William Jennings; Brandon Teena Gets Fictional Treatment
by Kevin Dreyfus
>>Randall Harris Makes Debut
Writer-Director Randall Harris makes his debut with the Avenue Pictures
production, "Letters from a Wayward Son," currently gearing up for
production. The film stars Harry Connick, Jr. ("Hope Floats"), Tara Reid
("The Big Lebowski"), Embeth Davidtz ("The Gingerbread Man"), and Pete
Postlethwaite ("Brassed Off"). The story involves a man recently
released from prison after serving a stint for rape, and going to live
with a family in the South. There he must deal with small town
reactions to the presence of an ex-con in their midst and the
complication of an affair with the family's young daughter.
>>Brandon Teena Story Gets Fictional Treatment
New writer-director Kimberly Pierce is currently in pre-production on
"Take it Like a Man," a fictional treatment of the tragically true
Brandon Teena story, about a woman who arrives in Nebraska disguised as
a suave ladies man, only to be raped and murdered after her secret is
uncovered. The subject of a documentary which opens at New York City's
Film Forum today, the story has long-attracted film interest, and Pierce
developed the script at Sundance Labs beginning in 1997. Christine Vachon
is producing the film along with Pamela Koffler, and while cast is still being
finalized, actor Brendan Sexton Jr. ("Welcome to the Dollhouse") told Toronto
Film Festival audiences that he would be acting in the project.
>>Debut Film by Justin McCarthy Shoots in NYC
Currently shooting in New York is the independent feature "Jump,"
written and directed by first-timer Justin McCarthy. The film features
James LeGros ("Living in Oblivion"), Roger Rees ("Next Stop
Wonderland"), Ione Skye ("Gas, Food, Lodging"), Mike McGlone ("Brothers
McMullen") and many others, including a cameo by McCarthy's brother
Andrew McCarthy ("St. Elmo's Fire") as a somewhat psychotic clown.
Budgeted at $1 million, the dark comedy concerns a guy out on a ledge on
the verge of committing suicide, and the friends who come to talk him
down and end up mostly talking about themselves. Producer Galt
Niederhoffer ("Hurricane Streets") has this to say about McCarthy,
according to Daily Variety; "Justin and this film will exfoliate the
pimples off the acne-scarred face of independent film."" Ouch.
>>"Harlem Aria" Lenses In NYC
In another debut, first-time writer-director William Jennings is
currently shooting his urban fairy tale "Harlem Aria" on location in New
York. Starring Damon Wayans ("Mo' Money"), Gabriel Casseus ("Fallen")
and Christian Camargo ("The Story of a Bad Boy"), and co- executive
produced by Wayans, the film is about a young man with a twisted sense
of reality who seeks out his dream to be an opera singer. On his journey
he gets help from a guilt-ridden pianist and a street-savvy hustler, and
the all grow and change together. Film producers are Rene Bastian and
Linda Moran ("Sue," "Fiona") who are currently participating in the IFFM
No Borders program with Michael Jones' script, "Miller."