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Dance Icon David Winters Explores His Life and Legacy in New Book

I recently spoke over the phone with Hollywood icon David Winters about his new book, Tough Guys Do Dance. The book not only shares many details about his decades in show business, but also  his desire to leave behind a legacy for others to follow. For those less familiar with David, or anyone curious about what to expect in this new book, we started by discussing a few key points in his long career.

David started his career at a young age working mostly in television with roughly 150 roles by the age of 17.

Marc Heller: A lot of people know you from West Side Story. You were Baby John in the play, and A-rab in the film. How did this all come about?

David Winters: At the time I was on a Broadway show called Shinbone alley at the Broadway Theatre starring Eartha Kitt and Eddie Bracken. It was based off a book by Mel Brooks. I got a call from Jerry’s (Jerome Robbins) secretary. I thought she was putting me on so I hung up. Fortunately she called again, and said that he was about to do a new play called West Side Story, would you like to audition for it? Who wouldn’t want to audition for Jerome Robbins. So I did the audition, and I thought it was terrible, but Jerome thought it was great. I was the first one signed, but I had overheard that Chita Rivera was hired as well. She was the standby for Eartha Kitt on Shinbone alley, so I couldn’t wait to tell her I was working on West Side Story too.

Marc: How did you go from being in the Broadway play to being in the film?

David: I was in London at the time, doing Oliver. I was the Artful Dodger. And I got an offer to do the West Side Story movie.

Marc: And were you aware of how huge the film was going to be?

David: Yes, because the Broadway show had been so huge. Myself, and everyone in the show were getting such a great reaction

David also noted that at 17, he was the youngest person on set.

Marc: So West Side Story was a huge transition for you, after having done so much television, now you were becoming a theatre and film star. Was that your ultimate goal

David: Broadway and film were the ultimate.  In those days if  you were an actor, no one wanted to do television. So your goal was to become a film and stage actor.

David went on to mention his friends Sal Mineo, James Darren, and Michael Callen. Specifically that they all went out to Hollywood and became big stars. But that there were also a lot of people who went out to Hollywood, and wound up being waiters and suit salesmen. He had hoped that an attempt to become a contract person for Columbia Studios would prevent that from happening to him, but after working on Last Angry Man, no further contracts were offered. So he opened up a dance studio in Hollywood

Marc: So tell me about the dance school.

David: It was very successful. We had live music in the school. The dancing was my style, it combined jazz with street dancing.

Marc: And how did you come to meet Ann-Margret?

David: Mickey Banks, who was an assistant in West Side Story wanted to bring a young girl over who was in Bye Bye Birdie. He said he wanted me to teach her private lessons. And we just clicked. She looked great doing my steps, she looked different from everyone else.

David explained that she liked him a lot, and recommended him to Elvis, which is how he got the choreographer job for Viva Las Vegas. And after his work on that film, Elvis went on to continue to use him as his choreographer.

 

David also went on to do 5 movies and a stage show with Ann-Margret. It was a musical sequence that he produced that convinced Mike Nichols to cast her in Carnal Knowledge which earned her a Golden Globe.

David’s first Emmy was for his show with Nancy Sinatra, but since no category existed for dance, they gave him an award for “Outstanding Achievement in Television”. However, the following year, the Emmys would create a new category, “Outstanding Choreography”, which was awarded to him for his work on Ann-Margret’s show. It’s something he’s very proud of as it leaves a lasting legacy, and now people who follow him can be rewarded for their work.

That’s the key to this book, not just to tell fascinating stories, but about David’s desire to leave behind a legacy, to hopefully inspire and encourage others. Before I get into that, however, I have one last, and very funny story to share.

For those not aware, David directed a cult favorite movie from the 80’s called Thrashin’ starring Josh Brolin. It’s a major part of skating culture, and it has a huge following. Especially considering that Josh Brolin is the lead villain in the newly released Infinity War, I had to ask David about it.

Marc: Can you tell me any stories about Thrashin’?

David: That movie, actually, I wanted Johnny Depp for the part. I auditioned 600 kids, and I took Johnny in to producer Chuck Fries, and Chuck didn’t like him. We both had to agree, and Johnny was a nobody at the time, so he said  no, you can’t have him. Johnny reminded me of James Dean at the time. So Chuck tells me to go find someone else. I spent 2 months around the country, I call Chuck , tell him I found the guy, and send back Johnny Depp again. Chuck goes crazy, he says you can’t have him, he will never make it, you can’t have him. So I apologize to Johnny Depp and we wind up hiring Josh Brolin for the part.

David mentions that he knew Chuck for some time, and would go on to speak to Chuck afterwards, and occasionally leave him a voicemail saying it was David and Johnny Depp.

There are a lot more fascinating stories to tell. About his relationship with Paul Newman. More stories about Ann-Margret and Elvis. Stories about Barbara Streisand and a Star is Born. Sonny and Cher. His relationship with Linda Lovelace, and a lot more. If you want to read about these stories, make sure to pick up the book.

David’s book is not all about  dance and show business. Starting at a year and a half old, he had his first near death experience. It would not be his last, and was even once told by a doctor that he had 25 seconds to live. In the book he candidly discusses his trials and tribulations throughout his life.

