Movies & Celebrities


Jerry Garcia

Written for The Fix

“They were freewheeling people and drugs were the wheels.”
— Warner Bros. Records president Bob Smith

Amir Bar-Lev’s rockumentary, Long Strange Trip, about the Grateful Dead, is aptly named for what is arguably the band’s most famous lyric: What a long, strange trip it’s been. The film takes you on a four-hour ride (much like the band’s live shows) but this is not just another indulgent music doc. (read more…)

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My movie pick for this year’s Tribeca Film Festival: Hounds of Love ★★★★★

At the start of this thriller, we’re introduced to a quiet, picturesque suburb in Perth, Australia where women are disappearing. It’s 1987 in this chilling, unforgettable film where killing couple John (Stephen Curry) and Evelyn White (Emma Booth) are abducting young female victims. The characters are based on real-life husband and wife murderers David and Catherine Birnie who killed four women in the 1980s in their home in Perth. The press dubbed the crimes the Moorhouse murders after the Birnie’s address.

Much to its credit, the movie shows very little gore. Most of the violence goes on your head—much like in Psycho‘s shower scene where you hear the horrifying music, spot the knife, see a flash of Janet Leigh’s terrified scream. The rest comes from your own mind, filling in grotesque images of what must be happening. Hounds of Love uses slow motion snippets to brilliantly introduce us to the quaint little town. A  carefully chosen and well-timed soundtrack merges with the slow-mo to create goose-bumpy fear. This is a shocking debut for writer-director Ben Young. It has the self-control and masterful storytelling you’d expect from a seasoned filmmaker.

Teenager Vicki Maloney (Ashleigh Cummings), 17, picks the wrong night to rebel against her mother. Emotionally distraught by her parent’s recent uncoupling, Vicki sneaks out to go to a party. She blames her mother Maggie (Susie Porter), an artistic free spirit, for blowing up their family unit. Vicki’s dad Trevor (Damian de Monemas) is a successful surgeon but Maggie felt smothered by him and chose a more bohemian lifestyle. Vicki is having a hard time adjusting despite her loving and supportive boyfriend (Harrison Gilbertson). She’s furious with her mom but pampered with gifts by her Dad, including an adorable puppy.

Ashleigh Cummings as Vicki Maloney.

It’s easy to identify with Vicki in spite of, or because of, her broody moodiness as a teen. We watch helplessly as the serial killers lure Vicki into their car by offering to smoke a joint with her and bring her to a fun party. They look so normal and friendly. It’s not the tired device in a million B-movies where the soon-to-be imperiled character wonders who might be in a scary, dark dungeon of a basement and stupidly goes in alone to investigate. Ben Young’s writing is smart and believable. At Vicki’s age, I could’ve been easily swayed to hang with these peeps.

The acting is as superb as the script, cinematography (Michael McDermott), and soundtrack (Moody Blues, Cat Stevens, and a haunting score by Australian composer Dan Luscombe). It all fits together seamlessly to scare the bejeezus out of you. It also offers layered characters. Evelyn is a deeply disturbed woman who should’ve attended 12-step codependency meetings instead of worshipping John as her higher power. It’s reminiscent of girls like Patricia Krenwinkel and Susan Atkins who offered Charles Manson godlike worship and total submission.

Bound and gagged and secured to a bed in the White’s home, Vicki becomes their object to play with and taunt. Problems arise when John takes a special interest in this prisoner. Evelyn feels threatened by John’s obsessive fascination with their beautiful — and younger — captive. Vicki sees the manipulative hold John has on Evelyn and uses that to her advantage by appealing to the tiny, hidden piece of Evelyn that knows that John uses her. The females in the film are an intriguing contrast: weak, pathetic Evelyn versus strong, self-reliant, resourceful Vicki and her Mom.

After viewing multitudinous movies at Tribeca Film Festival, I cannot get this one out of my head, nor do I want to. It is that good.


