Friday, October 31, 2008

Monthly Wallpaper - November 2008: Sports Movies

Go team! Our Movie Dearest November calendar wallpaper salute to Sports Movies features the cinematic athletic endeavors of baseball (The Pride of the Yankees, Bull Durham, The Natural), football (Rudy), basketball (Hoosiers), boxing (Rocky, Raging Bull), horse racing (Seabiscuit), karate (The Karate Kid), bicycling (Breaking Away), soccer (Bend It Like Beckham), golf (Caddyshack) and the ultimate sporting competition, the Olympics (Chariots of Fire).

Just click on the picture above to enlarge it to its 1024 x 768 size, then right click your mouse and select "Set as Background", and you're all set. If you want, you can also save it to your computer and set it up from there, or modify the size in your own photo-editing program if needed.

On Location: The Bates Motel

To conclude not only our month long On Location looks at the locales of the scariest movies of all time, but also our Octoberfest of filmic frights, we take a trip to the set of the most celebrated horror movie of all time, Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.

The exteriors of the Bates Motel and the adjacent Bates family home were constructed on the Universal Studios backlot. The buildings, which have made appearances in many other films and TV shows over the years, can still be seen on Universal Hollywood's theme park tram tour.

For a creepy up-close look, head on over (if you dare) to our pal Retrocrush's photo-filled trip report of when he got to walk in Norman's footsteps. Look closely, and you'll even see the frightful image of Mama Bates, lurking in the parlor window.

Out in Film: Howard Ashman

Idol worship: Howard Ashman, lyricist/writer/ director/producer.

- He first collaborated with his longtime musical partner Alan Menken on a musical adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's novel God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, but it was their Little Shop of Horrors (with lyrics, book and direction by Ashman and based on the B-movie classic Roger Corman film) that became a hit. It ran for five years and is one of the highest grossing Off-Broadway productions of all time. He would go on to adapt the script for the 1986 film version, and received his first Academy Award nomination for the new song "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space".

- He directed and wrote the book and lyrics for his next screen-to-stage musical, based on the movie Smile. With music by Marvin Hamlisch, it was short lived on Broadway, but would go on to gain cult status in subsequent years.

- The success of Little Shop on both stage and screen brought him to the attention of the Disney Studio in the mid-80's. His first work for them was the song "Once Upon a Time in New York City" for the animated film Oliver and Company, but it was his next three projects (reuniting him with Menken) that would bring him his greatest acclaim: The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. Six of his songs for this unofficial "trilogy" (which revitalized Disney and set the standard for all animated films to follow) were nominated for Oscars, winning two for Mermaid's "Under the Sea" and the Beauty title song. He also won Golden Globes and Grammy Awards for the two toon tunes.

- Tragically, he would never know the true success that his wonderful music brought to audiences of all ages; he passed away due to complications from AIDS in 1991, months before the debut of Beauty and the Beast. That film is dedicated to his memory: "To our friend Howard, who gave a mermaid her voice and a beast his soul, we will be forever grateful".

- However, his legacy lives on. In addition to the posthumous Oscar for "Beauty and the Beast" (accepted by his surviving partner, Bill Lauch), he received Tony Award nominations for the stage versions of both Beauty and Mermaid and was named a Disney Legend in 2001. And a new two-disc CD, titled Howard Sings Ashmanand featuring rare demo recordings of the lyricist singing his songs from both stage and screen, will be released November 11.

Happy Halloween!

Wishing everyone a frightfully fun yet safe Halloween tonight -- don't get your tricks mixed in with your treats!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Reverend’s Halloween Review: Madonna’s Scary Movie

While a successful acting career has alluded her, save her Golden Globe-winning turn as Evita, that hasn’t stopped Madonna from trying her hand at directing. Her behind-the-camera debut, Filth and Wisdom (released by IFC Films, watch the trailer here) opens tomorrow in Los Angeles and is already playing in New York City.

The good news: it isn’t as unwatchable or as downright laughable as some of the films Madonna has starred in. She has assembled a pretty good if no-name cast (apart from Richard E. Grant) for this London-set tale about political-sexual expatriates trying to achieve their dreams of success. Madonna also has a good command of the technical dimensions of filmmaking, and she is well-aided here by director of photography Tim Maurice Jones and editor Russell Icke.


