The independent television movement is taking Hollywood by storm with high quality post sound companies and now celebrities, too, jumping on board. James Cromwell stars and Executive Produces Hitfactor; John Leguizamo and Nick Cannon both lend their talents to the hip-hop theater documentary Something Out of Nothing and Jodie Sweetin stars in the dark comedy about suicide, Small Bits of Happiness. Even Jason Priestly, Emily Procter (CSI Miami), and French Stewart show off their independent wares as part of this year’s Indy television fare. Among this well known figures is also the Greek-American actor Terry Maratos and “Drived”, his new independent show. “Drived” is about the unpredictable life of being a chauffer in Los Angeles and what happens when people’s ambitions are thwarted by the realities they face. The first screening was today, Saturday, at 5pm at Laemmle’s Sunset 5 Theater at 8000 Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood. There will also be another screening on the 6th at 9pm at the same location.
In addition to ITVFest’s Independent Pilot and Web series Competition, the festival also offers a variety of panels and discussions with iconic talents such as Marshall Herskovitz, Bob Odenkirk, Mike Scully (The Simpsons), Dan Sterling (Sarah Silverman Program) and Phil Lord & Chris Miller (How I Met Your Mother). Reps from New Wave Entertainment, Brillstein-Grey, ABC, Sci Fi and others will also be on hand.
ITVFest is a non-profit organization with the mission of providing opportunities to people with television industry aspirations. ITVFest receives pilot submissions from around the world in comedy, drama, alternative (reality, game show, talk show, etc) documentary, web series and out-of-competition categories. By screening the official selections to a live audience, which includes ITVFest’s executive, advisory board and extensive network contacts, ITVFest provides a bridge to the inner workings of the television industry.
Remember Trista and Ryan, the famous couple who met on ABC’s “The Bachelorette” reality show? Trista Rehn had been dumped by Alex Michel in the final rose ceremony on the first season of “The Bachelor” in 2003. Since the fans sympathised with Trista and liked her so much, ABC offered Trista the chance to turn the tables and star in “The Bachelorette” and become the one doing the dumping.
History is repeating itself again with the latest woman to star in this season’s “The Bachelorette”, and this time it is an attractive 26-year-old Greek-American from Georgia named DeAnna Pappas. DeAnna is a real estate agent who comes across as assertive, independent and adventurous. DeAnna appeared on a previous season of “The Bachelor” and was heartbroken at the final rose ceremony when bachelor Brad did not pick her, and surprisingly, did not pick the other finalist either.
Neither DeAnna nor the fans could understand why Brad was not able to commit to a relationship with DeAnna, who he admittedly had feelings for. On the “After the Final Rose” show, Brad told DeAnna: “I think you of all people deserve the kind of guy that’s gonna look you in the eye and tell you everything you told me — that you’re so in love with me, that he wants you to have his children… I just think you’re so deserving of this guy that… 100% knows that this is [for] a lifetime.”
During the summer of 2008, everyone got to watch as DeAnna narrowed down her selection of single men from week to week. DeAnna shared how she lost her mother at an early age, and was very close with her family. She wanted to find someone who felt that family was important, would be committed to their relationship and be able to share his feelings with her.
The obvious choice was a single father named Jason, a 31-year-old Account Executive from Washington State. He was raising his young son alone after a failed marriage and was yearning to find love again. The odds seemed in his favor. In the final rose ceremony, he was up against Jesse, a 25-year-old professional snowboarder from Colorado.
Jesse stuck out from the rest of the bachelors from the start. DeAnna commented about Jesse’s eccentricity on Los Angeles’ KTLA Morning News show: “He came out of the limo, and I was like [sarcastically] ‘Wow, you got all dressed up for me.’ And then, he’s that guy — once you sit down and talk to him, I realized that he’s a really great person. We have a lot of things in common, so that’s why he got that second first-impression rose.”
And while Jesse admits he thought he would be asked to go home at every rose ceremony, he kept his cool and week after week pursued more of a friendship with DeAnna. “I thought grease the hair down, look like a total kook, and if she keeps me around it’s ’cause she got to know me and she looked through that exterior,” Jesse says. “And I spent a lot of time becoming her friend. I wasn’t the guy trying to, you know, get all up on her. I was just becoming her friend and getting to know her.”
