22 December 2009

The Young Victoria

Last night I attended an advance screening of THE YOUNG VICTORIA (http://www.theyoungvictoriamovie.com/), and think it is an outstanding film (I did not want it to end).

THE YOUNG VICTORIA stars Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, and Miranda Richardson (the entire cast is superb). It opens in theatres on Christmas Day.

24 November 2009

Joy in Serving

It is in loving, not in being loved, the heart
is blessed; It is in giving, not in seeking gifts,
we find our quest; Whatever be your longing
or your need, that give; So shall your soul
be fed, and you indeed shall live.

Being a Key Club Advisor is an honor for me. Key Club is an international community service organization for high school students, http://slp.kiwanis.org/KeyClub/home.aspx, sponsored by Kiwanis International. On a regular basis I see young people volunteering to help others. These students are future leaders, dedicated to service projects and fundraising.

Sometimes we love and are not loved back. Sometimes we give and receive nothing in return. We serve because it warms our hearts and we feel joy. Joy in knowing we helped someone who needed assistance. Joy in seeing how happy it made the person we helped. It sincerely does feed our souls and we are full.

09 November 2009


In April I started watching the science fiction drama series Fringe (on FOX Television Network). At first I was confused because the stories are “out there,” and I had to learn the characters. However, I kept watching, hoping to gain an understanding of the concepts. I love being challenged!

Now I look forward to watching episodes every Thursday night, and even have a favorite character. I like Agent Phillip Broyles, because I see him as the most intriguing and complex character on the show. Also, Lance Reddick who plays Agent Broyles is an outstanding actor.

Thanks to writers of the episode “Earthling,” which aired last week, series spectators are able to see a brilliant example of how multidimensional a character Broyles is. In this story I carefully observed his significance, as he takes a huge risk by defying a superior, and viewers learn about his personal life, which brings versatility and a level of mastery to this series that I think was missing. Obviously there are other aspects to this episode, but I hope Agent Broyles continues to be more dominant in stories.

07 November 2009

Horror Webisodes

I enjoy watching programs on the Internet. Do you remember in an earlier post I mentioned watching the comedy series They Came From Outer Space on Hulu? Recently two horror shows have been brought to my attention: Fear Clinic (http://www.fearnet.com/shows/fear_clinic/index.html) and Roger Corman’s Splatter (http://splatter.netflix.com/).

Fear Clinic stars Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, Danielle Harris and Lisa Wilcox. People with phobias go to Dr. Andover (Englund) for help in curing the fears they have, but they end up getting more than they bargained for! It would be nice if this series could continue or be expanded into a feature film. I think it could work.

Splatter stars Tony Todd and Corey Feldman (sinister performance), and is directed by Joe Dante. Rock-and-roll star Jonny Splatter (Feldman) has fame and fortune. One day he decides to end it all, but his will has let him live on. Over the course of the night, the five people who come to his home to hear his last will and testament will be able to testify as to his cruelty. At the end of each show, viewers vote for who they think Jonny should torment (from beyond the grave) next.

These are fun webisodes. Keep in mind they are intended for mature audiences. If you know of other Web series’, not just horror, please let me know about them.

30 October 2009

Celebrating Halloween

Halloween–October 31, eve of All Saints’ Day (Christian); there are also roots in the Celtic tradition–is a very interesting day. Some call it a tradition, and others call it a holiday. This may just be a play on words; either way, Halloween is acknowledged every year in a big way.

As a child, I used to enjoy picking out or putting together a costume to wear and go trick-or-treating with my sister and friends. Also, during the month of October there was usually a fair in town with a haunted house included. Even though sometimes I was scared, I still felt excitement from the experience. Then there was the pumpkin exercise. I liked carving the jack-o-lantern and baking the seeds.

Now as an adult, I appreciate candy being on sale in October and greet the trick-or-treaters who stop by my home. I think this is harmless fun, and notice most people seem to embrace this tradition. Happy Halloween on October 31st and have a joyful All Saints’ Day on November 1st!

24 October 2009

The Note

The Note
There are some movies that one can watch several times and never grow tired of seeing. THE NOTE is one of those movies. The Hallmark Channel airs it often, and it is apparently the network’s highest rated movie to date. There is a very good reason for this.

THE NOTE stars Genie Francis (“Peyton Macgruder”) and Ted McGinley (“King”) as journalists, co-workers and friends. Viewers see they have romantic feelings for each other, but it takes them some time to admit it, as “Peyton” is a widow and “King” is a divorced man. Both have complex pasts that make it clear why caution is prevalent. Another distraction: “Peyton” discovers a note at the scene of a plane crash that provides a new direction for her column, which is needed because her editor is prepared to discontinue it.

“Peyton” believes the note was written by one of the plane’s passengers, so she seeks the intended receiver of the note. She uses her column to inform the public of this, receives responses, and follows up on them. Just when viewers of THE NOTE think “Peyton” will be able to bring light into someone’s life by giving him or her the note, details of her past are revealed, requiring her to face situations she has tried to forget.

It is interesting that when we choose to face situations head on, we are better able to comprehend and eventually overcome them. Ignoring these “problems” just leaves space for the unwanted memories to pop up again. It is important to resolve issues and move forward. This is what “Peyton” does, and her life then takes a positive turn, as does her column. Furthermore, her relationship with “King” blossoms, and she is accepted by someone she thought would dislike her.