The bad news: Madonna’s skill as a screenwriter leaves a lot to be desired. There’s hardly a cliché unturned in the dialogue (“There is duality in everything”), and the script (co-written by Dan Cadan) seems built upon a laundry list of Madonna’s longtime obsessions: fetishes, sex, music, sex, cross-dressing, sex, dance, sex and class/religious distinctions. Actually, no sex is depicted in Filth and Wisdom — unless you count a guy in schoolboy attire getting spanked by his role-playing “headmaster” — but the topic overshadows everything else.

In the end, Filth and Wisdom is neither all that filthy nor wise, and its characters and story aren’t particularly memorable. However, it offers a glimmer of hope that Madonna may yet achieve cinematic glory … but behind the camera and not in front of it.

UPDATE: Filth and Wisdom is now available on DVDfrom Amazon.com.

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

The Latest in Theaters: Zack & Miri & Bruce & Jesse

Not everything will be spooks and scares this Halloween weekend at the movies; there will also be some laughs, a little romance and maybe a tear or two in this week's new releases:
To find out what films are playing in your area, visit Fandango - Search movie showtimes and buy tickets!

Cruising for Tricks and Treats

If you ever wanted to dress up like Al Pacino as Cruising's undercover detective Steve Burns for Halloween, now's your chance. A hanky for your back pocket (choose the appropriate color and positioning from this handy NSFW chart) and a bottle of poppers (sold separately) are all you need to complete this risk-taking ensemble. And don't forget to practice your dance moves.

For more lost costumes of yesteryear, be sure to check out this INSANE fashion show held by the geniuses over at Kindertrauma.

Best of the Fests: AFI Fest 2008

An "unfinished version" of John Patrick Shanley's Doubt (the religious drama based on his Tony Award winning play and starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams) will open the American Film Institute's AFI Fest 2008 tonight. The last minute change is due to Paramount pulling The Soloist (Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr.) from the lineup since they have rescheduled it to open next spring.

The Soloist is just one of several high profile films that are being shifted to 2009 (and thus out of this year's awards races), such as Crossing Over (Harrison Ford and Sean Penn), The Road (Viggo Mortensen) and Shanghai (John Cusack), not to mention the oft-delayed Fanboys.


One film that will sneak in under the wire is Edward Zwick's Defiance (starring Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell), which closes AFI Fest on November 9. The Holocaust drama (watch the trailer here) will have a limited run starting December 31 (thereby just barely qualifying it for potential future gold) and then open wide January 16.

And speaking of awards and Doubt, it has been revealed that Philip Seymour Hoffman will be shooting for a Supporting Actor nomination for the film. This will put him in direct competition yet again with Heath Ledger, pretty much a sure thing at this point for his Joker in The Dark Knight.

Estelle Reiner: 1914-2008

Estelle Reiner, best known for delivering one of the funniest punch lines in film history, passed away last Saturday. She was 94.

The wife of Carl Reiner (she was the inspiration for the character of Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show), her brief but memorable cameo in her son Rob's 1989 romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally ... made her a star. Her only line in the movie -- "I'll have what she's having", quipped in response to Meg Ryan's infamous fake orgasm in the middle of a New York deli -- was named one of the top 100 movie quotes by the American Film Institute in 2005.

In addition to roles in Fatso, The Man with Two Brains and To Be or Not To Be, Reiner was also an artist and jazz singer, a career she began at the age of 65.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Women We Love: Annette Funicello

Object of our affection: Annette Funicello, actress and singer.

- At age 12, she was discovered by none other than Walt Disney himself and cast as one of the original Mousketeers on the original Mickey Mouse Club. She would soon become the show's breakout star, receiving 6,000 fan letters a month. In addition to her mouse-eared appearances on the program, she also starred in several serials, including Spin & Marty and her own, titled simply Annette (a collection of all 19 episodes of which will be released as part of the Walt Disney TreasuresDVD line on November 11).

- Following MMC, she remained under contract with Disney and starred in the movies The Shaggy Dog (her film debut), Babes in Toyland, The Misadventures of Merlin Jones, and The Monkey's Uncle, as well as television guest spots on Zorro and Elfego Baca, among others. She also had a (reluctant) singing career via the studio, producing such hit songs as "Tall Paul", "Jo Jo the Dog Faced Boy" (?!) and "Pineapple Princess". Due to her many contributions to the studio, she was named a Disney Legend in 1992.

- Moving on from Disney, she became a certified teen idol in a popular string of "beach movies" opposite Frankie Avalon. The pair co-starred in six of them during the 1960's -- Beach Party, Muscle Beach Party, Bikini Beach, Beach Blanket Bingo and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini -- and would later re-team many a time on television as well as for a reunion movie in 1987, Back to the Beach.

