Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Clark's 'Quack' Opens At Kirk Douglas Theatre

Dan Bucatinsky

By Darlene Donloe

There is a lot going on in Eliza Clark’s Quack, now enjoying its world premiere at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City through November 18.

On the surface, this comedy looks like it has to do with one thing, but in actuality, it deals with a myriad of issues. 

Up front is whether or not a TV doctor is guilty of giving out medical information that may have led to a child’s death.

Here are the players. There is Dr. Irving Baer (Dan Bucatinsky), his trusty assistant Kelly (Jackie Chung), his wife Meredith (Jessalyn Gilsig), a podcaster named Brock (Nicholas D’Agosto) and a determined journalist named River Thumbolt (Shoniqua Shandai).

When the show opens, Dr. Baer, who throughout the show reminds the audience he is an endocrinologist, is reclined in a chair in his New York studio office, chewing the fat with his assistant, Kelly, who is also a nurse. A self-absorbed type who loves to hear himself talk, Dr. Baer wants her to tell him what is happening with a magazine article coming out about him that could be damaging to his reputation and disastrous for his career. Allegedly, during a segment of his show, he didn’t take a stance on the controversial vaccinations debate, which left open the possibility of a link with autism.

Shoniqua Shandai and Dan Bucatinsky

The article is written by River Thumbolt, a persistent reporter who portrays Dr. Baer as an anti-vaccine advocate who’s responsible for the deaths of several children due to a measles outbreak. The article titled “If It Looks Like A Duck,” questions Dr. Baer’s reliability and judgment. Of course, Dr. Baer’s ego is bruised. He becomes obsessed with Thumbolt and why she would choose to come after him so hard. How could someone malign him or question his 20-year medical career?

The article also takes aim at his annoying, opinionated, coarse wife who has a questionable diet business.

Unable to stop the media avalanche or slow down the industry and network whispers, Dr. Baer, unable to defend himself, has to come to grips with his show being canceled.

Although it comes in at two hours Quack seems a lot longer because it’s mostly talking heads. There are unnecessary scenes that don’t move the show forward, which ultimately drags the show to its conclusion.  There were actually no less than three moments when the show could have ended – only to have the stage turn for yet another scene.

Thank goodness the dialogue is witty, the delivery is fast-paced and the acting is top-notch. That being said, the characters were irritating. ALL of them are irritating.  Bucatinsky is annoyingly good as Dr. Baer. Gilsig is deliciously abrasive as Meredith. Jackie Chung holds her own as Kelly, as does Shoniqua Shandai as River.  Nicholas D’Agosto plays Brock, who uses his voice to empower men who appear to be the victims of women allegedly trying to cut them down to size.

Quack, a recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award, was written and developed in part with Center Theatre Group’s L.A. Writers’ Workshop and further developed by Center Theatre Group.

Quack, directed by Neel Keller and written by Eliza Clark, stars Dan Bucatinsky, Jackie Chung, Jessalyn Gilsig, Shoniqua Shandai, and Nicholas D’Agosto.

Kudos to Dane Laffrey (set design), Raquel Barreto (costume design), Robbin E. Broad (sound design), Elizabeth Harper (lighting design) and Michael K. Hooker (original music).

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likable), O (oh, yeah) and E (excellent), Quack gets an O (oh, yeah).

Quack, Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City; 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 1 and 6:30 p.m. on Sundays through November 18; $25-$72 (subject to change); 213 628-2772 or www.

Running time: 2 hours, with no intermission

All photos by Craig Schwartz

Amcomri Film Partners LP (AFP) Announces Production and Acquisition Fund

Amcomri Film Partners LP (“AFP”) has announced the creation of a multi-million-dollar film fund. The fund will provide support to independent producers seeking financing and international distribution for their films.
AFP has recently provided funding for the re-imagining of the David Cronenberg film, Rabid, directed by the Soska Sisters and starring Laura Vandervoort as well as for Wonderfilm Media’s Disturbing the Peace starring Guy Pearce. 
Larry Howard of Amcomri Film Partners said, “The launch of our own Fund is a natural extension of our fast-growing Entertainment division. Having already partially financed five productions over the past few months, the Fund will enable us to extend our interests in the creation and ownership of content to feed our downstream distribution businesses around the world.”
“I am also pleased to be working alongside Michael Walker and Andy Lyon who will bring a wealth of production and distribution experience to our upcoming investments.”
Amcomri Film Partners LP “AFP” is a subsidiary of the Amcomri Limited Partnership, a low key family office with a number of entertainment industry interests. AFP is the majority shareholder in UK film distributors 101 Films, Metrodome, Tartan Palisades as well as the International Sales Agency, Hollywood Classics International and the live act promotions business, Industry Entertainment.