The Note II: Taking a Chance on Love
This sequel can be watched over again and again as well. The touching story of “Peyton Macgruder” continues as viewers see her and “King” are advancing in their relationship and dealing with new conflicts involving their adult children (his son and her daughter). At the same time, “Peyton” also deals with a negative letter from one of her readers, “Eve Miller,” played by an outstanding actress named Kate Trotter.

In this story “Peyton” is slow in responding to “King” after he proposes marriage, and “Eve” challenges her. “Eve” somewhat positions herself as an expert on love so “Peyton” takes an interest in her. Through their discussions and a journalist’s curiosity, “Peyton” discovers fascinating information about “Eve.”

Without giving away too many details of this beautiful story, “Peyton” learns from “Eve” what can happen if one is not completely honest with herself. It is better to take a chance than to realize many years of joy have been squandered because of stubbornness.

28 September 2009

ShockerFest International Film Festival 2009

This is a photo of me with ShockerFest International Film Festival founders/directors, Louise Baker and George Baker. This dynamic duo, along with their distinguished judges, has yet again selected a group of entertaining horror, science fiction, and animation films from skillful filmmakers. Perhaps it is because the Bakers are also filmmakers (GREELEY’S FIELD http://www.greeleysfield.com/).

This weekend I enjoyed several of the films, but the comedy-horror feature SCARE ZONE, HURT starring Jackson Rathbone, CHILDHOOD FEARS (short), MANEATER starring Dean Cain, DARK ROOM THEATRE, and FIREMOUNT (short) stand out in my mind. Not surprising, three of these movies won awards.

SCARE ZONE (http://www.scarezonemovie.com/) is a fun movie! It starts out kind of silly, as it is a comedy-horror film, but then the horror elements “kick in” when the haunted maze (a.k.a. haunted house) opens for business, and the movie actually ends with a message stemming from a storyline with its goth character, “Claire,” played by the talented Arian Ash.

HURT (http://www.hurt-the-movie.com/) stars Jackson Rathbone as “Conrad.” “Conrad,” along with his mother and sister, must go to the desert to live with his uncle after his father dies. The family’s world becomes even more of a debacle when the mother decides to move a foster child into their home. I know this seems like ORPHAN, but I will admit I was on edge during some of the scenes, even though I saw where the story was going near the beginning of the film.

CHILDHOOD FEARS is a short film about something many of us may have feared growing up: “the closet monster.” The only difference here is this young man’s “monster” is an older cousin who terrorized him as a child. Director Cameron Roubique has promised a Web series based on childhood fears. Let me know if you find it.

MANEATER stars Dean Cain as a former FBI profiler who is now sheriff of a small town investigating inexplicable, gruesome murders that have been taking place. Also, he is raising his teenage daughter alone since his wife mysteriously disappeared, and that situation provides an intriguing storyline.

DARK ROOM THEATRE (http://www.darkroomtheater.com/) is a fun film. If you like The Twilight Zone television series, you will probably enjoy DARK ROOM THEATRE. The movie’s poster is accurate in stating, “2 tales of the macabre that will tickle your scary bone…” The acting is superb, especially in the first story, and the music is right on with the mood of the tales.

FIREMOUNT (http://www.firemountmovie.com/) is a short science fiction-fantasy film written and directed by Daniel Denegre, a film student who submitted this as his thesis. It is quite impressive, and many individuals at the ShockerFest International Film Festival seemed to agree that Denegre should make this a feature (I even told him to do it!). Fortunately, Denegre assures that is his intention, especially now that he won two awards at ShockerFest. FIREMOUNT is about a mysterious swordsman seeking a cure for a poison that is killing him. He discovers that the one with the answers is who he has been running from.

13 September 2009

Comrades in Dreams

The documentary, COMRADES IN DREAMS, follows four theatre owners from four different parts of the world: Korea, India, United States, and Faso. Each of them love movies and share that passion with their communities. The theatre owner in Korea is the only woman in her country to work in cinema and the theatre owner in India is only 25 years old, and actually runs a moving tent theatre, taking the movies to various villages. The theatre showcased in the United States is owned by a lady, who lives in a very small, rural town, and the theatre in Faso is operated by three friends who dedicate much of their time to maintaining it; in the movie, their families express how they wish the men would spend more time at home.

I recently watched COMRADES IN DREAMS on the Sundance Channel. It received a nomination for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. This documentary reminded me of how important it is that people, including me, make movies because every person revealed the impact films have had on their lives.

07 September 2009

They Came From Outer Space

I have been watching the series They Came From Outer Space on Hulu. The show originally aired on television from 1990 to 1991, and stars Stuart Fratkin (“Abe”) and Dean Cameron (“Bo”) as brothers who land on Earth from the planet Crouton to attend university in England. During their space ship ride to Earth, “Bo” discovers that California, U.S.A. would be more exciting than studying, so he changes their direction. The alien “fish-out-of-water” concept makes for some very hilarious situations, including the two Air Force officers trailing “Abe” and “Bo” in hopes of capturing them for dissection.

This show is fun, and displays a type of comedy that is no longer on television. Unfortunately, there are only 20 episodes; however, they are available for viewing at http://www.hulu.com/search?query=they+came+from+outer+space. After watching each episode, viewers are able to vote and comment. There is also a group for They Came From Outer Space on Facebook, where fans of the series can have discussions about the show.

Lastly, I will add that Stuart Fratkin is starring in my next feature film, AFRAID FOR YOUR LIFE. Right now we are in the development process. I will keep you updated here at the blog, and of course we are providing information at the TDA Entertainment Web site – http://www.tdaentertainment.com/ – as it is available.