- In the 1970's, she was a frequent presence on television thanks to her many commercial appearances as the spokesperson for Skippy peanut butter.

- She announced that she suffers from multiple sclerosis in 1992 and published her biography, A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: My Story,two years later. It was made into a TV movie, A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: The Annette Funicello Story, starring Eva La Rue.

A Single Man a Go

Per EW.com, the film adaptation of the classic Christopher Isherwood novel A Single Man will start filming next month under the direction of fashion mogul-turned-first time director Tom Ford (as previously reported).

The story, set in 1962, depicts one day in the life of George (to be played by Colin Firth), a gay middle-aged Englishman who works as a college professor in Los Angeles, whose lover Jim (Matthew Goode, of this year's Brideshead Revisited and next year's Watchmen) has recently died in a car accident. Julianne Moore will also star.

UPDATE: Big Love's Ginnifer Goodwin and About a Boy's Nicholas Hoult (as a "sexually ambiguous grad student who shows an unusual interest in" George) have joined the cast.

Death Becomes Them

Death is not a funny subject ... except in some movies ... and especially if it involves Anne Ramsey, a basketball and a Deadly Friend.

(And yes, the videos are NSFW.)

La Vie en Melrose

On the heels of the (somewhat) success of their 90210 reboot, the CW is looking to return to another familiar Southern California TV locale (also created by Darren Star): Melrose Place. Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello reports that the network is aiming to launch the new series as early as next fall, but there's not much more to go on at this point.

However, like the nouveau 90210, one can assume that the new Melrose will feature a fresh set of characters in familiar settings (Shooters, D&D, the WeHo apartment complex with its infamous swimming pool -- so perfect for catfights and accidental drownings). And of course, there's a whole slew of former cast members ripe for the guest star picking ... those whose characters didn't meet untimely ends, that is.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

First Look: Beltrán as Lorca and Pattinson as Dalí

Javier Beltrán as poet Federico García Lorca and Twilight's Robert Pattinson as a young Salvador Dalí square off in the first (and gayest) Dalí biopic to get out of the gate, Little Ashes, due next year.

Toon Talk: In the Tink

Since her stage debut as a spot of light in J.M. Barrie’s legendary play Peter Pan, Tinker Bell has enchanted and delighted audiences of all ages. However, following her featured role in Walt Disney’s classic animated version over 50 years ago, Miss Bell has had her ups (introducing the weekly Disney television series, leading the nightly fireworks shows at Disney theme parks worldwide) and downs (four words: Julia Roberts in Hook). Nevertheless, Tink is a show biz trooper; she even received her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame recently.

Already the most famous fairy of all time, Tinker Bell is about to get even bigger (despite her pixyish size) as Disney launches its latest multi-media franchise, with Tink herself front and center. With books, websites and a slew of merchandise, the Disney Fairies are poised to give the Disney Princesses a run for their money … all the way to the bank.


Chief among the new wave of offerings set to enthrall little girls everywhere is a brand new series of original DVD adventures starring our gal and her fairy friends, the first of which, titled Tinker Bell (naturally), is now availableon both standard Disney DVD and Disney Blu-ray. And if this premiere installment is any indication, fans of fairies and fantasies are in for a treat for years to come.

Click here to continue reading my Toon Talk review of Tinker Bell at LaughingPlace.com

Poster Post: Monsters with Babes Edition

With Halloween fast approaching, here's a collection of old school B-movie posters featuring the best of the classic "Monsters with Babes" motif. First up, you don't get any more B-grade then Ed Wood's Bride of the Monster, starring "the screen's master of the weird", the one and only Bela Lugosi.


Then there's Attack of the Crab Monsters ... damn, I hate it when that happens ...


Who could forget The Beast with 1,000,000 Eyes? And who knew it only had seven eyes?


And of course, a true icon in every sense of the word: Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, which cleverly provided eager audiences with a monster who was a babe.

For more "Monsters with Babes" posters, check out the gallery over at Retrocrush.

The Latest on DVD: The Gang's All Here

Featuring all 80 of the original Hal Roach Our Gang gang's theatrical talkies in their entirety, fully remastered, restored and uncut, The Little Rascals: The Complete Collectionis a treasure trove for fans of these classic comedy shorts.

