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Queens Chronicle

In Ozone Park pizza shop, a star is born

Actor, producer learned what it takes to make it in Tinseltown in hometown

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Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2011 12:00 pm

When Mike Dusi stepped onto the red carpet at this week’s Manhattan premiere of the movie he helped to produce, “All’s Faire in Love,” he knew what he had to thank for much of his success in Hollywood —a childhood spent behind the counter at his parents’ pizzeria in Ozone Park.

“I grew up behind the counter and always messed around with the customers, and they loved it,” said Dusi, 30, whose parents, Martha and Joe, owned Galleria Pizza before turning it over to another son, Tom, and his wife, Nikolina. “There’s no difference in film, it’s just a bigger platform to entertain people.”

Born and raised in Ozone Park, Dusi, who graduated from Christ the King High School in 2000 and now lives in Los Angeles, has worked as an actor and producer for a long list of movies since moving to the West Coast eight years ago. However, with the Manhattan premiere of “All’s Faire in Love,” which stars Christina Ricci and will open for general audiences on Friday, Dusi said he feels he has really made it in one of the hardest places to find success — Hollywood.

“Everything with ‘All’s Faire in Love’ is freaking beautiful,” said Dusi, who is an associate producer of the comedy about two medieval shows vying for supremacy in the world of Renaissance fairs. “It’s really successful —the costumes, the colors and the comedic aspects of the film are amazing.”

Dusi is currently working on a mockumentary about making a movie, “How Hard Can It Be,” which was shot in part in Ozone Park, including at Galleria Pizza. It is scheduled to be released this summer.

“In ‘How Hard Can It Be,’ I’m a pizza boy from Queens who goes off on a wild film-making adventure with a buddy from Canada,” Dusi said, laughing.

“It was a lot of fun bringing the team to my neighborhood,” he added. “Everyone said, ‘Your energy is exactly like your mother and father.’”

His family said they couldn’t be more happy for Mike, who decided to make a break for Tinseltown after studying at Nassau Community College.

“The whole family — his two brothers, his father, myself, we’re all so proud,” said his mother, Martha Dusi.

Jack Dusi, Mike’s other brother, has also dabbled in the film business, penning a number of screenplays.

It wasn’t just making customers laugh that prepared Mike Dusi for his life in show business — he discovered his long hours at Galleria and growing up in a large, tight-knit family made all the difference when he arrived in California with little but pocketfuls of ambition.

“I was used to working my tail off in the pizzeria, and you have to have high energy in film,” Dusi said.

“And being on a film set is like being in a family,” he added. “In Ozone Park, if you see somebody speeding in the neighborhood, the next time you see them, you say, ‘What’s wrong with you, stupid?’ People in L.A., they don’t have that sense of community that’s instilled in me. On a film set, you have to treat people like they’re family, like my parents treat the people coming into their pizza shop.”

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