Wallis Annenberg Celebrates Its 5th Anniversary

In celebration of its fifth anniversary, the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts kicks off its 2018/2019 season’s programming on Sunday, November 11, with three events that are ideal for children and families.

Story Pirates, the nationally acclaimed kid-centric company, returns to The Wallis at 11 a..m to 12 noon for a musical sketch comedy geared particularly for toddlers and adapted from stories written by children outdoors on the Promenade Terrace.

At noon, three-time Emmy Award-winner Debbie Allen leads a salsa dance class as part of The Wallis’s wildly popular Dance Sundays, an exhilarating series of complimentary, monthly, outdoor, dance events for the whole family on The Wallis’ Promenade Terrace. Allen, who has served as artist in residence at the Kennedy Center for over 15 years, has, in addition to her Emmys, been recognized for her vast body of work with a Golden Globe, five NAACP Image Awards, Drama Desk, Astaire and Olivier awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  All ages and dance levels are welcome.

Steven’s Puppets also returns this season with a free special performance of the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast at 2:30 p.m. In a timeless story about looking beyond the surface and beyond our differences to find the truth and dignity within each other, a strong and unselfish heroine sacrifices for her family and saves a man trapped in a prison of his own making. Vibrantly colorful hand-painted scenery showcases hand-carved wooden marionettes who appear and disappear mystically through the magic mirror. Young and old alike will marvel at the science and technology which brings this magic to life. This performance is made possible by generous support from Steve Cochran and Dan Clivner.

About the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts:

Since opening its doors in October 2013, The Wallis has produced or presented more than 250 dance, theatre, opera, classical music, cinema and family programs to an ever-expanding audience. Located in the heart of Beverly Hills, California, The Wallis brings audiences world-class theater, dance and music, performed by many of the world's most talented and sought-after artists. Featuring eclectic programming that mirrors the diverse landscape of Los Angeles and its notability as the entertainment capital of the world, The Wallis offers original and revered works from across the U.S. and around the globe. The mission of The Wallis is to create, present and celebrate unique performing arts events and educational programs that reflect the rich cultural diversity of our community. Nominated for 48 Ovation Awards, seven L.A. Drama Critic's Circle Awards and the recipient of six architectural awards since opening in 2013. The Wallis is a breathtaking 70,000-square-foot venue that celebrates the classic and the modern and was designed by Zoltan E. Pali, FAIA, of Studio Pali Fekete architects. The building features the restored, original 1933 Beverly Hills Post Office (on the National Register of Historic Places) that serves as the theater's dramatic yet welcoming lobby, and houses the 150-seat Lovelace Studio Theater, GRoW at The Wallis: A Space for Arts Education (a gift of Gregory Annenberg Weingarten and Family and the Annenberg Foundation) and the contemporary 500-seat, state-of-the art Bram Goldsmith Theater. Together, these structures embrace the city's history and its future, creating a performing arts destination for L.A.-area visitors and residents alike.   For more information about The Wallis, please visit:  

Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
Promenade Terrace
9390 N. Santa Monica Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Box Office – Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts Ticket Services 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA, 90210

11 am – 12 pm           Story Pirates
12 – 2 pm                    Dance Sunday:  Salsa with Debbie Allen and Friends
2:30 – 3:15 pm           Steven’s Puppets production of Beauty and the Beast

29th New Orleans Film Festival Awards Announced

The New Orleans Film Society (NOFS) announced jury and audience awards of the 29th annual New Orleans Film Festival film competitions in addition to the winners of the festival’s inaugural Screenplay Competition.