It makes David proud  when he sees students of his like Walter Painter go on to win 3 Emmys for Choreography. David very specifically said to me that what you leave behind is important.  So hopefully people who read this book are inspired by his stories and help to carry on his legacy.

In closing I want to share this one last conversation I had with David, that will better explain the title, and purpose of this book. Following up our conversation on legacy, he shares this story with me.

David: So I’m on a studio lot, and there’s a guy coming down the lot, he’s following me, yelling “stop , stop!” But he’s sounding kinda friendly. He says “David Winters!” Which is kind of strange because he knows my name, and he comes up to me, and it’s Henry Winkler. Do you know who that is?

Marc: Of course, Fonzie.

David: So he comes up to me and says I want to shake your hands. When I was a young boy, I wanted to be an actor, and a singer, and where I lived, they all said to me, that’s for sissies, you don’t do that, it’s not for real men. When I saw you in West Side Story, you inspired me to go into show business. I know you weren’t a sissie.

Marc: So men were actually afraid to do song and dance because other guys thought it made them sissies?

David: Absolutely, and you never know in life what inspires people.

I want to thank David for his time, and please be sure to pick up a copy of  Tough Guys Do Dance.

 

 

 

Q&A With Low Budget Legend Mark Pirro

 

I’d like to introduce you to filmmaker and actor Mark Pirro. For those not familiar with his work, he is most known for making successful micro budget films. Most notably, A Polish Vampire in Burbank, which was shot for a modest budget of $2500. The film went on to make $500,000 when it was released in 1983. Recently, I did a Q&A with Mark to discuss his film career, and his latest film Celluloid Soul. I started by asking him about when he made A Polish Vampire in Burbank.

Marc Heller: Mark, you did this at a time when there wasn’t digital technology, and you had none of the advantages aspiring film makers have today. You lost your star, you had to cope with injuries from a car accident, and as time went on, you lost more people. What drove you to put this film together despite all of these obstacles?

Mark Pirro: Well, I guess it’s the same force that drives a drug addict to get his fix. I had a strong passion for filmmaking. Once I started Polish Vampire, from then on, my only goal was completing it. When Eddie Deezen, the original star of the film, left the project, I already had several days of filming invested in the movie and didn’t just want to call it a loss; so I regrouped, did a little re-writing of the script, jumped into the role myself, and kept forging ahead. Same thing for when I had gotten into the car accident. It was either about buying another car, or start taking the bus and finish the movie. I was in my early 20’s and didn’t really have a lot of money to bat around, so it was an either/or situation. I have to wonder if I would still have that kind of determination today. And yes, today’s technology has changed everything. Today, there is no excuse why a person can’t go out and make his own movie. Back in the day, it was budget. Not anymore. The big irony here is that my last five features cost less to make than my first one from 1983.

Marc:A decade after you released a Polish Vampire in Burbank, aspiring film maker Robert Rodriguez shot El Mariachi for $7,000. The film went on to become a multi million dollar franchise, and Rodriguez has gone on to become a very successful director. Do you feel that your successes as a director made it possible for other opportunities such as El Mariachi to become possible?

Mark: I doubt I had anything to do with it. A filmmaker will always figure out a way to get his project made. Polish Vampire may have been unique in that it was one of the first films, if not THE first film, shot for $2500, that actually got mainstream exposure on the home video market and on USA Network, but it was all about timing in that case. Home video recorders had just come along into the mainstream and distributors were looking for product. The studios were reluctant to give up many of their films for home viewing; so here comes a film, brand new, made exclusively for the home video market. That’s why it got snatched up so quickly.

Marc: I want to briefly go back to your time before the release of A Polish Vampire In Burbank. You were an aspiring filmmaker. You get a job at Universal studios, where you connect with like minded people. Together, you rent out a theatre and create a film festival. Your contribution is The Spy Who Did It Better, starring John McCafferty who would go on to frequently act in many of your other films. The film was an homage to James Bond, a franchise which we both love, sort of. I know you aren’t the biggest fan of Daniel Craig. So I have to ask, who is your favorite Bond?

Mark: No question about it: Sean Connery. He defined the role. You know when he dies, that’s what’s going to lead the story – the original James Bond. We based The Spy Who Did it Better solely on the Connery Bond movies, right down to his pose in the opening gun barrel scene. Even McCafferty’s fake accent was based on Connery’s voice. I even had the honor of meeting Barbara Broccoli around the time we were making the film. A tour guide friend, Eric Douglas, knew her, and she was working on a little super 8 film. He asked me if I would be willing to go to her house and help her with it. I was thrilled to. In fact, one evening John McCafferty and I went over to her house and watched “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” with her in 16mm (remember, there were no VCRs in wide use back then). Ahh sweet memories.

Marc: Am I correct that one of the filmmakers at that festival was Frank Darabont?