Best Feature: Hounds of Love, The Overlook Film Festival
Best Actress: Ashleigh Cummings, Fedeora Award, Venice Film Festival
Best Actress: Emma Booth, Brussels International Film Festival
Best Director: Ben Young, Brussels International Film Festival

Video © Dorri Olds


Dorri Olds: Stephen, you were a really scary sociopath. And you’re a comedian, right?

Stephen Curry: Yeah. [Laughs]

DO: Are you one of those people that could get deep into character and then snap out of character on breaks?

Ashleigh Cummings and Emma Booth [in unison]: Yes!

Stephen: Yeah, well that’s the thing, that’s what I usually do but it was a lot harder on this because of how involved we became and how intrinsically we were working together to make this piece. To see the performances that were coming out of Ashleigh and Emma, it was increasingly harder to pull ourselves away. We were in that reality and the realization, and acceptance, that this stuff happens to real people is a really, really horrible thought. That was one of the reasons we had to tell this story. And we wanted to do it in as respectful a manner as possible. And that meant committing 100 percent to it.

Ashleigh: Stephen was amazing. He’d bring us out of it at lunchtime by playing his ukulele.

Emma: He was amazing! He used to write improvised songs for us with a ukulele, which we have on tape.

Ashleigh: We do.

Stephen: You’ve got that on tape?

Emma: Yeah, I do. Stephen is actually unbelievably hilarious and brilliant. Just having him there with that energy and humor, was great.

Ashleigh: Yeah, it was dark. It was almost suffocating the amount of grief and the location was a very claustrophobic place to work.

DO: Why?

Emma: Because that’s all we could afford. [Laughs] And we were going through this crazy heatwave in Australia.

Stephen: Yeah, we were confined to this small space and it was about 110 degrees—crazy hot. And the material itself was so claustrophobic as well.

Emma: We needed a location like that. It was perfect for it. But it was 30 crew members in there as well.

DO: Did you work on back stories for your characters? Emma, can you tell me how you became so demented?

Emma: [Laughs] I don’t know, do you got three hours? I don’t even know where to start. I think it started from a very young age. And this love story that started between John and Evelyn’s dependency on each other from 13 years of age.

Stephen Curry as John White and Emma Booth as his wife Evelyn.

Stephen: Yeah, that’s what it is. I think he was a slightly older kid. He might have been 17 or 18 and he found this Evelyn, this metaphor of a bird with a broken wing, that he took under his wing and from that moment on provided Evelyn with the supposed love that she needed. But it was all only an affectation because he’s a sociopath.

DO: When did Evelyn have her two kids taken away to go live with their father?

Emma: She basically just left them for John. He kept manipulating her saying, “We’ll get the kids soon.” Although Evelyn and John met at thirteen, it was a kind of on and off relationship. So, Evelyn is just holding onto the hope that she’s gonna get the kids back. She’s trying to just appease John the whole time. He’s so obsessed, and she’s so reliant on John that she’d do anything for him. She gave up everything. What she ended up with was a devastating existence.

DO: Ashleigh, your character’s mother had an incredible instinct where she could just feel you. Then there was that scene—a great nod to Silence of the Lambs.

Stephen: Oh yeah. Absolutely.

DO: Did Ben Young do that as dark humor?

Stephen: I don’t know if it was necessarily dark humor but Ben has said many times that film is one of his favorites and he wanted to pay homage to it. But we don’t want to give too much away!

DO: Ashleigh, in one scene your character’s boyfriend doesn’t walk towards you. It was while you’re hugging your mom. Did he do that out of respect, to give your characters a private moment, or was he just too freaked out?

Ashleigh: A little bit of both. I’m not sure if you see it, but when we were shooting, the dad collapses and the boyfriend stays to comfort him. But also, I think it was out of respect.

DO: A boyfriend can have this weird macho feeling that he should have protected his girlfriend. Was it partly that?

Ashleigh: Maybe. That’s a question for Harrison. He’s a brilliant actor. He’s a very thoughtful and sensitive person and might have built all that into it.

DO: Stephen, was there a back story for John’s parents—to show how you become such an evil, no empathy kind of guy?

