On the Road Again: Paulie Gee’s in Brooklyn

This is a guest post from Your Life Calling producer Kim Sedmak. 

Until recently, I’ve spent very little time in Brooklyn, New York. I’ve fantasized about taking the day off while I’m working in New York, hopping on the train and wandering the streets of all those historic and funky neighborhoods. But, my sense of responsibility harkens and our pressing deadlines always seem to take precedence. .

However, this time, I got lucky! Our March “Your Life Calling” segment for the TODAY show is centered in Greenpoint, the northern part of Brooklyn.

The story features Paul Giannone, once a computer geek who dreamed of going back to his hometown of Brooklyn and opening up a pizzeria. He named the place Paulie Gee’s and from online reviews, along with the people lined up around the block on a cold winter’s night waiting to be seated; it seems to be a hit! He refers to himself as a pizza enthusiast!

Paulie Gee’s might be a terrific place to share a pizza, but to shoot an interview for network morning television, NOT so good! The restaurant is long and narrow, has nearly no natural light and part of the restaurant’s ambience is very few light fixtures.

Our team once again descended and with portable pools of light we made it work for the b-roll shoot. But, unexpectedly, we had to position tall chairs for Jane and Paulie Gee to sit in that allowed us to see his fantastic Italian wood oven as part of Paulie’s shot. We learned this the day before the interview. So, off I go back into Manhattan with Ted Roth, our sound man at the wheel, a born and bred New Yorker! If anybody can handle the challenge of finding high-back chairs with me on a Sunday, it’s Ted. After stops at a Home Depot, Container Store, a mid-town modern furniture store we come upon Bed Bath and Beyond.

Finally, we find the perfect set of chairs on display but it takes forever to get them from their on-site warehouse to us. I discover I’ll need nearly a double wide cart to get them through the check-out line and the chairs will then need to be assembled. Only in New York would Bed Bath and Beyond have a doorman to assist customers but of course he was nowhere to be found.

When we finally get back to Paulie Gee’s, the rest of the crew eyes us suspiciously as though we’ve been off having fun and not really working. I know they’re only teasing but I’m well aware they’ve all had a very long day starting out at 5:30 a.m. from D.C. and they need food.

When it’s finally time for us to sit down and eat dinner, why go anywhere else. We tried many of Paulie Gee’s pizzas and my favorite was the Greenpointer! He has a rule: no pepperoni, no pineapple, and no potatoes on any of his pizzas.

Jane also liked his pizza so much she waited after the interview to have a special one made to take home to her family.

However, the biggest take-away from this segment is – Paulie Gee’s passion, creative due diligence and shoestring budget are the building blocks of making his dream come true. We think others will see themselves in this story and we’re hopeful his tale will inspire us all to put belief and commitment behind our ideas. His spirit of the “every man / woman” shines through to viewers looking for how to reinvent themselves later in life.

We’ve been trying to find stories of reinvention where the spirit of the “every man/woman” shines through for viewers. Do you know one in your community? Tell us in the comments!

Tune in Tuesday, March 13 between 8:30 – 9 a.m. to watch our segment, AARP’s “Your Life Calling TODAY” with Jane Pauley on NBC.