Mark: Yes. He made a short film called “The Maltese Mystery,” which was a Humphrey Bogart film noir spoof. Very well made. I met Frank when we both worked as ushers at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood in the late 70s. I knew he was a filmmaker too and when a fellow filmmaker and I put together the festival, which was dubbed by the L.A. Times as “The Poor People’s Film Festival,” I invited Darabont to be a part of it. I even helped him put in sound effects for the screening. The original film just had music and narration.

Marc: The Spy Who Did It Better was a short film, how was the process to transition from that to a full length movie?

Mark: Not a big transition. Really the only difference was that it just takes longer to make, and you need to rely on people sticking around a bit longer. In fact, when we started Polish Vampire, originally entitled Virgin Vampire, we weren’t sure it would be a feature. I think the original script was about 60 pages. It’s when Deezen quit and the script was retitled and rewritten that the movie’s length increased. I’ve since learned that you try to cast people you’re familiar with and know that they won’t flake out on you. I have very few flakey actors these days.

Marc: Moving forward, in 1987 you filmed Death Row Game Show, starring John McCafferty as a smarmy game show host in a role that seemed to be written for him. When you made the film, did you think that three decades later this would closely mirror how our society has become?

Mark: It is sort of where we’re headed, isn’t it? No, we were just out to make a fun little movie, with no pretensions. It was my first 35mm film and the first time someone else gave us money to spend, so it was just about getting through production without blowing it. It was a bit overwhelming, working with grip trucks, bigger lights, and some people trying to take advantage of our inexperience with the medium, but all in all a pleasant experience.

Marc: Vinegar Syndrome recently released an amazing blu ray of Death Row Game Show. They did a 2k restoration, and added a ton of special features including The Spy Who Did It Better in its entirety. How did this come about?

Mark: I got contacted by Vinegar Syndrome, who told me that they just acquired the rights to the film from Crown Pictures (the owner of the film). They asked if I’d be interested in doing a commentary for it. I had already done a commentary for an earlier release by a company called Code Red Video, but Vinegar Syndrome didn’t have the rights to that one. So I invited actors John McCafferty and Robyn Blythe to join me and we did a new commentary. It was easy to get them since we’ve stayed in touch all these years. Then Vinegar Syndrome asked me if I had any other material to include on the disk and I offered them a ‘making of’ documentary that I put together in 2013; and to complete the package, I offered them two short films that I made years earlier (both featuring McCafferty): The Spy Who Did It Better and a 22 minute comedy called Buns. I also gave them a remastered version of Deathrow Gameshow itself. There were a lot of technical issues with the film that I hated since 1987. Thanks to today’s technology, I was able to ‘fix’ a lot of the problems with the film; mainly audio problems and a few visual flaws. I would have preferred that the remastered version was the only one out there, but VS wanted to keep things pure, so they released the original flawed version. But at least they included the remastered version, so there’s some solace in that.

Marc: A notable name that pops up in your films is Forrest Ackerman, who was in Curse of the Queerwolf and Nudist Colony of the Dead. Did you have a relationship with him beyond your films, and what was it like to work with him?

Mark: He was the best. I met him through Plan 9 From Outer Space’s Conrad Brooks, who was also in a few of my films. After filming Polish Vampire, Conrad, who knew Forry, suggested we have a screening of it at his Ackermansion in Hollywood. We brought the film to his house and ran it. I told him that I was starting another film (Curse of the Queerwolf) and asked him what he would charge to appear in it. He said something like, “I’m cheaper than cheap.” In fact, he once quipped that if you can’t afford Vincent Price, you can get him for less the Price. He did Queerwolf for free, and Nudist Colony for nearly free. He loved doing cameos in movies, whether they had a budget or not. We stayed in touch over the years, pretty much right up until the end. In fact, he did the narration to the documentary on the making of Polish Vampire, and did the forward to my 1994 book on filmmaking: Ultra Low Budget Movie Making. Great guy. I miss him.

Marc: Modern filmmaking has changed a lot due to political correctness. Everyone is stepping on eggshells. Yet, you are not afraid to tackle subjects other people won’t touch. Most notably religion. How did God Complex come about?

Mark: I’ve always thought that religion was low hanging fruit when it comes to comedy, and had wanted to do some kind of religious parody for years. My film Nudist Colony of the Dead kind of danced around that concept, but that movie dealt more with religious zealots as opposed to God himself. Around 2007, I started writing a script called “Jesus Christ Conquers the Martians,” and that was going to be my religious parody. The concept was that citizens of Mars were getting too smart, so the Martian leaders decide they need something to ‘dumb them down.’ One of the leaders suggests that they borrow what’s kept people on Earth dumb for quite some time: Jesus. So they travel through time and space, kidnap Jesus right before he’s crucified, take him to Mars, and hilarity ensues.
Well, I got about half way through the script and then hit a roadblock in the story. The concept just ran out of steam. Once Jesus made it to Mars, the script didn’t really go anywhere. So, I switched gears and decided to go back to the Bible. I mean, there’s enough comedy in there to sustain a story, and that’s what I did. Following the Bible’s narrative, I made God a fat, bald, jealous, egotistical moron who can’t seem to get anything right, and really only does the crap he does to impress his girlfriend. Once I used that as a launching pad, the script just wrote itself. The movie covers many of the more popular Biblical myths: Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark, Moses and the Burning Bush, the story of Job, Abraham and Isaac, and of course, the Virgin Mary and Jesus. Naturally, we took a few liberties with the stories (like Virgin Mary suing God for sexually molesting, and getting her pregnant, in “The Deity’s Court,” and an angel of God delivering the message of Jesus’ birth to Joseph as a singing telegram).