08 August 2009

Shavar Ross Blog

I highly recommend this blog - http://shavarross.com/. Shavar Ross writes about a variety of topics such as health, religion, entertainment, and politics. His style is unique, and he often uses humor to provide, as he says, "infotainment from a celebrity's perspective." Shavar is an actor, director, writer, and photographer. A gallery of his photography is also featured at the blog.

03 August 2009

My Summer 2009 Vacation

Last week I went to Southern California. First, I spent three days in San Diego (the city where I was raised), and visited with family and friends. I had not seen the friends in over 20 years, so it was wonderful spending time together. During this time, Comic-Con was taking place. I did not attend, but saw crowds of people downtown who seemed very enthusiastic. Some were wearing Batman and Iron Man shirts and outfits.

Second, I went to Pasadena for the Action On Film International Film Festival (http://www.aoffest.com/). My screenplay, AFRAID FOR YOUR LIFE, received a Best Script nomination. I did not win, but it is always an honor being recognized for my work. I also watched some good independent movies. Two of them were ONE PERCENT FULL (http://onepercentfull.blogspot.com/), which is an action-drama with a message, and a comedy titled THE STEVIE WONDERSHOW (http://www.steviewondershow.com/).

While in Pasadena, I spent some time in South Pasadena checking out HALLOWEEN (1978) locations. It seemed like the logical thing to do! I went to the “Myers House,” which has been relocated, and is now an office building. Across the street from the “Myers House,” I saw the “hardware store,” which is actually a restaurant, where “Sheriff Brackett” and “Dr. Loomis” had a conversation. Next, I visited the “Strode House.” The people who live in this home graciously leave pumpkins on the porch so that fans of the film can pose with them for pictures, which is what I did. The final stop was “Haddonfield High School,” which is actually South Pasadena High School.

In addition, when in South Pasadena visit the Fair Oaks Pharmacy (http://www.fairoakspharmacy.net/). I had seen the soda fountain on the Travel Channel and wanted to check it out. It is located on historic Route 66, and truly does have the best ice cream, as highlighted on the Travel Channel.

Lastly, I spent some time in Los Angeles’ Chinatown and Hollywood. Chinatown was a fun place to shop. I went to Hollywood to find the Star of my cousin, film pioneer Oscar Micheaux (http://shorock.com/arts/micheaux/). It is located at the Hollywood and Highland intersection in front of a sushi restaurant.
Our vacation ended with a stop in Modesto (Central California) to see Carman (http://www.carman.org/). The concert was sold out and the audience was full of energy. Overall, I had an excellent time.

15 July 2009

Julie & Julia

Yesterday I saw the motion picture JULIE & JULIA, starring Meryl Streep as “Julia Child” and Amy Adams as “Julie Powell.” The movie was beautifully written and directed by Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail), and based on two true stories, My Life in France written by Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme and a memoir by Julie Powell. The two stories were uniquely woven together to emphasize their similarities.

“Julie Powell” (Adams) is a modern day woman living in Queens, New York with her husband “Eric Powell” (Chris Messina) and is “supposed to be a writer,” but instead works as a telephone operator at a crisis headquarters office. She loves to cook, and decides to start a blog documenting 524 of Julia Childs’ recipes in 365 days. Apparently, this is the first movie to focus on blogging. I am grateful for the salute, and had fun watching “Julie” prepare meals, with some slight mishaps, on her quest to be like Julia Child.

Meanwhile, viewers are taken to France 1949 to the 1950s to see how “Julia Child” (Streep) lives with her husband “Paul Child” (Stanley Tucci), takes/teaches cooking classes, and decides to write a cookbook. I appreciate seeing the famous chef’s humble outlook on her expertise. Meryl Streep truly takes on the persona of Julia Child. Her performance makes following the story even more enjoyable.

JULIE & JULIA will be in theatres August 7th. For more information visit the Web site http://www.julieandjulia.com/. Be sure to watch this movie with a full stomach. If not, all the food and scenes with characters eating will make you even more hungry than you probably already were before entering the theatre.

06 July 2009

Wheel of Knowing

Last night I attended the premiere of Wheel of Knowing in Sacramento, California. This faith-based feature film was originally a short film that won Access Sacramento’s Viewer’s Choice Award in 2007. The screening was presented before a fully-packed theatre audience.

Wheel of Knowing is a story about a woman named Melanie who is married and has two daughters. They are a Christian family whose lives seem very normal. Melanie is a housewife, her husband is a businessman, and the oldest daughter is pretty much a typical teenager with a boyfriend who likes to bend rules. For example, instead of going to a youth group event, he suggests hanging out some place else. At one point he gets caught drinking and driving, so his girlfriend is no longer allowed to be alone with him (according to the Christian school they attend). The experience serves as his turning point and he learns from it.

In the main plot Melanie’s mother passes away. Neither one of her brothers want to move their father into their homes, so she volunteers to take him without discussing it with her husband first. Nevertheless, having her father in their home truly turns their lives upside down. The reason is because Melanie’s father has Alzheimer’s and requires Melanie’s full attention. As a result, the particulars she has paid close attention to in the past are neglected. She receives an in-your-face acknowledgement of this from her teenage daughter.

Wheel of Knowing is a very good story that touches the heart. It is a comedy-drama with a message about the importance of faith and family. I also think it does a good job of educating about the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

25 June 2009

Teachers Are Role Models

I am a teacher and have absolutely no problem at all accepting the fact that I am a role model. I have worked with junior high, high school, and college students. While teaching high school students, I notice they are excited about life, but some are unenthusiastic about school. For teenagers, friends are essential. One has to talk a certain way, listen to the “right” music, and in some cases, be a rebel. Of course, not all students think this way, thank goodness; however, in general this is the case.