The 29th New Orleans Film Festival ended last Thursday, October 25th, with the closing night film A Tuba To Cuba with directors T.G. Herrington and Danny Clinch, followed by the closing night party featuring performances by Muevelo and Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The festival has reached a record audience of close to 30,000 attendees in 9 days. Mark your calendars for the 30th annual New Orleans Film Festival: October 16 – 24, 2019. Become a member of the New Orleans Film Society for a year full of films at

Please see lists of #NOFF2018 Jury Award Winners, Audience Award Winners and Screenplay Competition winners below.

New Orleans Film Festival 2018 - Jury Award Winners

Narrative Features Competition
The winner of this award receives a $10,000 in-kind camera package sponsored by Panavision as well as Final Draft 10 software.
Winner: Chained for Life, directed by Aaron Schimberg

Documentary Features Competition
The winner of this category receives a DCP Kit sponsored by CRU, Inc, as well as a Vimeo Pro Account, Final Draft 10 software, and a complimentary membership to the International Documentary Association.
Winner: For the Birds, directed by Richard Miron
Special Jury Mention: Jaddoland, directed by Nadia Shihab
Special Jury Mention: Man Made, directed by T Cooper

Best Louisiana Feature Award
The winner of this awards receives a $10,000 camera package sponsored by Panavision, Final Draft 10 software, and a 2TB hard drive sponsored by CRU, Inc.
Winner: This Taco Truck Kills Fascists, directed by Rodrigo Dorfman
Special Jury Mention: This Little Light, directed by Ada McMahon and Wendi Moore-O’Neal

Best Cinematography Prize (Louisiana Feature)
The winner of this category is awarded a $10,000 camera package from VER Camera, New Orleans.
Winner: Zac Manuel for Buckjumping

Best Narrative Short – Academy-Award® Qualifying Category*
The winner of this awards receives $2500 in Kodak film stock, a $2500 cash prize from Vimeo, a DCP Kit sponsored by CRU, Inc., Final Draft 10 software, as well as a Samsung Gear 360 camera.
Winner: Fence, directed by Lendita Zeqiraj
Special Jury Mention: Fatherland, directed by George Sikharulidze
Special Jury Mention: Hair Wolf, directed by Mariama Diallo

Best Documentary Short – Academy-Award® Qualifying Category*
The winner of this award receives software for Final Draft 10, a Vimeo Pro Account, and a complimentary membership to the International Documentary Association.
Winner: Santuario, directed by Pilar Timpane and Christine Delp
Special Jury Mention: The Changing Same, directed by Michele Stephenson and Joe Brewster

Helen Hill Award for Animation – Academy-Award® Qualifying Category*
The winner of this award receives a one-year license for both Toon Boom Storyboard Pro and Toon Boom Harmony Premium.
Winner: Serpentine, directed by Bronwyn Maloney
Honorable Mention for Excellence in Charm and Craft: You Can’t Play With Us, directed by Jason Rhein, Serene Bacigalupi

Best Experimental Short
The winner of this award will receive a Vimeo Pro Account, a Samsung Gear 360 and a 2TB hard drive sponsored by CRU, Inc.
Winner: Please Step Out of the Frame, directed by Karissa Hahn
Special Jury Mention: Giverny I (Négresse Impériale), directed by Ja’Tovia Gary
Special Jury Mention: Fucked Like a Star, directed by Stefanie Saintonge

Best Louisiana Short
The winner of this award receives a Lighting & Grip package from Cinelease worth $5,000, software for Final Draft 10, and a Vimeo Pro Account.
Winner: Blood Runs Down, directed by Zandashe Brown
Special Jury Mention: The Basin, directed by Ian Clark

Best Cinematography Prize (Louisiana Short)
This prize is be presented to a Louisiana Short with a $10,000 camera package from VER Camera, New Orleans.
Winner: Bron Moyi for Wings

Vimeo Staff Pick Prize
Winner: Group from directors Benjamin Allen, Claire Cai, Meghan Wells, Jack Mullinkosson, and Haley Saunders

REEL SOUTH Short Film Award
Winner: The Basin from director Ian Spencer Cook

Award for Best Sound
The winner of this award receives a $3,500 post-sound work credit by Apex Post.
Winner: The True Don Quixote

*The jury-award winners of these categories automatically qualify for consideration for the Annual Academy Awards® without the standard theatrical run, provided the film otherwise complies with the Academy rules.