Marc: And how did you get the idea to make a talking Jesus toy?

Mark: The Submissive Jesus Pray Answering Talking Head. At the end of The God Complex, God and Jesus are forced to sign a contract not to interfere with science or intelligence ever again (which is why you haven’t heard much from them in over 2000 years). So to blend in, but not attract attention, they conceal themselves as employees of a Toy Factory. A toy being created under their noses is the Submissive Jesus, which answers your prayers by saying 1 of 100 random smart-ass phrases with the twist of his crown. Anyway, we had one made for the film, then I thought it might be a cool thing to mass produce a few more and market in the real world. So I had a batch made up, created a handful of commercials for it and started selling them at www.thesubmissivejesus.com. Almost 10 years later, we’re still selling those little holy bastards.

Marc: Speaking of ideas, do you have a creative process? Or do ideas like a giant killer ass just come to you?

Mark: I’m always trying to think concepts for stories. I think that’s one of the hardest parts of the creative process: coming up with something worth spending your time on. When I start a movie, I know I’m going to be spending at least two years of my life with it, so I want to be passionate about whatever project I pick. It’s like a relationship. If you know you’re going to be spending some lengthy time in this relationship, you had better be really in love with it. Sometimes one project can lead to another; for example, the movie Curse of the Queerwolf was inspired by a minor character in Polish Vampire in Burbank. There was a Queerwolf introduced in that film. The character always got great reactions at screenings, so that gave me the idea to create a whole movie based on that character. In the case of Nudist Colony of the Dead, we just started with a title and built from there.

Marc: Although you are known for fun movies like the films previously mentioned above, you also made movies about serious subjects. Color-Blinded addresses race issues.

Mark: That one came as a result of my dating Darwyn Carson, a black actress in several of my early films. She often spoke of how different her life, career, and relationships would be if she were a blue-eyed blonde. So, that gave me the idea of creating a movie about a beautiful black gal who one day wakes up as a beautiful blonde Caucasian woman. Up until Rage of Innocence, that was probably the closest thing to a movie of mine that had some human emotion attached to it, and required real acting – something that wasn’t a prerequisite to appearing in any of my earlier films.

Marc: And then there is Rage of Innocence. Which is a complete 360 from what we are used to seeing from you. It’s a really powerful film. How did Rage of Innocence come about, and will we see more films like this from you in the future?

Mark: Don’t you mean 180? 360 brings you back to where you started. Screw it, what do I know about math? Where was I? Oh yeah. Having made nothing but comedies for over 30 years, I guess my comedic well started drying up. So rather than fight it and continue struggling with attempting to come up with another funny film, I decided to follow the darker path and see where that would lead me. It led me to Rage of Innocence, the story of a 15 year old sociopath named Raven who will stop at nothing to keep men from dating her single mother.
Oddly enough, with the #metoo and #timesup movements, the movie seems to suddenly be rather timely. I mean, there are many careers that have been lost by accusations of sexual misconduct, without any judge or jury trial. Rage of Innocence kind of takes on that same concept. In that film, Raven, becomes the main antagonist to a man who starts dating her mother, against Raven’s wishes. She knows exactly how to frame our hero, and making it look like he does things that he of course never did. She’s so good at it that he ends up getting his 13 year old daughter taken away from him, and gets sent to jail; all because of Raven’s convincing accusations – with forensic proof to back it up. That’s a pretty terrifying concept, I think. As far as the future goes and will I make any more films like this one? It’s difficult to say. I really never know what’s next. Over the last 15 years or so, I’ve often said that each movie I finish will very likely be my last one. Then another project comes along that tickles my fancy. Right now, at this moment, I’m not all that ticklish.

(Author’s note, he is correct, I meant 180, I will hang my head down in shame now)

Marc: Your latest project is Celluloid Soul, which features comedy legend Judy Tenuta. Can you tell me a little bit about this film and how people can see it?

Mark: Celluloid Soul is about a suicidal writer who has just lost his girlfriend, and is depressed and lonely. He happens to become fascinated with this actress from a couple 1939 movies he watches at a friend’s house. He becomes obsessed with finding out who this unknown actress was and whatever became of her. He eventually finds out that she’s still alive, although about 98 years old. He gets her on the phone and becomes inspired to write a screenplay about her life.
After writing a great script, he convinces her to meet with him. She’s reluctant at first, but eventually agrees. To his surprise, when she shows up on his doorstep, she looks exactly as she did in the 1939 movies; completely in black and white with moving vertical scratches going through her. He, of course, believes he’s losing his mind, as do his friends.
Right now we’re looking into some kind of decent distribution for the film. The distribution game for indie films has changed dramatically over the years. A theatrical release is pretty much out of the question, and DVDs and BluRays are sort of becoming yesterday’s medium. Streaming on demand video seems to be the way these days, although unless it really takes off, there’s not a lot of money in it. Film Festivals are sometimes good exposure, but I’m not a big fan of them. What annoys me about festivals is that one winds up spending more than the budget of the movie just to submit and in many cases, get rejected.

