“Triple Fisher” in Westword

Triple Fisher melds three Amy Fisher made-for-TV movies into one epic melodrama

Twenty years ago, Long Island teenager Amy Fisher became famous for shooting Mary Jo Buttafuoco — wife of her much older lover, Joey Buttafuoco — in the face. She served time in prison for the crime and has since attempted several media-attracting life reinventions as an author, porn star, Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew actress/patient and general tabloid-seeking rabblerouser. Through all of that, filmmaker Dan Kapelovitz never let go of his own dream: to take three made-for-TV movies about Fisher’s sensational public introduction as the “Long Island Lolita” and make them into one triple-layer saga. Tomorrow night Kapelovitz’s fully realized vision, Triple Fisher, makes its Denver debut at the Sie FilmCenter, and the director will be on hand to introduce his masterpiece.

“It was kind of like with Avatar, where James Cameron had to wait for the technology to catch up — I had to wait for the editing to catch up to the concept,” says Kapelovitz, explaining why the film-triptych finally came to fruition more than two decades after the scandal.

In the fledgling internet, pre-YouTube days of the early ’90s, it was a struggle to even get copies of all three films, he says. Now that this kind of media is at anyone’s fingertips, Kapelovitz and editor Noel Lawrence have been able to make Triple Fisher come to life.

As for Amy Fisher as a main subject, the director says his interest in making the three-way film had little to do with the teenage star or even the story itself. “I had the idea pretty soon after they aired — which was in ’93. It was the first time in television history that every major network made a made-for-TV movie based on the same story,” says Kapelovitz.

The fact that three networks invested in the making of a movie so soon after the crime was intrinsic to Triple Fisher’s creative birth, and the director says the public outcry over the story was similar to that around the O.J. Simpson case — which would play out less than three years after the Fisher shooting. Kapelovitz’s 85-minute work stars two Hollywood darlings of the time — Drew Barrymore and Alyssa Milano — and the much lesser-known Noelle Parker as Amy Fisher. ButTriple Fisher’s real success is in its tone; there is something unmistakably similar about all made-for-TV movies, and this mash-up nails it. All three plot lines are driven by the same “true” story, but Triple Fisher highlights their differences. “Each (separate film) is from a different perspective: one is from Amy Fisher’s perspective, one is from the Buttafuocos’ perspective and one is trying to be objective, and it’s kind of from a journalist’s perspective,” says Kapelovitz. “I combine them to get the truth out of all of these perspectives.”

But that’s for the audience to decide. — Bree DaviesWestword