In the midst of multitudes of hysterical people – some states with more, some states with less – comes a holiday movie that creates just a bit more hysteria. This hysteria, though, is through the pen and lens of a versatile, if not highly-talented, thespian turned writer/director—in the form of the very welcomed comedic feature film Friendsgiving. Due to be released on October 23, Friendsgiving is a holiday flick starring some Hollywood favorite ladies including Malin Akerman, Jane Seymour, and Kat Dennings; one of its producers is Ben Stiller. The mastermind (i.e., the aforementioned writer/director) of this frenetic, very funny upcoming cinematic offering is Nicol Paone, a born and bred Lyndhurst, New Jersey woman.

A 1989 graduate of the now-closed Queen of Peace High School in North Arlington, a small middle-class municipality just one locale south of her hometown, Paone actually is much more than a thespian turned writer/director. At Queen of Peace, she was a superstar athlete, serving as one of the Garden State’s best soccer and softball players. She also successfully played the latter sport all four of her collegiate years. And if that wasn’t enough, Paone earned her way to an alternate spot on the U.S. Olympic handball team.

After her university graduation, she quickly moved from the sports world to the film and television industry. Paone acted in sizable roles in multiple independent films, including Pride & Loyalty (a crime thriller that stars multiple Academy Award and Emmy winners and nominees) and Rules For Men (a wild comedy starring nearly every major player from “The Howard Stern Show” and other iconic comedians). Although Paone helped adapt Pride & Loyalty from its best-selling suspense novel to its screenplay, her career turned more in the direction of the other referenced film; meaning, she went more toward comedy.

The former standout athlete hustled her way to a network series regular role. For several seasons, Paone stood out as one of the primary actors on Logo’s “The Big Gay Sketch Show.” During that stint, a time period from 2006 – 2010, Paone also served as a producer for several of the show’s episodes. Her television work also includes appearances on varied series, including “Trophy Wife”, “30 Rock”, “Throwing Shade”, and “The Adventures of Delores Briggam.”

Turning back to film, Paone nabbed her biggest break in having one of her own screenplays – Friendsgiving – selected to be produced into a sizable Hollywood-style motion picture. If that wasn’t enough, she was afforded the opportunity to direct the movie and the star-studded cast assembled by its producers, who include Haroon Saleem and Nicholas Weinstock in addition to Stiller and actress Akerman.

The IMDB synopsis of the film provides:

“Molly and Abbey, along with their crew of close friends and acquaintances, host a dysfunctional, comical and chaotic Thanksgiving dinner.”

That summary, however, doesn’t adequately address the obvious hilarity of the movie, which can be notably seen in the movie’s trailer.

With crisp cinematography, quick-moving editing, all-around dynamic acting from some very funny people – not to mention witty, smart writing and edgy helming with the right comedic timing from Paone – Friendsgiving appears, from its trailer, to have all the stuffing and trimmings necessary for an outstanding holiday treat. This, surely, is something needed in today’s hysterical environment; it’s just a different, better kind of “hysterical.”

All said, the superstar athlete from Lyndhurst, NJ may now be becoming a superstar filmmaker in Los Angels, CA. At minimum, she’s done something that the vast majority of writers/directors/actors will never do: she’s made a fine movie with some great talent.

Daniel Sonninshine is an Empire State News staff writer, who is in search of greatness. A 20-something smart fellow, he is now lifting weights in an effort to obtain more power. If that doesn’t work, he will ask to write more editorials for Empire State News and less fact articles. He also dabbles in film reviews. Favorite flicks include The Godfather, Blazing Saddles, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, It’s a Wonderful Life, and The Passion of the Christ.