Listening to students, they are in school for one of two reasons: they want to be there or they have been told they better be there. Because of this, teachers have the golden opportunity that no other professionals have to shape the future. Modeling is something instructors from pre-school through university can do to give students a more positive outlook on life. English (writing and literature) is the subject matter I teach, but in the process I am teaching manners, consistency, integrity, and so many other qualities that I am not even aware are getting through to the students.

In short, I am establishing the importance and significance teachers have in students’ lives. Teachers are counselors and can even be friends. Students feel safe asking teachers about something they would like knowing more about, and trust the educator will have a helpful response. Some students can easily talk with a teacher when they are afraid to share their pain or concern with a parent or other adult.

In an episode of 21 Jump Street, (see previous post) a high school girl confided in a male teacher. She felt so safe and close to him that she was comfortable going to his home for help with homework. In a sense, she discovered a new friend and personal tutor.

Unfortunately, the teacher took advantage of the young girl and started having sexual relations with her. While watching this episode, I did not want to blame the girl. She was easily swayed by an adult, not just any adult, but a teacher. Someone she was probably taught to admire, trust, and respect.

The 21 Jump Street writers did not set the story up in the same way as I because when viewers are brought into this story, the young girl is already pregnant and absolutely terrified. The Jump Street police officers were not able to get the teen girl to open up. They persistently asked questions, investigated, and pleaded until they discovered other girls who had experienced the same abuse from the same teacher. The trusted adult, who chose to work with young people, deceived and disrespected them.

This story was difficult to watch because of the statutory rape and realism. The teenage girl’s fear kept her withdrawn and literally scared. She probably never trusted another teacher after that. Or sadly, she probably never trusted another human being again.

Teachers should use their position to educate, instill positive attitudes, and encourage students to be the best they can be. It is unfortunate when some teachers use their position to take advantage of young people who are forming opinions about life, trying to figure out who they are, and discovering what goals they want to accomplish. Teachers are role models. (Yesterday I shared that 21 Jump Street was an issue-oriented and ground-breaking television series. Today’s post is an example of those traits.)

24 June 2009

Remembering 21 Jump Street

The television series that made a big impact on me when I was a teenager was 21 Jump Street. I was a high school junior, and one Sunday evening at 7:00 I stumbled upon the show. I remember being immediately drawn into the story. “Officer Hanson” was working undercover as a preppy, rich teen so he could bust preppy, rich teens. I knew I had seen “Hanson” before but could not place him. Half way through the episode I realized the actor was Johnny Depp from the film A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. (It was 1987.) I thought it was great that the good-looking guy ended up on such an intriguing television show.

21 Jump Street always managed to handle serious issues in an appropriate and entertaining manner. The first two seasons of the series provided compelling drama, but viewers were almost always guaranteed a happy ending. I was thrilled when I read an article which discussed how the 21 Jump Street cast wanted to start doing episodes that were not neatly packaged, did not have happy endings, and were open-ended. I trusted the cast was aware that viewers were smart enough to use their own brains to figure out what the stories were trying to say. I personally appreciated this and would like to take this opportunity to thank the cast for speaking up and the producers for complying.

As a result, 21 Jump Street became an issue-oriented program. It was no longer baby-faced cops going undercover at local high schools to investigate drug pushing and abuse. The adult officers started going undercover at universities and dealing with hate and date rape crimes. These were very serious themes, and the 21 Jump Street writers always handled them with care by showing consequences or sometimes the reality that there are unfortunately some individuals who manage to escape immediate consequences. I was one of the smart viewers who appreciated this and believed that some where along life’s winding road, those individuals would be dealt with. I embraced the open-ended storylines because I made up my own conclusions, based on my beliefs and outlook on life.

When a viewer can do this, television is good! This is certainly my opinion, of course, but I am not a lazy viewer. I do not think an unprepared observer could have enjoyed watching 21 Jump Street as much as I did. Having to think may become too laborious for the quick-fix, uninvolved viewer.

Whether one saw 21 Jump Street as simple entertainment, or as ground-breaking television, it is still worthy of applause for tackling such issues as substance abuse, rape, racism, bigotry, and AIDS. It was my favorite television show of its time, and frankly, I cannot think of any other program like it. It is truly a blessing no one has copied the incomparable, original, educational series: 21 Jump Street.

15 June 2009

Roseville Library Book Signing

On Saturday, June 27th I will be participating in Roseville Public Library’s Local Author Event from 1:00-4:00 p.m. at the Downtown Roseville Library, located at 225 Taylor Street in Roseville, California. I will sign and read my book, Growing Pains – 10 short stories about growing up, and there will be a Q & A session.

If you do not already have a copy of Growing Pains – 10 short stories about growing up, Barnes & Noble will be selling copies at the event. If you are unable to attend the event, you may purchase Growing Pains from Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Growing-Pains-short-stories-rowing/dp/0615240186/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1224727343&sr=1-1. Thank you for your support; I look forward to meeting you.

Update for June 2009

I am happy it is Summer Break-time. Although it is still Spring, school is out for Summer. This is the time of year when I take a break from teaching and spend more time writing. I currently have a few projects in front of me, and want to share them with you.

To begin, last summer I wrote a screenplay titled, AFRAID FOR YOUR LIFE, and am in development for it right now. What that means is I, as director and producer, am figuring out how much the budget will be and contacting key talent (cast and crew) who I think will be suitable for the film. So far things are moving along well, and some very talented people are ready to be a part of it.