Marc: And can you tell us what it’s like to work with Judy?

Mark The best. I’ve made several short videos with her over the past few years. They’re called “The World Accordion to Judy,” and they cover all kinds of topics. You can find the entire series of videos on Youtube. We also made a bunch of Trump parody videos, where I play the moron and she plays his wife, Malaria. We’ve done a few music videos, etc. She’s a joy to work with. When I asked her if she’d like to appear in Celluloid Soul, she agreed to do it. I’ll always be grateful for her adding a touch of elegance to the film.

Marc: Is there anything else you would like to mention? Are there any other upcoming projects?

Mark: Nothing concrete at the moment. I’ve considered remaking or somehow revisiting Nudist Colony of the Dead, since I was never really all that satisfied with the original film. Technology has come a long way. When we made the original film, back in 1991, we were using the crappiest super 8 equipment imaginable. We were lucky if we even got a decent exposure, and many times we didn’t. We also didn’t have the best singers and dancers, and since it was a musical…well…good singers and dancers could have been a worthy asset. However, if I were to revisit this film, I wouldn’t want to do it again on a micro-budget. There’d be little point. That film needs someone like Tim Burton to get involved.

Marc: Where can people find your movies and connect with you?

Mark: They can always go through my website – www.pirromount.com. I’m also on Facebook, like the rest of the world. In addition, many of my films are on Amazon Prime and Amazon Instant. DVDs are all over Ebay. And, as of this time, my representatives are busily trying to secure other streaming outlets. Also, if your readers would like to have all their prayers answered and possess all the power of God, they can get a Submissive Jesus Prayer Answering Talking Head at  www.thesubmissivejesus.com.  That is all and God B. Less.

 

 

 

Verne Troyer, Mini-Me in ‘Austin Powers,’ Dies at 49

Verne Troyer, Mini-Me in ‘Austin Powers,’ Dies at 49

Verne Troyer, the actor best known for playing Mini-Me in the Austin Power films and one of the shortest men in the world, has died. He was 49.

The news was announced in a post to his official Facebook page.

“It is with great sadness and incredible heavy hearts to write that Verne passed away today,” the statement reads. “Verne was an extremely caring individual…[he] hoped he made a positive change with the platform he had and worked towards spreading that message everyday.”

In addition to his credits in “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” and “Austin Power in Goldmember,” Troyer also acted in the first Harry Potter film as Griphook the goblin. He had more than 25 other film credits to his name, including roles in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” “The Love Guru,” and “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.”

Born January 1, 1969 in Michigan, Troyer was raised in the Amish faith for a time, but his parents eventually left the religion. He graduated from Centreville High School in 1987.

Troyer’s unusual height of 2’8″ was a result of achondroplasia dwarfism. He has stated that his parents “never treated me any different than my other average-sized siblings. I used to have to carry wood, feed the cows and pigs and farm animals.”

Read the full announcement of Troyer’s death below.

“It is with great sadness and incredibly heavy hearts to write that Verne passed away today.

Verne was an extremely caring individual. He wanted to make everyone smile, be happy, and laugh. Anybody in need, he would help to any extent possible. Verne hoped he made a positive change with the platform he had and worked towards spreading that message everyday.

He inspired people around the world with his drive, determination, and attitude. On film & television sets, commercial shoots, at comic-con’s & personal appearances, to his own YouTube videos, he was there to show everyone what he was capable of doing. Even though his stature was small and his parents often wondered if he’d be able to reach up and open doors on his own in his life, he went on to open more doors for himself and others than anyone could have imagined. He also touched more peoples hearts than he will ever know.

Verne was also a fighter when it came to his own battles. Over the years he’s struggled and won, struggled and won, struggled and fought some more, but unfortunately this time was too much.

During this recent time of adversity he was baptized while surrounded by his family. The family appreciates that they have this time to grieve privately.

Depression and Suicide are very serious issues. You never know what kind of battle someone is going through inside. Be kind to one another. And always know, it’s never too late to reach out to someone for help.

In lieu of flowers, please feel free to make a donation in Verne’s name to either of his two favorite charities; The Starkey Hearing Foundation and Best Buddies.”

Weinstein Co. Adds Board Member to Navigate Bankruptcy Sale

Weinstein Co. Adds Board Member to Navigate Bankruptcy Sale

The Weinstein Co., which is two weeks away from a bankruptcy auction, appointed a new board member on Friday who will weigh in on the sale.

Ivona Smith is a consultant at Drivetrain Advisors, a firm that provides independent board service for companies in bankruptcy. According to a statement on Friday night from the Weinstein Co., Smith was added at the urging of the committee of unsecured creditors. The five-member committee includes an actress and former Weinstein Co. employee who have filed suits accusing Harvey Weistein  of sexual misconduct.