Well, it seemed to work! While Jason seemed to have great husband potential, the relationship between DeAnna and Jesse was slowly evolving into the real thing. As Brad had predicted, DeAnna was better off with someone that was committed to her 100%. When Jesse proposed, he asked DeAnna, “Will you spend forever with me?” And DeAnna, who broke up with Jason just moments before in the final rose ceremony, gave Jesse an ecstatic answer of “Yes!”
Many viewers may be skeptical that this relationship will last due to the track record of previous “Bachelor” contestants. The only bachelor/bachelorette to have made it down the aisle with the partner they picked on the show is Trista Rehn, now Trista Sutter, who met Ryan Sutter on the Bachelorette 2003 season when she, like DeAnna, was doing the choosing. Trista and Ryan’s 2003 wedding was televised on ABC and Trista gave birth to their first son in 2007.
DeAnna commented about the path that led her to “The Bachelorette”: “Every break-up makes you stronger as a person. Every thing happens for a reason and I am very, very thankful for that… I believe in the show. I believe in the concept of the show and that it is for real, it does happen. I can’t help it that it didn’t happen for Brad, but it happened for me.” DeAnna and Jesse’s wedding is set for May 9, 2009.
LOS ANGELES—Tickets have gone on sale for this September’s upcoming production of Agamemnon in the Getty Villa’s outdoor Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater. For this open-air staging, acclaimed director Stephen Wadsworth resurrects Aeschylus’ unsettling domestic drama of The House of Atreus, as told in a riveting translation by the late Robert Fagles.
Agamemnon, the first play of the Oresteia trilogy, tells the story of King Agamemnon of Mycenae, who returns home to Argos after spending ten long years away in the bloody Trojan War, only to face the wrath of his adulterous queen, Clytemnestra. As the drama unfolds, a returning soldier bears witness to unthinkable carnage, a city questions the wisdom of a decade-long war, and a family turns the violence of war in on itself.
Director Stephen Wadsworth has brought his witty, passionate, visually evocative reimaginings of plays and operas by Molière, Wagner, Handel, Mozart, Shaw, Wilde, Coward, and other greats to astonished audiences throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Renowned translator Robert Fagles, who passed away earlier this year, tackled the works of Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Homer during his lifetime. His translations were not only critically acclaimed, but became bestsellers that captured the public’s imagination.
Agamemnon will be presented on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, September 4-27, 2008 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $38 ($32 students/seniors). To purchase tickets and for additional information call 310-440-7300 or visit www.getty.edu.
Returning to the FX Network for its seventh and final season this September is The Shield, an hour-long police-drama.The Shield is about a Los Angeles Police Department anti-gang unit willing to do whatever it takes, even immoral acts, to get the job done.The show stars the Greek-American actor Michael Chiklis, known also for his role as “The Thing” in the Fantastic Four movies.
Chiklis was born in Lowell Massachusetts in 1963 to Charlie and Kate Chiklis.His father ran a hair salon and his mother worked in a hospital.Charlie Chiklis was a second-generation Greek-American whose family hailed from the island of Lesbos.
Chiklis began acting as a child and later received his degree from the Boston University College of Fine Arts.He was in multiple projects over the years, including starring as John Belushi in the biopic Wired and starring on another television show, The Commish.When The Commish ended, Chiklis sought to reinvent his image which led to his starring role on The Shield, which debuted in 2002.
The Shield premiered to critical acclaim and success.In 2002, Chiklis won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.In 2003, Chiklis won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series.That same year, The Shield won the Golden Globe for Best Television Series – Drama.
In 2005, Chiklis starred in Fantastic Four as “The Thing,” opposite Jessica Alba, Ioan Gruffudd and Chris Evans.The sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer came out in 2007.Chiklis has been hailed for his performances in these movies, though the overall reception for the Fantastic Four series has been less than stellar.
Chiklis is also reported to have a role in the upcoming film Eagle Eye, starring Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan and Billy Bob Thornton, due out in September.