Second, I am writing another script for a project I am looking forward to doing with two other filmmakers. I do not have many details to share, but wanted to let you know this is something I am working on right now. Third, I have started two other scripts–one is a mystery and the other is a drama–and hoping I have time to complete them in the near future.

Lastly, I am still writing my column for Hollywood Scriptwriter magazine (http://www.hollywoodscriptwriter.com). Our next issue will be available (via online subscription) in July. And, of course, I am taking time out for fun.

22 May 2009

The Proposal

Last night I attended an advance screening of THE PROPOSAL starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. I liked it. The story was a familiar one, but the very talented cast invigorates it.

Craig T. Nelson plays Reynolds’ stern father well. I do not think I have ever seen him play a role like this. Mary Steenburgen is graceful as Reynolds’ understanding mother, and Betty White is hilarious as Reynolds’ quirky grandmother. These are the people who “Margaret” (Bullock) meets when she bribes her assistant, “Andrew” (Reynolds), to marry her so she will not be deported–she is a Canadian living in the United States who encounters a problem with her Visa.

I usually prefer watching Sandra Bullock play really nice, down-to-earth characters. However, in THE PROPOSAL she plays an incorrigible, apathetic New York book editor, and I liked her performance. It is especially satisfying seeing “Margaret” show another side of herself while visiting with “Andrew” and his family in Siska, Alaska: Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock (http://www.dailymotion.com/relevance/search/rakim/video/x2c1pk_rob-base-and-dj-ez-rock-it-takes-tw_music). . .after seeing the movie you will understand what this means! THE PROPOSAL opens in U.S. theatres on Friday, June 19.

18 May 2009

Poltergeist: The Legacy

I am enjoying reruns of Poltergeist: The Legacy on Chiller. I remember this series originally airing on television from 1996 to 1999. The cast is very good and includes Derek de Lint (“Derek”), Martin Cummins (“Nick”), Robbi Chong (“Alex”), and Helen Shaver (“Rachel”). Depending on the season, a few other actors are also part of “The Legacy,” but these four seem to appear in the most episodes.

“The Legacy” is a secret society that was founded in England, where there is a Ruling House in London, and protects humankind from occult dangers. Each house has a Precept. “Derek” is the Precept of the San Francisco House where the stories for this series take place. Viewers know that “Derek” has doctorate degrees in anthropology and theology, “Nick” is an ex-Navy SEAL and now investigator, “Alex” has psychic abilities, and “Rachel” is a psychiatrist. These characters are all intelligent and quite intriguing.

For more information about Poltergeist: The Legacy, visit these Web sites: http://www.thelegacy-ws.com/ and http://legacyweb.com/. If you enjoy horror and suspense, you will like watching this show.

21 April 2009

Online Auction to Benefit Diabetes Research

The Fifth Annual Online Auction for Diabetes Research hosted by New York Times best-selling author, Brenda Novak (http://www.brendanovak.com/), includes an autographed copy of my book, GROWING PAINS - 10 short stories about growing up. You may bid (http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/Bidding.taf?_function=detail&Auction_uid1=1202950) on books beginning May 1st. Every year a prize package is offered to the person who places the highest number of bids. Help Brenda make a difference in the lives of millions who live with diabetes by shopping at her auction.

11 April 2009

The Two Sisters Screening in Australia

My movie, THE TWO SISTERS (http://www.tdaentertainment.com/The%20Two%20Sisters.htm), has been accepted by the DeReel Independent Film Festival! The screening will be on Saturday, May 9th at 8:30 p.m. in Beaufort, Victoria, Australia. If you are in the area, I hope you can attend (http://www.dereel.com/sessions.htm).

05 April 2009

In the Eyes of a Killer

This weekend at the Sacramento Film Festival I watched IN THE EYES OF A KILLER starring Louis Mandylor, Gwendolyn Edwards, Costas Mandylor, and James Marshall. It was a sold out screening, as the movie was made in Sacramento. Several local residents were cast in supporting roles and as extras, so many enthusiastic family members and friends were in the audience.

IN THE EYES OF A KILLER is a psychological thriller. In the beginning “Jack,” played by Louis Mandylor, is a great guy who is a blind college professor and wonderful cook who “Gwen,” played by Gwendolyn Edwards, enjoys dating and looks forward to marrying. “Jack” is apprehensive about going through with an experimental eye surgery, but “Gwen” encourages him to move forward with the process.

After a successful surgery, “Jack” regains his sight. Unfortunately, the eyes he receives are a donation from a man who was a rapist and murderer sentenced to death. “Jack” suddenly takes on characteristics of the man, drinking a lot of whiskey, killing people, and even terrorizing “Gwen” on the island where they spend their honeymoon.

Louis Mandylor is the film’s producer and director, and admits it was very difficult acting and directing in a movie at the same time. However, he says he would do it again. I think he did a nice job, and want to see him direct more movies.

IN THE EYES OF A KILLER has some good performances, especially by Louis Mandylor and Costas Mandylor. I also like Gwendolyn Edwards, who I hope to see in more movies. In addition, the story by Mamie Jean is good. Apparently this is a story Mamie wrote 20 years before producing, so it is truly a dream realized for her.

I like this movie, and appreciated the question and answer session after the screening. The best part about attending film festivals is being able to talk directly to filmmakers about their movies. This independent movie is worthy of a theatrical release, so keep an eye out (no pun intended) for IN THE EYES OF A KILLER.