Stephen: I did a lot of study on sociopaths. Ben and I agreed that John received their love but any kind of “love” that he had received was an affectation. That’s all he ever knew. So, that fed his desire for power and control and a need to assume a hierarchy because he never received it as a child.

DO: I imagined John’s upbringing like Charles Manson’s, whose mother had him when she was a 16-year-old prostitute. Or like serial killer Henry Lee Lucas; his prostitute mother had sex with her “johns” in front of Lucas. Was John’s story similar, which might help explain why he hated women so much?

Stephen: Certainly, John felt like he never had control over his life. He saw anything that happened to him as a slight. He thought life was unfair and that no child should have to go through what he did. Thereby, even his sense of order, his need for control, emotionally and physically, and his OCD, made him need everything to be “right.” He even orchestrated it so Evelyn was doing the scouting and kidnapping for him. She is creating this order that he is orchestrating. He sees it as “allowing” Evelyn to be his slave.

DO: Emma, what was it like for you when you got off work and went back to your life?

Emma: Stephen would snap Ashleigh and me out of that stuff. There’s so much love between us that we’d just hug goodbye afterwards. There was an exhaustion, though, from bringing up that much emotional stuff all day. I’d go home and just stare at the wall and my husband would be like, “Hello? Are you there?” I’d be like, “Darling, please don’t talk to me.” I’d just sit there so tired but so wired.

Ashleigh: Yes, it tired and wired simultaneously.

Emma: It was bizarre but I wasn’t tortured.

Ashleigh: I was.

DO: I would’ve been.

Emma: What does that say about me? [Laughs]

Ashleigh: For me it was because I was playing the victim. Just knowing that there were other girls who had been in that situation. We were telling this story and I could feel them telling theirs, and fighting for their rights. I don’t know how to stop that kind of pain and torture. That was awful and I had to very consciously consider the notion of creation in the face of such devastation. That was the only thing that kind of got me through. I’d get very apocalyptic with my thoughts, quickly. I was like, “Look at all this pain in the world,” and it just expanded to a bigger picture thing.

DO: Wow, great answer. Now, about the title, “Hounds of Love,” was that because Emma was in love even though it was a very sick love? Was she a hound of love? Or was it because John was feeding the victims to their hound? Or was it a reference to the beginning of the film, when Ashleigh is struggling with her parent’s divorce and her father gives her a puppy as a way to express love?

Emma: It’s from the Kate Bush song.

Ashleigh: It’s about predators and prey, and the reference of the dog.

Stephen: And it’s a reference of the hound bought as a substitute for Evelyn’s children.

DO: Right, and those lyrics could be about Vicki: running in the night…afraid of what might be. Hiding in the dark, in the street. Totally interesting analyzing that song, and the psychology in the movie. I could talk to you guys all day long about this movie. It was my favorite at Tribeca Film Festival this year.

Emma: We love that.

DO: So many other would’ve overacted and none of you did. It could’ve really been ruined by that.

Emma: We were so careful.

Ashleigh: And Ben was amazing in orchestrating that and we kept talking about it.

Emma: For Stephen’s character, I don’t think there could be a more perfect person to play it. There’s so much power in silence. There were times when he actually took that to extremes. He just did nothing and it was terrifying.

Stephen: I’d forgotten a lot of that stuff. [Laughs]

Ashleigh: It’s so hard to do nothing.

Emma: It is! But that’s everything and it takes balls. You’re like, “Am I doing enough? Giving enough?”

Stephen: Clearly you gave it your all. Superb performances. What’s it been like to get all these awards and all this attention?

Stephen: Kind of surreal.

Ashleigh: So flattering.

Hounds of Love is now playing in select theaters and available online. Crime, Drama, Suspense, Thriller. 108 minutes. 

Terrifying serial killer John White (Stephen Curry).