Chiklis is proud of his Greek Heritage, often traveling to his house in Lesbos, attending his Greek Orthodox Church services and encouraging his daughters to learn the language and the culture of Greece.
To see more of Chiklis in action, make sure to catch Eagle Eye, in theatres September 26, and the seventh season premiere of The Shield, debuting September 2.
While being a woman with a thick foreign accent may intimidate most from a career as a political commentator in the U.S., Arianna Huffington does not let that hold her back, which is evident when she appears on shows like CNN’s Larry King Live and HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher. The author of 12 books, a syndicated columnist, and the creator of The Huffington Post political blog knows she must put her fear aside to stand up for what she believes in.
She was born Arianna Stassinopoulos in Athens in 1950. As a young woman, she attended Cambridge University in England, and encountered ridicule and criticism due to her heavy Greek accent while debating in the famed Cambridge Union Society. As a result, she learned to speak fearlessly in public and became the president of Cambridge Union in 1971. She graduated with a Master’s degree in Economics in 1972.
She started writing books soon after including biographies on Maria Callas and Pablo Picasso. She lived in London and was involved with Bernard Levin, a columnist for the London Times, until 1980 when she moved to the United States.
Her latest book, Right Is Wrong: How the Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded the Constitution, and Made Us All Less Safe published in 2008, cements her transition from a political conservative to a liberal. In 1986, she married oil millionaire Michael Huffington who was elected to Congress in 1992 as a Republican from California. She campaigned for her husband in the early 1990s supporting the Republican stance on most issues. However, after their divorce in 1997, Arianna, who kept her married name, started leaning more toward the political left.
In 2003, she ran as an independent candidate against Arnold Schwarzeneeger to replace California Governer Gray Davis in the recall election, but dropped out of the race just a week before the election. In 2004, she published a book called Pigs at the Trough: How Corporate Greed and Political Corruption Are Undermining America, which attacked the wealthy CEOs of American companies. She describes herself as a “former right-winger who has evolved into a compassionate and progressive populist.”
Over the years, Huffington has appeared on several radio and television talk shows. She was a co-host of the NPR program, Left, Right & Center. She currently co-hosts the radio show, 7 Days in America, on Air America Radio with Mark Green.
Her liberal blog, The Huffington Post, was launched in 2005 as a news and commentary outlet and features postings from a number of prominent journalists, public officials, and celebrities. It is considered one of the most influential political blogs in the world. Huffington and her co-founder, former AOL executive Kenneth Lerer, recently announced that they will be launching “HuffPost Green”, a site division specific to environmental or “green” content.
In her recent book, On Becoming Fearless …in Love, Work and Life, Huffington says that too many women sacriice their personal truth so they won’t “rock the boat.” She hopes to instill in her two teenage daughters how to overcome fear and become ambitious and assertive, which she was inspired to do herself by her own mother. In 2006, she was named to the “Time 100”, Time Magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people.
During the successful showcasing of the independent film“Searching for Bobby D” among the predominantly Italian cast and crew was the “behind the scenes” key crew member the Director of Photography George Mitas. The film, which featured some of the top names in the business, made a good run and left its mark in the independent film world. George, of Greek background and not a stranger to mob flicks (the Director of Photography on “This Thing of Ours”) blended in perfectly with director-producer Paul Borghese. The film, which developed a good turn out at every screening, has received a number of film awards. Being in the film business for the past 15 years George has made some impressive strides. A graduate of NYU George always found being behind the camera was the place to be. “I always enjoyed the creativity involved in photography and the possibilities are endless.” His first feature film was distributed by Miramax,” Lying Down with Dogs” in 1995, this was his first real taste of narrative filmmaking. George tried to explain that, after NYU George he had the pleasure of working along with Woody Allen. As a production assistant he recalls how Woody Allen would re-shoot scenes sometimes as much as twenty times to get it the way he wanted it. “Like me Woody is a creative person who just likes to get it right.” George attributes his style of shooting to directors like Orson Wells and Alfred Hitchcock. “I utilize a lot of their techniques in my work.” Many people do not understand what the director of photography does. “It is an interesting question what do I do. I am in some ways the right hand man to the director. There are times where I have to alter the script because of environmental issues. We may need to change the scene or the day of the shoot. Sometimes the actors may not like my plans but it is for the good of the film. Working with Paul Borghese was great we connected well and made a fun film. It is all about the camera that most people do not realize that. Our day is not a 9-5 day it is sometimes 12-16 hour day. Every minute is valuable. The director directs the actors I direct the camera in the hopes of capturing the directors vision.” George landed his spot on “Searching for Bobby D” from his past work on the mob flick “ This Thing Of Ours” which starred Vincent Pastore (The Sopranos) and Frank Vincent (The Sopranos, Goodfellas etc.) to name a few. Paul recognized George’s work and requested his talents.
