The Onassis Women

Interview With Nick Manousakis

Love and passion, wealth and power.  A recipe for a modern Greek tragedy, the life of Ari Onassis has been a fascinating topic for many including Nick Manousakis.  This was a story Nick had wanted to retell as a writer & producer in Hollywood since watching a biography on Ari Onassis’s life.  Little did he know, his opportunity to do so was just a few mouse clicks away.

It wasn’t until he sent out email invitations from his twitter account that he ended up reconnecting with an old friend of his, Christos Dervenis, the head of Parthenon Films.   After exchanging emails, the two friends who had not seen each other for many years, reconnected in LA.   During this meeting, Nick had mentioned his interest in Onassis and like a scene from a movie his friend presented him with the book The Onassis Women: An Eyewitness Account by Kiki Feroudi Moutsatsos.  Christos had just bought the rights to the book and he had in mind his friend Nick to pen the story into a screenplay.   

It was a serendipitous meeting of two friends and their passion to move forward together with the Onassis Women project.

Nick ManousakisOriginally from Australia, Nick Manousakis was a guitarist in a heavy metal band.   He wrote his own music and that led to a natural transition into writing for film and television.  During this time, he became frustrated with the lack of avenues to move forward with his music.  He then decided to move to Toronto, and eventually settled in L.A. in 2003 to push forward with his film and television endeavors.

I had the pleasure to speak to Nick Manousakis over the phone regarding his current projects and discuss his life in Hollywood as a writer/producer.

Biographies on many well known figures have been produced in Hollywood in the past.  What makes this particular project different?

I didn’t want to do it as a strict bio, you see the Ray Charles thing and Walk the Line and then the parody of all that…I didn’t want to do that kind of story.  It had to take place within his life within that moment, nothing on the other side.  This is him in his present time at the height of his wealth and success and power.

It’s about his family and his relationship with the members of his family and also the women seem very prominent in his life.  I mean the fact that he was married to Jackie Kennedy Onassis and that he still had a big love for Maria Callus who was a legendary figure in her own right.  That’s where my focus of the story would be.

The love triangle between Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Maria Callus with Ari Onassis?          

Yes, that’s where you are going to get the most out of it.  Of course there is also his relationship with his daughter and his ex-wife.  Also, he had a very tumultuous relationship with his son which ended up replicating a Greek tragedy.

Script Consultants TorontoWhat steps are you taking to adapt this book into a screenplay?  Besides the obvious of reading the actual book.

I’m going to meet with the author to talk to her more about the book.  I believe that there is a nice sort of underlay of incidents that happened that I really want to just spend time with her and find out all the nitty gritty of it - try to find out what this guy is about and also the women in his life.  Just kind of learn about him without a filter of an editor and publishing company and the rest of it.

It seems with The Onassis Women that you aren’t just only involved in the writing aspect of it, but the producing end as well.

Yes that’s correct. 

I feel like I have more control on knowing that this is a project that I’m doing with a very good friend of mine who brought this project to me in good faith.  I’m going to do the best I can with this project and see it come to fruition.  The initial genesis of bringing this together was from a good place.  We are going to be as honorable as we can with the story and get it out there.  Once the people see the take we are going to do on it.  I think it will be it will be a great drama and intrigue.  This is the guy who invited Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor to his yacht.  I mean Churchill was also a regular guest.

The author Kiki Feroudi Moutsatsos describes the book The Onassis Women: An Eyewitness Account as a gift to the Onassis family.   How do you think the family would perceive this story being told?

The book itself is actually very respectful.  I think she kept it as right as possible.  I think it’s quite the respect she showed the family.  She was given the opportunity based on the opportunity she was given and you know those things are once in a life time for anyone.  This is an important story on so many levels because I think the retelling of it well sort of give people a view into what this guy meant in the world of wealth but also how his own life was marred with a lot of tragedy  and controversy.

When is The Onassis Women set to release?

We would like to get it into the preproduction stage by 2011 and then go from there.

Are there any other projects you are working on currently?

I’m working on a thriller horror.  Something I wrote and I’m also producing.  It’s called Death by Design.  It takes place in a sweat shop fashion house.

Are you more interested in psychological thrillers genres?   Is there are a particular genre that you gravitate towards working on?

I think personally, I enjoy what the story might mean to me and whether that excites me.  If I see the potential the genre shouldn’t really matter so much especially if you are coming from a writing stand point.  I think if it speaks to you on an artistic level, it’s worth a start.

Any advice you want to give to the readers who might be interested in pursuing a career in the film and TV industry?

Believe in what you are doing.  If you’ve got a good idea you think you could do, just find the people that you could work with.  Basically get your project made however you can make it.

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About Sarah Yoo

Sarah Yoo A native of Calgary, Sarah decided to trek her way over to the glam and glitz of Toronto to study Fashion Communication at Ryerson University.  After studies in Fashion she wanted to learn more about what technology can do fused with art.  Therefore, she decided to attend Sheridan College where she graduated from the post grad program for Computer Animation.  

Following graduation, Sarah worked at Nelvana and is currently working at Pipeline Studios as a Texture Artist.  Her experiences include working on animated television shows such as Backyardigans, Grossology, Guess with Jess and Babar 3D.
Recently, Sarah has taken an interest in discovering the many facets that art and media has to offer.  She especially took great interest in filmmaking and enrolled in George Brown College for Continuing Education to complete her Independent Filmmaking Certificate. 

She has also been actively spending all her spare time to get industry experience and enjoying every minute of it.

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The Onassis Women