Hounds of Love
song lyrics by Kate Bush
© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

It’s in the trees
It’s coming

When I was a child
Running in the night
Afraid of what might be

Hiding in the dark
Hiding in the street
And of what was following me

Now hounds of love are hunting
I’ve always been a coward
And I don’t know what’s good for me

Here I go
It’s coming for me through the trees
Help me someone
Help me please

Take my shoes off
And throw them in the lake
And I’ll be
Two steps on the water

I found a fox
Caught by dogs
He let me take him in my hands

His little heart
It beats so fast
And I’m ashamed of running away

From nothing real
I just can’t deal with this
But I’m still afraid to be there

Among your hounds of love
And feel your arms surround me
I’ve always been a coward
And never know what’s good for me

Oh here I go
Don’t let me go
Hold me down
It’s coming for me through the trees
Help me darling
Help me please

Take my shoes off
And throw them in the lake
And I’ll be
Two steps on the water

I don’t know what’s good for me
I don’t know what’s good for me
I need your love love love love love yeah
Your love

Take your shoes off
And throw them in the lake

Do you know what I really need?
Do you know what I really need?
I need love love love love love yeah

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Surge, cinema’s first out gay superhero, rocks it with his new star-studded movie, Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel directed by Antonio Lexerot and Vincent J. Roth.

Surge is back with over 50 stars. Laugh at zany antics from Big City to Las Vegas, enjoy familiar celebrities, and learn how intolerance can make you evil.

Watch the Trailer:

Vincent J. Roth, the film’s producer, describes the movie as fun entertainment with a clear message.

“As a filmmaker, I am compelled to present our genuinely groundbreaking characters and the fun world we created to a mainstream audience.”

The movie’s inspirational tagline, “Make a Difference Where You Can,” is the moral of the story. But to get there, evil and skullduggery must be dealt with heroically and hilariously.

In the Beginning

It has been over 10 years since cinema’s first gay out superhero movie, Surge of Power: The Stuff of Heroes, premiered. Fans have long awaited the sequel of this campy movie with a message. The sequel is an homage to superhero movies and an irreverent send-up of the genre. Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel has been well received by mainstream audiences. Viewers young and old have been laughing and cheering during its initial screenings. Fans love the cameo appearances of favorite actors and characters. The inside jokes add to the sublime movie experience—with special treats for the attentive sci-fi geek.

In the Sequel

Surge’s nemesis, Metal Master, struggles with his estranged parents (Linda Blair and Gil Gerard) and is tempted to continue a life of crime by Augur (Eric Roberts), arch enemy of Omen (Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols and Robert Picardo), the sage superhero from the first Surge of Power movie. A host of other recognizable stars help Surge deliver the message that good triumphs over evil. Amid the laughs, Blair and Gerard are the heart of the movie, poignantly portraying Metal Master’s parents. They struggle with their homophobia and have to face the negative effects it has had on their family—including their son-turned-supervillain.

What Reviewers are Saying

“A leap forward for superhero films.”

“A positive role model in the LGBTQ community.”

“A film everyone can enjoy.”

“Pretty awesome”

“A Must See!”

In this story, we see Surge travel from his Big City home to Las Vegas in an effort to stop his nemesis, Metal Master from destroying Hoover Dam while on a quest for mysterious crystals for Augur. Surge enlists local friends and even Vegas headliner, Frank Marino to help find his way, which results in the inevitable battle. The skirmish forces Augur to emerge from the shadows, causing Omen to join in the struggle. Their epic confrontation awakens The Council, a league of retired supervillains. To battle this new threat Omen must call on her vigilant team. Find out what happens next with cinema’s first out gay superhero when legendary heroes and villains clash in this comical, star-studded movie!

The seventh screening of the Surge of Power sequel will take place on Saturday, May 20 from at 2:00 to 4:00 pm as a featured event at Joss Whedon’s sci-fi convention, WhedonCon, at Warner Center Marriott, 21850 Oxnard St., Woodland Hills, CA 91367 in the Screening Room. Other screenings and more information may be found on the movie’s website, Surge of Power screenings.

Comedy. 90 min. Los Angeles premiere.