George’s background was first in music videos, which appeared on MTV but he was always interested on film. His first feature was with Wally White called “Lying down With Dogs” which was distributed by Miramax. Even though it seemed like a big break for George with his first feature it was still a struggle. “You devote your time and effort into a project and always strive for more and hopefully you get there.” Working on the “This Thing of Ours” with writer, director and producer Danny Provenzano was an experience to say the least. Even though, at times on the set there were many “wise-guy” characters around George worked very well with Danny Provenzano. The film was the spring- board to his recent work “Searching for Bobby D”. Working on independent films, George admits, is always an enjoyable experience. “You never know what to expect. Working with Louie Vanaria was great he really offered the true meaning to improvisation.” George also travels between California and New Jersey many times in the year for business. In California he has worked a few times with director Justin Hixon from Video Box. He directed the video “Hey Jealousy” by Jim Blossoms, which George was the cameraman. Since his work on “Hey Jealousy” he has become a part of Justin’s production team. Besides taking on feature films and music videos George also shot promos for ABC. He also worked closely with Adam Cohen a well-known name in the TV industry. Adam Cohen was the head creative on Pontiac campaign introducing of the “Vibe”, the commercials aired during the Super-Bowl. This was his first car commercial but unfortunately the second day of shooting was interrupted by 9/11. There was always one project that George wanted to tackle on a personal level. He wanted to give back to the Greek community by filming a documentary on the trials and tribulations of the priesthood. He offered his idea to his priest, Father George Orphanakos (from Clifton, NJ) who is presently retired. But his plan never came to fruition. Father Orphanakos told George that it would be hard to accomplish among a growing bureaucracy. “I still would hope to be able to contribute something to the Greek community who has offered me so much. If I can help some other Greek out, why not? It is important to help each other if possible.” When it comes to the quality of a film, George supports the theory that a film should not be judged just by its content or by its cinematography but by both aspects. “I only feel comfortable if both are up to par. It seems the older I get the better I have become and the more desirable I am to shoot major feature films.” On the horizon George has projects slated to shoot with Paul Borghese and Danny Provenzano. If the project is worthy of tackling George will make another mark in the field of cinematography.
Quincy Jones calls him “An icon of the American popular music industry.” Nicknamed “the legend of Broadway”, William “PoPsie” Randolph was Broadway’s most famous jazz and rock photographer from 1945 to 1975. He documented the transformation of popular music from jazz and big band music to rock and roll and rhythm and blues. He photographed everyone from Benny Goodman and Billie Holiday to Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones.
PoPsie was born William Sezenias to Greek immigrant parents in New York City in 1920. Being exposed to musicians through early jobs as a towel boy and shoeshine boy, PoPsie was attracted to the entertainment lifestyle and became a manager of swing era bands in the 1930s. He worked his way up to become Benny Goodman’s band manager. Benny and PoPsie had a very close relationship, acting like brothers. PoPsie was even featured in the movie Sweet and Lowdown which starred Benny Goodman in 1944. His character was played by actor Jack Oakie.
By the mid-1940s, PoPsie had married a showgirl and was ready to settle down in New York. He told Benny Goodman that he was interested in photography and Goodman gave him his first camera as a wedding gift. With his connections in the music business, PoPsie built up an impressive clientele of photography subjects.