The committee is seeking to maximize the value of the Weinstein Co. estate, providing the largest possible return for creditors. In addition to Weinstein’s victims, the unsecured creditors include numerous law firms, studios, and vendors.

“We are delighted to welcome Ms. Smith to our Board,” Bob Weinstein, the company chairman, said in a statement. “Ms. Smith brings not only substantial expertise in the bankruptcy sale process, but also enhanced transparency toward [the] Board’s goal of maximizing value for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

Smith has 20 years of experience in distressed investment. The other board members are Tarak Ben Ammar, Lance Maerov, and Frank Rainone.

Lantern Capital has submitted a stalking horse bid of $310 million, plus assumption of debt, for the company. Lantern, based in Dallas, intends to keep the company going. Other bidders are said to be solely interested in the company’s 277-title library. Bids are due on April 30.

Bilingual YouTube Star Mariale Marrero Signs With CAA

Bilingual YouTube Star Mariale Marrero Signs With CAAMariale Marrero - CAA

Mariale Marrero, a Venezuelan-born bilingual beauty and lifestyle influencer with more than 20 million fans online, has signed with CAA for representation in all areas.

The 27-year-old creator launched her main Spanish-language YouTube channel, Mariale, in 2010 — seeing the opportunity to reach an underserved Hispanic audience.

Today she’s a cross-cultural digital star, one of the biggest U.S.-based Hispanic YouTube personalities, and currently lives in Los Angeles. She has a fan base of 13.5 million subscribers across her three YouTube channels — Mariale, Mariale SinPatuque (“without makeup”) and the English-language Mar — and has large followings on Instagram (4 million), Facebook (1.8 million) and Twitter (934,000).

Her most popularvideo on  Youtube with nearly 12 million views: a “roast yourself” challenge in which she makes fun of herself in a music video set to Luis Fonsi’s smash hit “Despacito.” Among Marrero’s other top videos is one from July 2017 documenting her breast-augmentation surgery.

Marrero was nominated in the “Styler del Año” category at the 2017 MTV Latin America Millennial Awards  On her digital channels, she has partnered with brands like SmashBox Cosmetics, Revlon, Bliss, L’Oréal Paris, Lancôme, and TooFaced.

CAA will work to create opportunities for Marrero in all areas, including television, motion pictures, touring, digital distribution and partnerships, endorsements, personal appearances, publishing, and beyond.

Marrero continues to be managed by Kimberly Perplies and Vanessa DelMuro of James Grant Management Inc

Former First Lady Barbara Bush Dies at 92

Former First Lady Barbara Bush Dies at 92

Former first lady Barbara Bush died in Houston on Tuesday. She was 92.

Bush served as first lady of the United States during the tenure of President George H.W. Bush from 1989-93.

The office of George H.W. Bush released a statement announcing her death. She has been battling congestive heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and had recently decided not to seek any further treatment.

Barbara Pierce was born in New York City on June 8, 1925. She met her husband, George H.W. Bush, at a dance in Massachusetts in 1941 when she was 16 years old. After dating for a year and a half, the couple got engaged before he went off to World War II to serve as a Navy torpedo bomber pilot. When he returned on leave, she dropped out of Smith College in Northampton, Mass. They got married two weeks later on Jan. 6, 1945, in Rye, N.Y.

For the first several months of their marriage, the Bush family moved around the eastern U.S. as Bush’s Navy squadron training required his presence at bases in the area. Over the following 13 years, the couple had six children: George W. Bush (born 1946), Pauline (1949-1953), Jeb (born 1953), Neil (born 1955), Marvin (born 1956) and Dorothy (born 1959). Mrs. Bush is survived by 17 grandchildren.

In 1959, Bush was elected Harris County Republican Party chairman, and in 1964 he ran for and lost as the U.S. senator from Texas. However, this loss put the Bushs on the national scene, and Bush was elected as a U.S. representative in Congress in 1966. Over the following years, Bush was either elected or appointed to several different positions in the U.S. Congress, executive branch, or other government-related posts. His increasing political service inspired Mrs. Bush to engage in her own projects, including several charities and women’s groups in Washington, D.C.

After Bush announced his candidacy for president in the 1980s, Barbara Bush alarmed conservatives when she revealed that she supported the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and was pro-choice on abortion. That same year, Bush became former President Reagan’s running mate after he received the presidential nomination. In the eight years Barbara Bush spent as second lady, she became interested in issues surrounding literacy. She wrote a children’s book in 1984 titled “C. Fred’s Story,” told by the point of view of her dog, and donated all the proceeds from the book to literacy charities.

She became the first lady after Bush was elected president in 1988, and continued to promote her cause of literacy. She eventually helped to develop the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, which seeks to improve literacy in the U.S. through programs directed toward pre-school children and parental literacy. She spoke regularly on “Mrs. Bush’s Story Time,” a national radio program that stressed the significance of reading aloud to children.

After leaving the White House, Mrs. Bush served on the boards of Americares and the Mayo Clinic, and headed the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.

In 1995, Mrs. Bush received the Award for Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged, distributed annually by Jefferson Awards. She was honored with the Miss America Woman of Achievement Award two years later for her work with literacy programs.