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Tribeca Film Festival

Tribeca Film Festival’s feature narrative, One Percent More Humid, premiered last night in Chelsea at the SVA Theater. The haunting coming-of-age story centers on two childhood friends on a break from college who reunite in their New England hometown. It’s a sweltering, sticky summer, hence the title. Iris (Juno Temple) and Catherine (Julia Garner) find relief in the cooling waters of the local lake.

juno temple
Juno Temple as Iris in ‘One Percent More Humid’
Julia Garner
Julia Garner ©2015 Dorri Olds

It soon becomes clear that their seemingly carefree skinny-dipping at the beautiful secluded spot, runs deeper. Iris and Catherine are obviously troubled. Sensitively written and directed by Liz W. Garcia, the town and its characters are so palpable, filled with realistic details. I felt like she intimately knew this world.

“I grew up in Ridgefield, Connecticut,” said Garcia, “and was haunted by events in that town. I wrote One Percent to get these characters out of their dilemma.”

The beauty of this indie is its slow reveal. Under Garcia’s direction, the camera zeros in on hints, telling the story through breadcrumb snippets. In one scene, the two actresses subtly convey a hint of sabatoging their well-being. Iris, chain-smoking, confides to Catherine that she’s having amazing sex.

But, instead of bubbly, she’s under pressure. The weight is knowing the affair is ill-advised. “I’m seeing my thesis advisor. I’m sleeping with him. He’s married.” Her professor is played by the magnetic Italian actor Alessandro Nivola.

In another scene we witness Catherine, drunk, in a bar, throwing herself at the brother of what we learn later is an important connection. But eventually, the viewer discovers he’s manipulating Catherine to garner information that will sink her.

Details of the girls’ shared grief boils to the surface, and we see that this is more than typical college-aged angst. They are wading into a torrential storm of self-destruction. Every action they take—pot, pills, alcohol, obsessive sex—is an attempt to feel better. They’re numbing themselves because they can find no absolution for guilt that rains down on them.

One Percent More Humid is one of the fine offerings by women directors this year. Through the storytelling, Garcia gifts us with what’s lacking in so many blockbusters: the woman’s perspective. Temple and Garner rise to the level of A-list performers; they’re effervescent and make it look effortless.


Sun., April 23, 4:15pm, Cinepolis Chelsea 03

Mon., April 24, 7:45pm, Cinepolis Chelsea 01

Tues., April 25, 10pm, Regal Battery Park Theater 11

Drama, 98 min.

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The 2017 Tribeca Film Festival begins Wednesday, April 19 and runs through Sunday, April 30. This is the 16th year of awe-inspiring offerings. Many thanks go to co-founders Jane Rosenthal and Robert De Niro for this long-standing celebration of New York City, movies, media, and activism.

The festival is known for its exquisite mix of pure entertainment and searing documentaries. Jane Rosenthal said, “You have to remember, the festival started as a way to help our community after 9/11 and to bring people together and to bring a community together. That kind of activism is the DNA of this festival, not just of us as individuals.”

Jane Rosenthal
TFF cofounder Jane Rosenthal. Photo by Dorri Olds.

Ever since its inception, Rosenthal has championed the power of women by showcasing their work. Not only are there 25 female jurors this year, but out of 98 festival selections, 32 are helmed by female filmmakers. There has never been a more important time for solidarity among women.

Highlights of 2017 TFF Feature Films Directed By Women

For showtimes click on film titles
juno temple

One Percent More Humid Iris (Juno Temple) and Catherine (Julia Garner), are overwhelmed with grief after a shared tragedy. They turn to using sex like a drug to numb out and spin out into self-destruction. The movie was written and directed by Liz W. Garcia.

Flames Real-life couple, filmmaker Josephine Decker and artist Zefrey Throwell, filmed their romantic relationship over a five-year period. Movie viewers experience the pair during their giddy in love phase and high on their creative juices. Viewers watch the couple’s sexual encounters, knowing there is another woman in the room, she is off-screen but recording every intimate detail through her camera. It’s an eerie and fascinating concept to watch a relationship from its gleeful beginning to its soured end.