PoPsie spent his career as a photographer on the streets of New York City at recording studios, jam sessions, concert halls and nightclubs. He was a huge music fan and spent hours and hours taking portraits of musicians and singers at his photography studio on Broadway near the Brill building. His photos appeared frequently in Billboard, Record World and Rolling Stone magazines.
How did William Sezenias become William “PoPsie” Randolph? William got his nickname “PoPsie” during one of his early jobs at a nightclub. The Greek waiters were not happy with how loud PoPsie was and used to tell him “Popsie vreh!” meaning “Shut up!” or “Pipe down!”. The bandsmen heard this and started calling him “PoPsie” and the name stuck.
In Chicago in 1945, PoPsie was working with Benny Goodman’s band serving as their manager. The band was playing at the Chicago Theatre and PoPsie had to make hotel reservations in a hurry, so he went outside the theater to a phone booth to call the hotel. Tired of spelling out his Greek last name to the operator, he looked up to see the Randolph Street sign and said his last name was “Randolph.”
PoPsie’s son, Michael, recalls tagging along with his father to all the major TV studios in New York to photograph guests on shows like American Bandstand and The Ed Sullivan Show. With an office located in the heart of New York’s entertainment district, Popsie was available to capture spontaneous moments on film as well, like Frank Sinatra at Sardi’s restaurant or Barbra Streisand during the recording of Funny Girl.
PoPsie decided to retire in the 1970s to Arizona. However, he died soon after relocating in 1978 at the early age of 57. Thirty years after his death, PoPsie’s son, Michael Randolph, has published a book of PoPsie’s photography called PoPsie NY: Popular Music through the Camera Lens of William “PoPsie” Randolph. The book features highlights from the 100,000 negatives PoPsie left behind when he died. For more information about PoPsie, visit http://www.popsiephotos.com/
By Jim Ballas In 2000, two brothers set out to make an independent film.Vlas and Charley Parlapanides created their first full-length film, “Everything for a Reason.”Vlas wrote and directed while Charley produced.They both had small roles as well.In the subsequent 8 years, they have remained rather quiet, but recently, that has changed.
It has been announced that Vlas and Charley are set to write the screenplay for the upcoming film “War of Gods.”The film is to be directed by Tarsem Singh, known for his films, “The Fall” and “The Cell.”“War of Gods” centers on a warrior in Ancient Greece who goes on a quest with the king only to find out he is the king’s son.It is rumored that the film will be shot in a similar style to “300.”
The brothers are keeping busy with other projects as well.They are currently writing a film called “Live Bet,” a heist film set in New York City.They are also creating a television show called, “Undercover.”They are also set to write a draft for the American remake of “Death Note,” a thriller that is originally from Japan.
Charley and Vlas grew up in Seaside Park, New Jersey.They were born to Greek parents, Vlas Sr., and Angeliki Parlapanides.Charley and Vlas filmed “Everything for a Reason” in their home town, and even had members of their family involved in the production, including their mother cooking for the cast and crew.These brothers may have come from humble beginnings, but they are quickly gaining the respect they deserve in Hollywood.
You might know Criss Angel as the stunning illusionist, made famous by his A&E Network television show, Criss Angel Mindfreak.
What you might not know is that Criss’s real name is Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos, and he is a famous Greek American.
Another thing you might not know is that Criss has been slated to perform with Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas this fall. The show, CRISS ANGEL Believe™ , will be an unconventional magic show that combines the distinctive imaginations and performance styles of Criss Angel and Cirque du Soleil respectively. If you have ever seen Criss Angel’s mind numbing illusions, or Cirque de Soleil’s unbelievable physical feats, you can safely say that this show is going to be something spectacular.
Before Criss Angel dazzled us with his magical prowess, he was raised in East Meadow, Long Island, New York. His interest in magic was born when he was a child, and his aunt Stella showed him a card trick. He would always ask her how she did it, and she would always tell him. Both of his parents are Greek, and his mother, who has regular appearances on Criss Angel Mindfreak, hails from Mystra, Greece.