She was portrayed by Ellen Burstyn in Oliver Stone’s 2008 “W.”

Harry Anderson, ‘Night Court’ Star, Dies at 65

Harry Anderson, ‘Night Court’ Star, Dies at 65

 Harry Anderson, the amiable actor who presided over the NBC comedy Night Court  for nine seasons, has died at his home in Asheville, N.C., according to a local media report. He was 65.

Anderson was found at his home by police officers early Monday morning, according toa report by WSPA TV ,the CBS affiliate in Spartanburg, N.C. No foul play was suspected, police told the station.

Anderson was a magician-turned-actor who was known as a rabid fan of jazz singer Mel Torme. The affection for Torme was woven into his TV alter ego, Judge Harry Stone, a quirky character who ruled the bench at a Manhattan night court. The sitcom was a mainstay of NBC from 1984 to 1992. Anderson earned three consecutive Emmy nominations for his work on the show from 1985-1987.

Anderson gained national attention after he guest starred as grifter Harry “the Hat” Gittes on NBC’s “Cheers” in the early 1980s. On “Night Court,” Anderson played a goofy but big-hearted judge who encountered a host of oddball characters and cases every week. The series also starred John Larroquette, Richard Moll, Charles Robinson, Marsha Warfield, and Markie Post. Anderson also directed two episodes of the series and wrote or co-wrote five episodes during its long run

After “Night Court,” Anderson co-starred as columnist Dave Barry in the CBS comedy “Dave’s World,” which ran for four seasons. Anderson moved to New Orleans in 2000 to open the nightclub Oswald’s Speakeasy, where he performed a mix of comedy and magic, and a magic and curio shop dubbed Sideshow.

Anderson logged a guest spot in FX’s “Son of the Beach” in 2002 and a 2008 appearance on NBC’s “30 Rock.” But for the most part, he stayed away from Hollywood. He moved to North Carolina in 2006 after New Orleans was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Born in Rhode Island, Anderson reportedly had a difficult childhood and moved frequently with his mother, who he once described in an interview with Playboy as “a hustler.” He moved to California at the age of 16 to be with his father. He became a street performer and reportedly ran a lucrative shell game on the streets of San Francisco for a time.

Anderson made his way to L.A.’s famed Magic Castle in the early 1980s, where he connected with an agent, according to TCM.com. He made several appearances on “Saturday Night Live” around this time. After “Night Court” made him a star, Anderson hosted “SNL” in 1985.

Anderson’s other credits included guest shots on “Tales From the Crypt” and HBO’s “Tanner ’88,” “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose,” and “The John Larroquette Show.” He starred in the 1990 ABC miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s “It.”

TV Ratings: James Comey Interview Nets 9.8 Million Viewers, ACM Awards Rise

TV Ratings: James Comey Interview Nets 9.8 Million Viewers, ACM Awards Rise

Airing at 10 p.m. after “American Idol,” Comey’s interview averaged 9.8 million viewers in the hour, with Comey discussing his time working under President Trump and Comey’s new book that is highly critical of the President. It averaged a 1.7 rating in adults 18-49 and a 2.4 in the key news demo of adults 25-54. While still a fine night for ABC News, by comparison, the “60 Minutes” interview with adult film star Stormy Daniels–who allegedly had an affair with Trump–netted 22 million viewers and a 5.3 rating in adults 25-54.

This Sunday’s “60 Minutes” also topped the Comey interview in total viewers with 10.4 million, though Comey was ahead in the demo. “60 Minutes” averaged a 1.7 in adults 25-54 for the night and a 1.1 in adults 18-49.

After “60 Minutes,” the ACM Awards show on CBS was the top program of the night in total viewers and adults 18-49. The awards show averaged a 2.1 rating and 12.1 million viewers. That is even with the low the show hit in the demo in 2017 but up in total viewers from the 10.9 million the show averaged last year.

Preceding the Comey interview, “America’s Funniest Home Videos” drew a 1.2 and 6.2 million viewers on ABC. “American Idol” hit a 1.3 and 6.3 million viewers, down in both measures from last Sunday and marking a new series low.

On NBC, “Dateline” (0.6, 4.1 million) was even. “Little Big Shots” (0.7, 5.5 million), “Genius Junior” (0.7, 3.9 million), and “Timeless” (0.5, 2.6 million) all took hits.

On Fox, Bob’s Burgers” (0.8, 1.8 million) and “The Simpsons” (1.0, 2.2 million) were even. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” averaged a 0.9 and 1.8 million viewers at 8:30 with a second episode at 9 drawing a 0.7 and 1.5 million. “Last Man on Earth” (0.6, 1.4 million) was down in the demo.

CBS won the night easily with a 1.8 and 11.7 million viewers. ABC was second with a 1.4 and 7.1 million viewers. Fox was second in the demo with a 0.7 but fourth in viewers with 1.7 million. NBC was fourth in the demo with a 0.6 but third in viewers with 4 million.