26 March 2009

The Haunting in Connecticut

If I am looking for a house to rent and the owner tells me that “the house has a history,” I would not only take him seriously but scratch that house off my list, especially knowing the history includes the home being a former funeral parlor with mysterious incidents surrounding it. This is the premise of THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT. Of course if the lead character, played by the wonderfully talented Virginia Madsen, thinks the way I do, the movie will end before getting off the ground.

Oddly, at one point the movie almost seems like an episode of the Home and Garden Television (HGTV) series, If Walls Could Talk, because the family discovers photographs and other items in the house after moving in. Since I never like giving away too much, I will not state specifically what they find. But some of it is quite disturbing.

THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT is more than a supernatural thriller with many shocking moments. It is also a drama. It seems while watching this story, I felt sympathy towards the family for having to endure such horrific, inexplicable experiences.

Finally, the acting in this movie is very good, and that is important. Otherwise, the film might be thought of as second-rate. It is unclear whether the movie is actually based on real events. I think that is just another element that can make the story intriguing for some people.

27 February 2009

Are You On Remake Overload?

In the past few years Hollywood studios have released a lot of remakes. Most of the movies are horror or science fiction: Friday the 13th, My Bloody Valentine, Prom Night, The Amityville Horror, When a Stranger Calls, Halloween, War of the Worlds, The Last House on the Left (in theatres March 13, 2009), Children of the Corn (will air on television this year), A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) and so many more.

It is rare for someone to remake a comedy; however, as stated in my January 9, 2009 entry, there may be a MEATBALLS remake on the horizon. Also, I remember at one time there was going to be a remake of REVENGE OF THE NERDS, but that was cancelled. I really like the original REVENGE OF THE NERDS; it is a classic. So I am happy the remake did not happen.

As far as the FRIDAY THE 13TH and HALLOWEEN remakes, their filmmakers refer to them as re-imaginings. Many think that they are calling them re-imaginings so that they can keep the franchises going and take stories into different directions. This will end the original storylines.

I think it is okay to produce remakes, but are you on remake overload? Some of us have to realize these movies are not remakes in the eyes of the younger generations (under 25 years old). In many cases these remakes are “originals” to them.

16 February 2009

The Entertainment Industry Has Changed

The economy is the cause of some of the changes in entertainment, but not all. I just know that as an independent filmmaker I have to do things differently than I did three years ago. It has always been important to have a good cast and promote projects, but now it is smart to keep the budgets low because distributors are paying less (this is because of the economy) and the World Wide Web exists.

Several famous actors are still becoming independent filmmakers. Several famous producers and directors have done the same. I am noticing that they have chosen to show original programs and movies on the Internet instead of on television or dealing with theatres (http://newteevee.com/2008/08/28/justine-batemans-fm78tv-says-tv-is-dead/). However, DVD is still a preferred choice of distribution. Many are even distributing DVDs themselves.

The Internet has made it possible for audiences to view projects that otherwise would not have been available before. This is good news. Major studios are no longer the sole distributors. Many people are unaware of this and still look for films the traditional way: go to the movie theatre, and then buy the DVD or wait for cable to broadcast them.

In addition, I urge you to go to film festivals and support independent filmmakers. Some of the movies screened at festivals will never be available anywhere else. Very few receive widespread distribution. For example, through my company, TDA Entertainment, I distribute my DVD of THE TWO SISTERS, but if people want to see it in other formats they must be in Australia or New Zealand because those are the countries where it has distribution.

14 February 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

I hope you are able to spend today with someone/people who you love. It is not just about romantic love. Valentine's Day is also not just cards, chocolates, and flowers. Make sure the time you spend with loved ones is high quality.

31 January 2009

Halloween Franchise

The movie, HALLOWEEN (1978), inspired many filmmakers, not just the ones making horror movies, but directors shooting other types of films, too. It inspired me because it was an independent movie made for a small amount of money ($320,000 US) by enthusiastic individuals who were fairly recent film school graduates, was a box office success ($55 million–one of the most successful independent films of all time), and people still talk about it today. Millions of fans showered affection on this film, and its legacy still lives on.

HALLOWEEN was successful because of its very talented crew and cast. The story, written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill, about a six year old boy (Michael) who killed his 17-year old sister (Judith) one Halloween night was good: as a result of the murder, his parents had him placed in a sanitarium. Fifteen years later, he escaped and returned to his hometown: Haddonfield. His psychiatrist, Dr. Sam Loomis, knew exactly where he was going and followed him because he believed he was evil.

In addition to a good story, the technical aspects were excellent. The directing (Carpenter), music (Carpenter), lighting, cinematography, sound, editing, etc. were above average. And this was the feature film debut of Jamie Lee Curtis. She was wonderful in this movie. Overall, everyone in the cast was likable and believable, especially Donald Pleasence who played Dr. Loomis.

A movie like this had never been done before, so it was extremely frightening and other filmmakers imitated it. It even imitated itself, because there have been seven sequels, a remake, and in August a sequel to the remake will be released. I saw all seven sequels. They were entertaining, but not excellent like the original. The sequels had graphic violence and gore, which were absent in the first movie, and critics dismissed them. On the other hand, the original HALLOWEEN received many critical reviews (both good and bad).

Another problem with the sequels is the lack of story continuity. I guess since there were various writers and directors, this should be expected. HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH is an exception. It, like HALLOWEEN and HALLOWEEN II, were written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill, and was a totally different story not involving Michael and Dr. Loomis. I like it, but missed seeing the two main characters. Many people, including the producer and owner of the franchise Moustapha Akkad, have said that the movie should have just been called SEASON OF THE WITCH, and not associated with the HALLOWEEN franchise because it is a good movie.