He had also taken an early interest in music, and one of his trademarks is his combination of magic with loud, pulsating rock music. “I wanted to combine magic and music in a much grander vision that required a band, larger illusions and more equipment”, he said in an interview.
Now audiences have the opportunity to see what really goes on when preparing for one of Criss’s shows. Preview performances for CRISS ANGEL Believe will begin September 1st and run through to September 11th. During these performances the creative team will still be in the final stages of production, and the audience’s reaction and participation will be integral in determining the outcome of the actual show. These performances might be interrupted to make adjustments as necessary.
CRISS ANGEL Believe will be performed at the Luxor in Vegas on Friday through Tuesday with no shows on Wednesdays or Thursdays.
For more information about Criss Angel, and this promising show, visit his official website at www.crissangel.com.
We’ve all heard of the family of movie moguls, Warner Brothers, but how about the Skouras brothers? Charles (photo left), George and Spyros Skouras all rose from an impoverished background to become top movie executives in Hollywood during the 20th century.
The Skouras brothers emigrated from Greece to St. Louis in the early 1900s. They were the sons of a poor sheep herder from Skourohorion, Greece. They saved their money working as busboys and bartenders in downtown hotels, so that by 1914, they were able to invest in a nickelodeon theater in St. Louis. This initial property was named the Olympia and was quickly followed by the acquisition of other theaters. They owned 30 local theaters by 1924.
Five years later, they sold out to Warner Brothers and moved to the west coast. Between 1930 and 1932, Spyros(photo right) worked with Paramount, but left to save the Fox Metropolitan chain from its demise. In 1932, the Skouras Brothers took over the management of over 500 Fox-West Coast theaters.
During the 1930s, Spyros played a significant role in the merger between Fox and 20th Century Pictures. He was appointed president of the new company 20th Century Fox in 1942, and with the assistance of Darryl Zanuck, turned it into one of Hollywood’s most powerful studios. He would serve as president for the next 20 years.
During Spyros’ tenure, he worked to rescue the faltering movie industry from television– its new competitor. 20th Century Fox’s famous advertising slogan, “Movies are Better than Ever”, gained credibility in 1953 when Spyros introduced CinemaScope in the studio’s groundbreaking feature film The Robe. The CinemaScope process of wide-screen projection started a new, yet short-lived trend in colorful epic films.
Meanwhile, brother George became president of United Artists Theaters (now Regal Entertainment Group, owners of the Regal, Edwards and United Artists theater chains). While head of United Artists Theaters, George was part of the Magna Theater Corporation formed in 1953 which introduced the Todd-AO high definition wide screen film format. He died in 1964 at the age of 68.
Charles Skouras went on to become president of National Theaters which at the time owned 650 theaters across the nation. Giving back to the Greek community, Charles built the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Los Angeles which opened in 1952, a beautiful Greek church that still stands to this day. He died two years later at the age of 65.
During World War II, Spyros was head of the Greek War Relief Agency. Spyros was known throughout Hollywood to have a thick, Greek accent. Bob Hope said: “Spyros has been here twenty years but he still sounds as if he’s coming next week.”
During his reign as president of 20th Century Fox, Spyros oversaw the production of many successful movies. However, his tenure ended in 1962 after the disastrous overspending on the budget of Cleopatra, the epic starring Rex Harrison, Elizabeth Taylor, and Richard Burton. The film was originally budgeted for $2 million, but was made at a cost of $44 million. Widely regarded as one of the biggest flops of all time, the film’s box office failure almost bankrupted 20th Century Fox, and Skouras was blamed for the fiasco. He was replaced by Daryl Zanuck .
As a result, Spyros was re-assigned to the position of board chairman and his control over films was largely taken away. In 1969, he left 20th Century Fox to nurture his other investments which included his own shipping line. He died in 1971 at the age of 78.
Ironically, Cleopatra recouped its investment after several years from box office receipts and television sales. Yet it still remains the most expensive film ever made (adjusting for inflation).
Plato Skouras, son of Spyros and Sara, followed in his father’s footsteps in the movie industry. He formed his own independent film company and produced several independent films. He died in 2004. At the time of his death, he was working on a biography of his father.