If any official I interact with on a regular basis could be a character in a movie, Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood is it. I just never imagined it would be a Woody Allen flick. Tarantino, maybe, but not Allen.
The brash, veteran lawman (profiled here) is already referred to by some as Dirty Harry or Yosemite Sam and the bizarre crimes that strike his suburban community are the stuff of reporters' dreams.
In a recent fiction article in the New Yorker, Woody Allen took one of the more memorable crimes in Upper Darby last year and imagined what it would be like if it was adapted for the big screen.
The story, broken first right here on Daily Delco, is about Nikolas Galiatsatos, 47, owner of Nina's Bella Pizzeria in Upper Darby. One fine day last February, Galiatsatos went around trying to sabotage his competitors by hiding live mice in their pizza shops.
Allen's fiction piece in the New Yorker imagines that a producer, Nestor Grossnose, read about what Chitwood dubbed "the great pizza wars of mice and men," in a magazine called The Week. Sure enough, a quick search of The Week's archives finds they did do a piece on the caper that credits local new agencies (including yours truly) and mentions Chitwood by name.
Alas, the Allen story does not refer to Chitwood by name, though it does refer to Upper Darby and "the Police Superintendent." Both, however, are overshadowed by the producer's idea of creating a movie based around a gang of mice who hold up banks and steal artwork.
The movie has two possible endings: In the first, the mice are read Kierkegaard and a choose to follow God. In the second, they become a group of touring ice skaters known as the "MiceCapades" who end their act by "banging mini-tambourines and singing 'Waiting for the Robert E. Lee.'"
Tarantino's ending wouldn't have been so nice.
In reality, the story ended when Galiatsatos, the pizzeria owner, pleaded guilty in November to two counts of criminal mischief and one count of animal cruelty. He was sentenced to five weekends in jail.
"He's also to write a book on how to raise mice that cook pizza so he can take over the entire business in Upper Darby," said Chitwood, with tongue firmly planted in cheek.
As for Chitwood, he's not surprised that a Hollywood bigwig like Woody Allen found inspiration for a story in Upper Darby.
"Upper Darby is a collection of short stories at all times," Chitwood said.