Blame This is 22-year-old writer-director Quinn Shephard’s feature debut. She also plays the starring role of emotionally unstable Abigail who lands the lead in class for Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Mean girl Melissa Bowman (Nadia Alexander) is pissed. The substitute drama teacher (Chris Messina) notices the hostile classroom environment and steps in to rally for vulnerable Abigail. The timing is tricky, though. The teacher’s marriage is strained, leaving him shaky, too.

Hedy Lamarr

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story Written and directed by Alexandra Dean, this is a new look at a Hollywood legend. Although known for her beauty, she had an incredible mind. Through the film we learn about her inventions, including a secret communication system for the Allies to beat the Nazis. She never received credit for her engineering innovations.

Mariska Hargitay

I Am Evidence Every year in America, thousands of rape kits containing DNA evidence are left untested by police. Over 175,000 kits have been uncovered. Only eight states (Georgia, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York) have passed laws requiring that rape kits be tested by police. As a result, decades worth of kits have been shelved, the cases are unsolved and the perps are free. Directed by Trish Adlesic and produced by Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order SVU’s Olivia Benson.Warning

Warning: This Drug May Kill You This timely documentary by Perri Peltz takes an unflinching look at the devastating effects of addiction through the stories of four families whose lives have been decimated by addictions that began with prescriptions to pain meds.

To keep up TFF2017 highlights, follow @DorriOlds and #Tribeca2017.


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2017 TFF Godfather

Update: Tribeca Film Festival The Godfather Reunion was magical.

Diane Keaton, James Caan, Francis Ford Coppola, Al Pacino, Talia Shire, Robert Duvall and Robert De Niro reunited at Radio City Music Hall, NYC

Tribeca Film Festival in the 16th year of the annual cultural movie marathon festival, announced the program’s big closer. On Saturday, April 29, movie lovers will be treated to a celebration of the 45th anniversary since The Godfather hit theaters. There will be back-to-back screenings of the The Godfather and The Godfather Part II at Radio City Music Hall. An all-star panel will follow the screenings. The discussion will include Hollywood gold including director Academy Award®-winning director Francis Ford Coppola and A-list actors Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, and Robert De Niro. Beyond our wildest dreams for us cinephiles.

Following this once-in-a-lifetime cast reunion at the Tribeca Film Festival in celebration of the 45th anniversary of The Godfather, Paramount will release all three films in the epic crime saga on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD May 9th.

The discs include hours of bonus content, including commentary by Francis Ford Coppola on all three films, as well as fascinating behind-the-scenes features on the unlikely events, intrigue, allegiances and luck that put together the unknown director with the “unwanted” cast.  The special features also explore the film’s enduring influence on popular culture, the impact of the locations and music, interviews with the filmmakers and cast, a Corleone family tree and historical timeline, photo galleries, storyboards and much, much more.



Al Pacino

Actor and director Al Pacino was born in East Harlem and grew up in New York City’s South Bronx. He attended the School of Performing Arts until he moved on to study acting at the Herbert Berghof Studio with Charles Laughton, and later, at the Actors Studio with Lee Strasberg. His first leading part in a feature film was in the 1971 drama Panic in Needle Park. The following year, Francis Ford Coppola selected him to take on the breakthrough role of Michael Corleone in The Godfather, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award®.

Robert Duvall

A leading man since the 1960s, Robert Duvall has specialized in driven characters of all types. Respected by his peers and adored by audiences worldwide, he has earned numerous Oscar® nominations for his performances in The Judge, The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, The Great Santini and The Apostle. Duvall won the Academy Award® and a Golden Globe® as Best Actor for his role in Tender Mercies. In addition, he has received Golden Globe® Awards for his performances in the title role of HBO’s Stalin as well as for his memorable turns in Apocalypse Now and Lonesome Dove.