I like the documentary, HALLOWEEN: 25 YEARS OF TERROR, because it takes viewers behind the scenes of the entire series. Also, there are interviews with cast and crew, and footage from the October 2003, 25-year Anniversary Convention – Return to Haddonfield held in Pasadena, California (one of the filming locations of the original HALLOWEEN), including panel discussions with cast and crew. In addition, there is art, videos, and music from the fans.

This franchise certainly has some dedicated admirers, and I think that is wonderful. I have not even mentioned all of the other products, including fan films and comic books, which have been created by many people who love this franchise. As a filmmaker, I hope and pray that I will have such a following some day. It seems like it would be nice having so much support from people all over the world who would encourage me to keep doing what I enjoy, especially during the times when things may not be going so well.

I still watch these movies, especially around Halloween (October 31), because they are fun. I like suspense, and want to follow the series. I have even seen the 2007 remake directed by Rob Zombie. I am not sure what to say about the remake, but I remember after the movie was over people silently exited the theatre. Usually people talk, and I like to stay in the theatre to read the credits and listen to the music, but not this time; I walked out right after the movie ended with everyone else. I am not sure if I am going to see “remake part two.” Maybe curiosity will take over.

26 January 2009

Slumdog Millionaire Wins Again!

Of course I was thrilled last night when SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE won a SAG Award for Best Ensemble in a Motion Picture! I especially liked how Freida Pinto took the time to acknowledge the young actors in the movie. They were stupendous and deserve recognition. Dev Patel also deserved his nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

In addition, I was excited that Richard Jenkins was nominated for Best Actor in THE VISITOR, but disappointed that he did not win. His performance was superb. See my December 10, 2008 entry to read more about THE VISITOR.

I want to see DOUBT and THE READER. These are two movies I have not seen yet that seem extremely intriguing. I like both Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet, so I know I will enjoy seeing them in their award winning performances. I am glad they were honored last night, just as I like seeing the very talented Sally Field win for her role in television’s “Brothers and Sisters” and James Earl Jones receive the life achievement award.

Unfortunately, Brad Pitt has not won an award for THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON. I think he was magnificent in the movie, and really hope he wins an award for it. Another movie that has not even received award recognition is GHOST TOWN. It is a comedy/fantasy that “marches to its own drummer,” if you will. The movie provides laughter and some romance. If you get a chance to see GHOST TOWN, do not pass it up. The movie is fun to watch and stars Greg Kinnear, Ricky Gervais, and Tea Leoni. To learn more about GHOST TOWN, visit the official Web site: http://www.ghosttownmovie.com/#/home.

High Tension and You Better Watch Out

I have watched some horror movies on FearNet recently. For the record, I like horror, not “gorer.” I prefer films that offer suspense, as Alfred Hitchcock accomplished so well. And as a friend of mine has said, “horror is whatever makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.”

One of the movies I watched that absolutely terrified me was HIGH TENSION. Oh my goodness! It certainly provided high tension. I was petrified as an insane man entered a farm house killing each member of an unsuspecting family. However, for some reason he did not kill the daughter, and her college friend, who is visiting, manages to hide from him. It was frightening seeing him drive away in his truck with the daughter and her friend, who willingly got in the back of his truck without him knowing it. She did not want to separate from her friend. The ending was definitely unexpected, and is a bit disturbing, but I would recommend HIGH TENSION to horror fans. There was graphic violence, but the story kept my interest so I sat through it. For more about this movie, visit the official site: http://www.hightensionmovie.com/.

Another movie I watched was YOU BETTER WATCH OUT, also known as, CHRISTMAS EVIL. This independent movie was released in 1980, and is a psychological thriller about a man who is obsessed with Christmas and being Santa Claus. Apparently this movie was popular at Drive In movie theatres. I liked it because I actually laughed at some things, that were probably supposed to be taken seriously, but it was hilarious seeing this grown man have Christmas decorations up (probably year-round), take special care in sewing his Santa suit, drive a van with a sleigh painted on the side and while driving it he shouted, “Go Rudolph, Prancer, Comet,” etc., and to top it off, work at a toy factory. He killed a few people and decided which kids had been naughty or nice. He did not kill any children. Instead he gave them presents. But when adults made him angry, he killed them. This might sound crazy to you, but it was a fun movie to watch, and apparently is a cult classic.

12 January 2009

Slumdog Millionaire is a Winner

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE deserved each of the awards it won at the Golden Globe Awards last night: Best Screenplay (Simon Beaufoy), Best Score (A.R. Rahman), Best Director (Danny Boyle), and Best Motion Picture Drama. I stated in my December 10, 2008 entry here that I thought SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE was very unique and refreshing, which is why I am so excited for everyone who worked on the movie.

While watching the Golden Globe Awards, I enjoyed seeing the cast and crew celebrate as each award was given. I particularly liked how presenter Freida Pinto (“Latika”) said that the movie has made her country (India) proud. Later when the Best Motion Picture Drama award was received, producer Christian Colson said that now the premiere in India will probably be a celebration.

To the cast and crew and anyone else who had anything to do with making SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE: Congratulations!!

10 January 2009

Nash Bridges

Nash Bridges is back on television. Thank you WGN America! I have not seen this show since the 90’s, and am now able to DVR episodes and watch on a regular basis. I remember being full of anticipation, rushing home in time for the premiere episode, turning on my television just in time, having the first scene hold my attention, and being impressed with the opening sequence. San Francisco is a beautiful city and the perfect setting for the action comedy series.