Spanning the years 1929 to 1938, this collections contains the timeless adventures of Spanky, Alfalfa, Darla, Buckwheat, Porky, Wheezer, Stymie, Butch, et al (and don't forget their dog Petey and the lovely Miss Crabtree) in a deluxe 8-disc set, plus a collectible booklet, rare bonus footage (including three silent Little Rascals shorts) new featurettes (such as one on "Rascals and Racial Issues") and a heaping helping of nostalgia.

Check out the Latest on DVD widgets located in the sidebar for more of this week's new DVD releases available today from Amazon.com.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Toon Talk: Senioritis

Following the phenomenal success of the original High School Musical on The Disney Channel two years ago, which was further cemented by the equally popular made for TV High School Musical 2 last year, the decision to bring the third and (supposedly) final chapter of the HSM trilogy to the big screen as a theatrical release was still a risky one for Disney.

As evidenced by this summer’s dismal ratings flop reality series (High School Musical: Get in the Picture), not all things HSM are sure things. However, with the chart-topping box office returns this past weekend of High School Musical 3: Senior Year, all has been righted in the world, this world that will continue to be gripped (at least for the immediate future) in the throes of Wildcat fever.

But how does HSM3 stack up to its predecessors? Not too shabbily, as a matter of fact. While the by-now tried-and-true HSM formula (Troy and Gabriella once again face teen angst-y problems that may rip their true love apart, Sharpay schemes to keep her self-deluded stardom on the rise, all is made happy through peppy pop songs and delirious dance numbers) is very much apparent … so much so that if there is a HSM4 (as rumored), I suspect it will collapse into self-parody.

Nevertheless, by the time the diplomas are handed out in a frenzied finale, director/choreographer Kenny Ortega and screenwriter Peter Barsocchini will have you as wrapped up in the celebration as much as if it was your own kin standing there in cape and gown.

Click here to continue reading my Toon Talk review of High School Musical 3 on LaughingPlace.com.

UPDATE: High School Musical 3: Senior Year is now available on DVD and Blu-rayfrom Amazon.com.

Cinematic Crush: Rock Hudson

Crush object: Rock Hudson, actor.

- Born Roy Harold Scherer Jr. in 1925, he would go on to become "Rock Hudson", one of the most popular movie stars of the 1950's and 60's. But his screen beginnings were not quite auspicious: legend has it that it took 38 takes before he could successfully deliver his one line in his film debut Fighter Squadron.

- His first major successes were opposite Jane Wyman in the Douglas Sirk melodramas Magnificent Obsession and All That Heaven Allows, followed by his one and only Academy Award nomination, for George Stevens' Giant.

- He closed out the 50's by starring with Doris Day in the first of their popular romantic comedies, Pillow Talk; they would re-team for Lover Come Back and Send Me No Flowers.

- In the 70's and 80's, he turned mostly to television, most notably with his hit crime fighter series McMillan & Wife and the mini-series version of Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles. His final screen role before his headline making death in 1985 of AIDS related causes was on the nighttime soap opera Dynasty.

- Other classic movies in his filmography include Written on the Wind, A Farewell to Arms, Seconds, Ice Station Zebra, Darling Lili and The Mirror Crack'd.

See more pictures of Rock Hudson in The Back Room (NSFW).

Reverend’s Reviews: Take a Trip to Boystown

While every major city has a “boystown” popular among its gay citizens and visitors, the city under examination in TLA Releasing’s new DVD(available tomorrow) Boystown (Chuecatown) is Madrid, Spain. Such “gayborhoods” can be so lucrative that some, as this comedy-suspense film by Juan Flahn reveals, would even kill to speed development on.

It isn’t beneath real estate agent Victor (played by the very hot Pablo Puyol) to wack old ladies and seduce committed gay partners in order to secure apartments for demanding, upwardly-mobile gay tenants in Madrid’s Chueca district. The vulnerable partners are bear Leo (Pepon Nieto) and his cub Rey (Carlos Fuentes). Their long-time relationship becomes strained when Rey’s mother unexpectedly moves into their building, providing Victor just the opening he needs and thrusting them all into his murderous plot.


The well-written Boystown is suspenseful and funny by turns. It also serves as an intelligent critique of the forces that often unite to exploit a neighborhood’s gentrification, embodied here by Victor and the bitchy mayor of Madrid. The high point of Boystown, though, is the wonderful Rosa Maria Sardà (previously seen in numerous Pedro Almodóvar movies) as the neurotic police detective investigating Chueca’s growing number of murders. She is smart and resourceful, both as a detective and as the mother of a grown gay son bursting out of his closet.

