had already grown to love Albert Reed.

Before this show, I had no idea who Albert Reed WAS, and neither did a lot of people, making him that token "who the heck IS this (albeit cute) boy?" contestant that I spoke of earlier.

Albert Reed is apparently a male supermodel. (I really didn't KNOW there actually WERE male supermodels.)

Now, Albert Reed is on the drop-dead gorgeous side.

(He also doesn't seem to like to wear shirts much. Here is one of the rare occasions in which he was photographed fully covered...including one of him in a long knit-scarf playing with a dog. I love it when guys wear long knit-scarves! Every guy in my life has a long knit-scarf from me. However, I don't wear long knit-scarves myself. When I was in the second grade, my teacher...Sister Rita Marie...told me about Isadora Duncan and how a long knit-scarf was the cause of her death. I haven't worn one since, but I do make them for all my male relatives and friends. I guess I really don't care if they end up getting killed by them.)

Now, you can write Albert Reed off as a pretty boy who just stands there and is photographed as he broods or plays with dogs (while either shirtless or wearing a long knit-scarf).

However, even though I only had a few hours to get to know Albert Reed over the past two weeks, I learned that he is the best KIND of pretty boy...

An absolute goofball in the form of an Adonis. Tall, beautiful, David-like, but also incredibly dorky.

(In fact, perhaps I was drawn to Albert after the first week because he reminded somewhat me of my favorite tall, handsome wonderful friend and actor, Cheyenne Jackson...who is 6'3, crazy handsome and just plain crazy.) )

In the first episode, Anna, Albert's dancing partner talked about how at first glance, he's handsome and sexy (blah blah blah) but then he opens his mouth and he's just a big, goofy kid.

This past Monday night, we learned that Albert's grandfather was a ballroom dancer and had recently passed away. His grandmother called to tell Albert how proud she was of him.

Now, Albert Reed officially won me over with that (he might as well said that he spends his free time reading to old people in nursing homes or raising seeing eye dogs)and become my Apolo Anton Ohno and Joey Lawrence of this season, the one "star" that I grew to love as a person and wanted to see take home that trophy! (or at least make it to the last couple of episodes so I could see him every week!)

However, unlike Apolo Anthon Ohno (who won the entire competition last season) and Joey Lawrence (who came in third two seasons ago) Albert Reed was a goner after the second week.

Why, I wonder?

Because Albert Reed was pretty much a nobody. He really can't compete with the other stars...the ones who have legions of soap opera fans (Cameron Mathison)/young women who grew up watching 90210(Jennie Garth)/60-year-old women (Wayne Newton) voting for them. Also, Albert's partner wasn't one of the more "known" dancers. I bet had he been dancing with Edyta or Julianne or Cheryl, he would have stuck around for a bit longer.

(I would also like to be completely honest and admit that I did not vote last week or this week...not for Albert or anybody else. I figured he was safe. I mean, look at that face! Look at that footwork! LOOK AT THAT GRANDMA!!!!!!!!)

Maybe if I did, Albert still would have been in the competition.

We could have gotten to know him a little better every week.

Perhaps his beloved grandma would have come to a taping to watch him dance.

It could have been wonderful.

And it's all my fault...I should have dialed. I should have dialed six times each from my cellphone and the houseline and those around me's cellphones. (Yeah, I did that for Apolo. And Apolo won. That should have taught me something.)

I am not sure who will be my new favorite to root for every week...(perhaps Dr. Quinn)...but I do know that I will do my best to see the Dancing with the Stars tour next year.

And what will I be doing when I see it?

Cheering on Albert Reed!

(Perhaps he'll get a job in the NYC theatre community and he'll walk into my office one day. It seems like Chicago likes to cast Billy Flynn with former Dancing with the Stars contestants...maybe Albert Reed can play Billy Flynn! Can he sing or act? Not sure...but, heck, let's give the boy a chance!)

This boy is too wonderful to be confined in one-dimensional Abercrombie Finch ads! He has personality! He has spunk! And he can DANCE!

Good luck to you, Albert Reed. I will be rooting for you.

And I'll even make you a long-knit scarf if you want one.

Diana Rissetto