Facebook’s Communications Meltdown: How the Company Lost Control of Its Messaging

Facebook’s Communications Meltdown: How the Company Lost Control of Its Messaging

“You’re asking a really important question.” “It’s such a good question.” “Those are fair questions, and I think those are real questions.”When Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg talks to journalists these days, she frequently praises their questions — and then proceeds not to answer them, instead talking about something else. Anyone who has ever undergone media training knows this as a redirection, a changing of the subject in order to evade those “really important” questions.

Sandberg has obviously undergone plenty of media training, as any executive in her position would have. But she’s also spent the past 10-plus years at Facebook, a company that has tried to control its messaging like few others — and that has been completely caught off-guard ever since the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal broke last month, incapable of dealing with a situation where the company is not in control.

Those decisions are as much a reflection of each company’s corporate culture as of their businesses. Apple makes most of its money with a handful of products, and believes it has found the best salespeople for the job. Google, and its corporate umbrella Alphabet, are on the other hand a lot more diversified, and publicly test all kinds of products and initiatives, from VR headsets to thermostats and from autonomous cars to cloud computing.

Facebook is in many ways more like Google, with a lot of groups working on separate products that often seem to compete with each other. Instagram, Whatsapp and Messenger are just the most prominent example of this. Nonetheless, the company has long tried to use the Apple messaging method, with a firm grip on its narrative.

That’s why you’ll often see Facebook sending not one but two executives to fireside chats at industry conferences. Regularly pairing up a man with a woman, these duos seem to suggest a gender balance, but also outnumber the moderator, and tend to recite well-rehearsed softball answers.

That’s why Mark Zuckenberg reportedly has a team of employees taking care of his public Facebook profile, working in the background to keep the illusion that the founder of the biggest social network of the world really is just like the rest of us.

And that’s why Sandberg always has an anecdote about a mom-and-pop store using Facebook to increase sales at the ready, a habit that she picked up for the company’s quarterly earnings calls but that she couldn’t help but fall back to during last week’s interview.

But there’s a problem with narratives: If you repeat them too often, you might start to believe them yourself.

That’s exactly what seems to have happened at Facebook, which increasingly became tone-deaf to criticism over the past few years. Privacy advocates have long rallied against some of the company’s policies. What’s more, Facebook knew that it screwed up on key data sharing permissions, allowing Cambridge Analytica to do what it did, as early as 2014.

Instead of working on a real response, which would have resulted in rethinking everything from third-party app data to retention of customer information, the company practiced the art of the apology — and didn’t even realize how it began to alienate its users

 

Horror Screenwriter John Oak Dalton To Make Directorial Debut On The Girl In The Crawlspace

Now this one is beyond exciting for me! Horror Society has just gotten word that friend of the site, John Oak Dalton, writer of such films as Sex Machine, Scarewaves, Haunted House on Sorority Row, Jurassic Prey, and many others, is gearing up to make his directorial debut on the film The Girl in the Crawlspace.

The film is set to be produced by Henrique Couto who has directed several of Dalton’s scripts, including the aforementioned Haunted House on Sorority Row. Plus, Jurassic Prey director Mark Polonia will be on hand to edit the film. The three recently collaborated on the film, In Search Of. Scream queen and another frequent collaborator, Erin R Ryan is set to star.

The Girl in the Crawlspace is slated for release in 2018. Keep your eyes here, because the first chance I get to screen this for the Horror Society crowd in Chicago, I will!

Take a look at the press release below for some more information.

Director Henrique Couto (BABYSITTER MASSACRE) and screenwriter John Oak Dalton (HAUNTED HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW) are teaming up for the fifth time on one of Dalton’s screenplays—only this time they are wearing different hats, with Couto producing (and serving as Director of Photography) and Dalton directing.

THE GIRL IN THE CRAWLSPACE will begin shooting this spring in rural Indiana.

“John Dalton is one of my favorite collaborators, so helping him take the director’s chair was a no brainer for me,” Couto said.

“I have wanted to jump over to the director’s chair for a while, after working on the sets of some of the movies made from my screenplays,” Dalton said. “This is a script I feel strongly about, one that I have wanted to get out there.”

Erin Ryan (CALAMITY JANE’S REVENGE) will play the title character, Jill. At the outset, Jill escapes from a notorious serial killer who has kept her prisoner in a crawlspace. She tries to work her way back to normal with the help of a therapist, but becomes inserted into the therapist’s strained marriage with a failing screenwriter. Joni Durian (ALONE IN THE GHOST HOUSE) and John Hambrick (SCAREWAVES) play the troubled couple.
Others in the cast include Tom Cherry, Rachael Redolfi, Jeff Kirkendall, Joe Kidd, Iabou Windimere, Chelsi Kern and fellow director Andrew Shearer.

“It’s psychological horror, with hopefully some good twists and turns,” Dalton said.
Prolific b-movie director Mark Polonia , who Dalton has penned seven screenplays for–including JURASSIC PREY and AMITYVILLE DEATH HOUSE–has signed on to edit. This marks the second time Dalton, Couto, and Polonia have collaborated after this summer’s Bigfoot movie IN SEARCH OF.

THE GIRL IN THE CRAWLSPACE is slated for release in 2018.