If you’re a gay man or couple thinking of buying a place in your local boystown, you’d do well to watch Boystown … as well as check your potential future neighborhood’s police log.

Watch the trailer here.

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Awards Watch: Lifetime Achievements 2008

Michael Douglas has been selected as the recepient of the 37th American Film Institute Life Achievement Award. The Academy Award winning actor (Wall Street) and producer (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) will be feted in a star-studded ceremony next June, with a televised special expected to follow later that month. Michael's father Kirk received the AFI award (described as "the highest honor for a career in film") in 1991, thus making the father and son the first cross-generational winners.

Meanwhile, over at the Screen Actors Guild, James Earl Jones will be awarded their 45th lifetime achievement honor. The career of the Oscar nominated (The Great White Hope) acting legend/voice of Darth Vader/ Mufasa/CNN will be celebrated during the guild's 15th annual SAG Awards on January 25.

And in more lifetime honors news, the 2008 Disney Legends were named in a ceremony earlier this month. This year's recepients, who are selected for their "significant and lasting impact on the Disney legacy", include ABC News icon Barbara Walters, Oscar winning composer Oliver Wallace (Dumbo) and the current voices of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, husband and wife Wayne Allwine and Russi Taylor.

UPDATE: LaughingPlace.com has a video, pictures and a full report on the recent Disney Legends ceremony.

Film Art: Mad Scientist Edition

Wrapping up our month long Film Art salute to Halloween favorites, here's some ghoulish publicity art for the cult classic Re-Animator. Talk about getting "a head" in your field ...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

MD Poll: Dream a Little DreamWorks

As always, DreamWorks Animation is following in the footsteps of Disney, but this time it isn't a "tooner", but a tuner. Joining Disney's The Lion King and The Little Mermaid on Broadway, Shrek the Musical will begin previews on November 8, and if it rakes in the green (sorry), you know Katzenberg and Co. will be eyeing their feature film canon for their next foray on the Great White Way.

And that's where you and the latest MD Poll come in: What DreamWorks Animation movie should be the next Broadway musical? Possibilities include their first feature (Antz) and their latest (Kung Fu Panda), The Prince of Egypt and The Road to El Dorado (which already boast scores by Stephen Schwartz/Hans Zimmer and Elton John/Tim Rice, respectively) and their Aardman Animations collaborations (Chicken Run, Flushed Away and the Academy Award winning Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit), plus such hits as Madagascar, Over the Hedge and Shark Tale.

Place your vote in the poll located in the sidebar at right, and "toon" in two weeks from now to see the results!

UPDATE: This poll is now closed; click here for the results, and click here to vote in the latest MD Poll.

MD Poll: The Late Night Double Feature Picture Show

Well, it may not be the most horror-ific on the list, but it certainly is the gayest. In the last MD Poll asking you to name your favorite "Homo Horror" movie, The Rocky Horror Picture Show easily Time Warped itself to victory with over a third of the votes.

The gay slasher flick Hellbent and the Hitchcock classic Rope round out the top three. See the comments section below for the full stats, and stay "tooned" for the next MD Poll.

Illustration by Ken Taylor.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Out in Film: Annie Leibovitz

Idol worship: Annie Leibovitz, photographer.

- She is an internationally acclaimed portrait photographer whose style is marked by a close collaboration between herself and the subject.

- Her professional career began at Rolling Stone; her thirteen-year tenure at the magazine helped define the look of the magazine. Her famous 1980 cover shot of John Lennon and Yoko Ono was the last photo taken of Lennon; he was assassinated five hours after it was taken.

- Since 1983, she has been the featured portrait photographer for Vanity Fair. Celebrity subjects have included everyone from Tom Cruise to Leonardo DiCaprio to (notoriously) Miley Cyrus. Her infamous cover of a pregnant Demi Moore was parodied by Paramount Pictures for the movie posters of Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult; she unsuccessfully sued the studio for copyright infringement.

- Other projects have included album covers for Cyndi Lauper and Bruce Springsteen, Walt Disney World's Year of a Million Dreams photo campaign and portraits of such world leaders as Queen Elizabeth II and Barack Obama.

- The American Masters documentary Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens(directed by her sister Barbara) makes its DVD debut this Tuesday.

On Location: The Exorcist Stairs

This is the fifth in a month long Halloween-themed series of On Location posts that will take you "back to the scene of the crime" of some of the greatest horror movies ever made.