Robert De Niro

Robert De Niro launched his motion picture career in Brian De Palma’s The Wedding Party in 1969. In 1974, De Niro won the Academy Award® for Best Supporting Actor for The Godfather, Part II. In 1980 he won his second Oscar®, as Best Actor, for Raging Bull. De Niro has also received five Academy Award nominations for his work including Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter, and Silver Linings Playbook. In 2009, De Niro was the recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors. De Niro takes pride in his production company, Tribeca Productions, the Tribeca Film Center, (which he founded with Jane Rosenthal in 1988,) and in the Tribeca Film Festival, which he founded with Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff. Tribeca’s A Bronx Tale in 1993 marked De Niro’s directorial debut and in 2016 he directed Tribeca’s The Good Shepherd.

James Caan

One of the most versatile actors in film, James Caan is best known for his Academy Award® nominated performance as Sonny Corleone in The Godfather and for his Emmy®-nominated portrayal of football star Brian Piccalo in Brian’s Song. Appearing in more than 50 movies, Caan also earned great recognition starring in Rob Reiner’s critically acclaimed film Misery; and For The Boys, co-starring Bette Midler. He was equally praised for his performance as a brain damaged football star in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Rain People. Caan made his directorial debut and starred in the critically acclaimed film Hide In Plain Sight.

Francis Ford Coppola

Francis Ford Coppola was born in Detroit and grew up in Queens, NY. After graduating from Hofstra and UCLA, he worked as screenwriter, film director, and producer. He is a five-time Academy Award® winner. His film credits include Patton, The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, The Conversation, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Francis has also been producing wine for over 35 years at his Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley wineries. His other business interests include luxury resorts in Central America, Argentina, and Italy, and an award-winning short story magazine, Zoetrope: All-Story. Francis’s current interest is in a new from of entertainment he calls Live Cinema, being a combination of theater, film, and television. He is presently working on a long-form screenplay he hopes to produce in this new medium.

Taylor Hackford

Taylor Hackford was the director of the Academy Award® winning films Ray and An Officer and a Gentleman. In addition, he helmed the beloved features Against All Odds, The Devil’s Advocate, Dolores Claiborne, and Blood In, Blood Out. Hackford most recently directed Robert De Niro in The Comedian. His feature documentary work is equally acclaimed, with Chuck Berry: Hail!, Hail! Rock n’ Roll and When We Were Kings, a behind-the-scenes look at the legendary 1974 bout between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, which won for Best Documentary Feature. He has served two terms as president of the Directors Guild of America.

Talia Shire

Talia Shire comes from a family of artists. The Yale drama school alum has appeared in over fifty movies and television shows, received two Academy Award® nominations, and won the NY Film Critics Award for her performance in Rocky (1976). She and her husband Jack Schwartzman independently financed and produced several movies among them Never Say Never Again (1983) and Rad (1986) whose sequel is currently in development. In 1994 she directed One Night Stand. In 1994 Jack Schwartzman died. In 1997 she was one of several producers on the Tony nominated play “Golden Child.” Family is at the center of her life. Talia’s children continue on in the same tradition of theatre and film. Her two step children John Schwartzman (Cinematographer) and Stephanie Schwartzman (Artist), her son Matthew Shire (Writer/Producer), Jason Schwartzman (Actor/Musician/Writer/Director/Producer), & Robert Schwartzman (Actor/Musician/Director/Producer).

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ASJA conference

American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) Annual Writers Conference • Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan
45 East 45th Street at Madison Avenue

Saturday, May 6 • Day 2

I will be on two panels this year at the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) annual writers conference. The first is on Friday, May 5 at 2:45. Its topic is “Using Smartphones To Tell Stories.” My second panel will be on Saturday, May 6. It’s titled “Tackling Tough Topics.”


In this workshop, moderated by ASJA member Candy Arrington with panelists Dorri Olds, Rudri Patel and Sharon Van Epps, writers will learn methods to craft tough topics through the power of story. We will be providing practical suggestions for coping and moving forward, and writing with a level of transparency that touches hearts and inspires hope.

Though many writers feel compelled to write about a difficult life circumstance, loss, or grief, it’s important to know how to structure content, what to include and what to omit. In writing tough topics, you have the opportunity to reach those who are hurting, feel alienated and alone, and are searching for ways to heal their pain. No matter what the situation, there are common threads that reach across gender, cultural, and ethical barriers to foster hope and healing.

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