Don Johnson is excellent as the twice divorced police inspector, “Nash Bridges,” who accumulates more vacation time than anyone else on the force. He is determined to work around the clock fighting crime and seeing justice is done. Besides, he is down on luck with women so why not spend every minute on the job? Speaking of women, Nash’s ex-wives could not be more different. Annette O’Toole plays his first wife, “Lisa,” who is also the mother of his daughter, “Cassidy,” played by Jodi Lyn O’Keefe. She and Nash communicate well as long as they do not get too intimate or spend a lot of time together. On the other hand, Serena Scott Thomas plays Nash’s second wife, “Kelly,” who is a passionate romantic; one wonders why they even divorced because they are very intimate.

For the second season, Cheech Marin begins playing Nash’s partner, “Joe Dominguez.” Marin’s comedic timing and chemistry with Johnson are incredible and give the series a special quality, setting Nash Bridges apart from other series’ like it. Also, with the character “Joe” viewers are introduced to his wife, “Inger,” played by Caroline Lagerfelt. “Inger” is Swedish and when her mother comes to live with her and “Joe” in San Francisco there are some funny things that happen such as Inger’s mother getting romantically involved with Nash’s father, “Nick,” played by James Gammon.

I could go on more about the cast, because throughout the series’ six seasons there was always a great one. Jeff Perry is amazing as “Harvey.” Perry is an actor who I wish I could see more; visit his official Web site at http://www.geocities.com/saxon777/Jeff_Perry.html. He is so natural and believable as a San Francisco police inspector. He is an actor with wonderful comedic and dramatic ability. We see him in most episodes providing the show’s special comedic moments and being a reliable co-worker, but also in episodes when a relationship did not exactly work out right and he is not such a good father to his child where he is given the opportunity to show he is also a dramatic performer. My other favorites throughout the series are Jaime Gomez as “Evan,” Mary Mara as “Bryn,” Cress Williams as “Antwon,” Yasmine Bleeth as “Caitlin,” Wendy Moniz as “Rachel,” Daniel Roebuck as the very goofy “Richard Bettina,” Kelly Hu as “Michelle,” and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa who I wish could have played “A.J.” for more than just nine episodes. There are also many other actors who had recurring roles that provided some interesting and fun storylines, including the WWE wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin and Tracey Walter as “Angel” who really thought he could fly!

Each episode of Nash Bridges is like watching a movie. The realization that you are watching a television show only becomes apparent when a commercial breaks in. The series can be formulaic but is not serialized. And, thank goodness, not all episodes end with a car chase. Uniquely, throughout the hour Nash visits (or calls) his daughter or one of his ex-wives, letting viewers know he is not all cop.

Nash Bridges is an entertaining and intelligent series. I like seeing Johnson on Miami Vice as “Sonny Crockett,” and was uncertain whether I would adjust to seeing him in another weekly television series. Several years later I see the Nash Bridges character is very different. Not only does Nash wear socks, but he is older, wiser, and calmer. It is nice seeing Don Johnson on television in a successful series. I truly enjoy watching Nash Bridges, and look forward to seeing him on another quality show.

09 January 2009


I recently watched the movie MEATBALLS on The Movie Channel. It had been many years since I saw the 1979 classic comedy, starring Bill Murray in his feature film debut, and I still laughed a lot. The movie was so well done and hilarious.

MEATBALLS has inspired three sequels and several comedy movies with a summer camp setting. The setting is certainly a highlight. The music makes it clear with the children’s choir singing, “Are you ready for the summer. . .”

Bill Murray was working on television’s Saturday Night Live when he was cast in this movie. His performance was excellent, and while watching I was quickly reminded how much I enjoyed him playing these types of roles. His character, “Tripper,” was very funny, even silly, but Murray made him likable. I especially liked how he helped “Rudy,” played by Chris Makepeace, feel accepted. “Rudy” was a kid ready to leave camp because the other kids made fun of him, making him feel like an outsider.

My favorite scene in MEATBALLS is when “Tripper” lets the campers and counselors know that since they were defeated on the first day of the Olympiad against Camp Mohawk, “it just doesn’t matter if we win or if we lose.” He quickly gets everyone to clap and chant “it just doesn’t matter!” It’s funny and in a special way very inspirational for everyone at Camp North Star.

Watching this movie today, there is one more thing that is funny, which was not funny in 1979, and that is the music. It is very 70’s! I am a product of the 70’s so I am not making fun of the music. It just sounds funny listening to the soundtrack and remembering things about the songs. For example, during the social the song Makin’ It by David Naughton is playing. Do you remember him performing that song on Solid Gold or maybe American Bandstand? I think I do, and I also remember Makin’ It being a popular hit on the Billboard charts and in roller skating rinks! Sing along: “Makin’ it. . .I’ve got the chance I’m taken it. . .no more, no more fakin’ it. . .this time in life I’m makin’ it. . .whoa, whoa, whoa. . .” If you want to hear the song, go to the following Web site: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyn2HnvKcjw.

Lastly, there is apparently a remake in the works. I am not sure what to think about it. Today we should probably be used to movies being remade because it has become so common. I guess movies made in the past are so good and/or well-liked that they have to be either imitated or remade.


My new novel, THE TWO SISTERS, is available for purchase:  The Two Sisters by Terri Dawn Arnold . The story has crime, drama, and mystery. L...