Located in an unassuming neighborhood in Washington DC, they were once known as "the Hitchcock stairs" before William Peter Blatty and William Friedkin came around. Now, they are "The Exorcist stairs", made (in)famous in the classic horror film when a recently demonized Father Karras (Jason Miller) flings himself out a window and topples down, down, down to his untimely yet heroic end.

Furthermore, not too far from the top of the stairs is the location used for the exterior of the MacNeil house, complete with lamppost, featured so memorably in the film and its iconic poster.

Annie Hall: The Musical?

Don't worry, it's only a play about turning Woody Allen's Academy Award winning Best Picture Annie Hall into a stage musical. The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall, a new comedy starring Tony Award winner Dan Fogler (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), opens tonight in (appropriately enough) New York City.

In more unlikely screen-to-stage transfers, the guys who brought us Silence! Silence of the Lambs: The Musical are now turning their satirical gaze on the B-movie classic They Saved Hitler's Brain.

Meanwhile, another cheesy sci-fi fave-turned-tuner, The Toxic Avenger, is currently playing (appropriately enough) in New Jersey; rumor has it that it may move Off-Broadway in the near future.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Reverend’s Interview: Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom's Patrik-Ian Polk

While it has often been referred to as the gay black man’s Sex and the City, the 2006-2007 LOGO TV series Noah’s Arc has a vibe and style all its own. Despite some initially amateurish acting, the show was quickly embraced by gay men of all ethnicities. However, LOGO decided to cancel the series after just two seasons — to the surprise of its creator, Patrik-Ian Polk — but they did make it the subject of the company’s first film for theatrical release. The result, Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom, opens in select US cities tomorrow (watch the trailer here).

LOGO's unusual decision has paid off, at least artistically. Jumping the Broom (the subtitle refers to a wedding custom African slaves brought to America) is a wonderfully satisfying movie that picks up two years after the TV series’ conclusion. Reuniting the original cast, it is a very well written, funny and touching exploration of the meaning of friendship, marriage and commitment. Spoiler alert: be sure to take Kleenex; you’ll need it for the finale.

Polk called in the midst of a press junket in New York City to talk about his first feature since 2000’s Sundance smash, Punks. I asked him how he felt about the decision to cancel the Noah’s Arc series in favor of a movie.


Jensen Atwood, Patrik-Ian Polk and Darryl Stephens on the set of Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom.

“It wasn’t my decision,” Polk made clear, “but it was ‘good news, bad news.’ I’m still confused by (the network’s decision), but the movie is getting great response and early tickets sales are big, so it’s hard to be disappointed.”

Polk denies that HBO’s popular Sex and the City was the inspiration for Noah’s Arc. Rather, he says “It was very simple: while attending a black Gay Pride event in Los Angeles, I realized there wasn’t anything on TV representing this community. I decided then and there ‘I’m going to make a TV show!”

Of course, it wasn’t that simple in execution. Polk had to finance the Noah’s Arc pilot independently. He remains particularly grateful to the LA-based Black AIDS Institute and its president, Phill Wilson, for their early support. “They have been incredibly helpful in raising the initial money for the pilot,” Polk told me, “and they co-sponsored early screenings and a national tour of the pilot, which attracted LOGO.”

I was surprised to learn Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom was shot in an unusually speedy 15 days. Polk explained, “It was a budget necessity; no overtime or going over-budget were allowed.” By comparison, the writer-director’s Punks was shot in 18 days on a lower budget. “But it was a more complex shoot,” Polk explained. “This one was simple in terms of only using one location.”


Patrick-Ian Polk and Rodney Chester on the set of Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom.

Music figured prominently in the Noah’s Arc series, and the movie is no exception. The soundtrack, available onlineand in stores now, features songs by Solange Knowles (Beyonce’s sister), Nikki Jane, Michelle Williams, Phoebe Snow and Polk himself, among other artists.

I asked Polk about his next film, an adaptation of Larry Duplechan’s novel Blackbird, scheduled to begin shooting next month. “It’s the story of a group of high school kids in a small town, with a gay coming-of-age story at the center,” he said.

In discussing his future goals, Polk told me “I just want to be afforded the opportunity to continue making films and TV shows; I’d love to have a series on network TV someday.” He also confided that Jumping the Broom might not be the last chapter of Noah’s Arc. “If the movie does well, who knows?”

UPDATE: Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom is now available on DVDfrom Amazon.com.

Interview by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.
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