New Orleans Film Festival 2018 - Audience Award Winners by Category

Spotlight Films – Green Book, dir. Peter Farrelly

Narrative Features – Solace, dir. Tchaiko Omewale

Documentary Features – Tie between United Skates, dir. Tina Brown & Dyana Winkler and While I Breathe, I Hope, dir. Emily Harrold

Louisiana Features (Narrative) – The True Don Quixote, dir. Chris Poché

Louisiana Feature (Documentary) – Tie between Buckjumping, dir. Lily Keber and A Tuba to Cuba, dir. T.G. Herrington & Danny Clinch

Animated Shorts –  Negative Space, dir. Ru Kuwahata & Max Porter

Narrative Shorts –  okaasan (mom), dir. Kana Hatakeyama

Documentary Shorts –  Come and Take It, dir. PJ Raval and Ellen Spiro

Experimental Shorts –  Giverny I (Négresse Impériale), dir. Ja’Tovia Gary

Episodic – Nice, dir. Andrew Ahn
Louisiana Shorts – Tie between Black Back, dir. Kiyoko McCrae & Jason Foster and The Children of Central City, dir. Emma Scott

New Orleans Film Festival 2018 - Screenplay Competition Winners

Feature Screenplays Winner ($1000 Prize) Audrey 2.0 by Imogen Grace

Short Screenplays Winner ($500 Prize)  – The Frog by Tate Nova & Courtney Powell

Episodic Screenplays Winner  ($500 Prize) – The Reservoir by Dylan Allen (Teleplay), Eddy Vallante + Dylan Allen (Story)

Louisiana Screenplay Competition Winners –
Thanks to the Louisiana Film & Entertainment Association for sponsoring a $1000 prize for the best screenplay from a Louisiana-based writer and a runner-up prize at $500.
First Prize – Empyrean by Meghann McCracken
Runner Up – Bird by Renso Amariz


The 29th New Orleans Film Festival’s Marquee sponsors are 21st Century Fox and New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation.

Chloe Wine Collection is the festival’s Official Wine Sponsor. The New Orleans Advocate is the festival signature Media Sponsor. The Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans is an official sponsor of the festival HUB.

Producing, Premiere and Premiere Trade sponsors include The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences,Auction House Market, Bond Moroch, the City of New Orleans, Cox Communications, Creative Film Connections, The Helis Foundation, Hilton New Orleans Riverside, Kyoto color, Louisiana Entertainment,Louisiana Office of Tourism, The New Orleans Hotel Collection, Panavision, Restore the Mississippi River Delta, Second Line Stages, Solomon Group, SGPS Showrig, True Value Rental, and VER.

Grantors include the the the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the Arts Council of New Orleans, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Greater New Orleans Foundation, The Helis Foundation, Jazz & Heritage Foundation, Louisiana Division of the Arts, South Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

ABOUT THE NEW ORLEANS FILM SOCIETYThe New Orleans Film Society discovers, cultivates, and amplifies diverse voices of filmmakers who tell the stories of our time. Founded in 1989, NOFS produces the Academy-accredited New Orleans Film Festival annually and invests year-round in building a vibrant film culture in the South to share transformative cinematic experiences with audiences, and connect dynamic filmmakers to career-advancing resources. Year-round programming includes free and low-cost screenings for members and the broader community of cinephiles in New Orleans, a 20-year running French Film Festival featuring contemporary and classic French cinema, and filmmaker professional development programs created to nurture diverse voices in filmmaking in the American South. NOFS is a 501(c)(3) organization.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Stephan James Stars In Amazon Prime Video's Drama Series 'Homecoming' Airing November 2

Stephan James stars in Homecoming

By Darlene Donloe

Stephan James is becoming quite the “it” guy.

In just a few short years he has appeared in some high profile projects both on the big and little screens, receiving positive reviews. His credits include Race, Shots Fired, Selma and the upcoming Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) film If Beale Street Could Talk in theaters in November.

Up next for the handsome Canadian is Homecoming, an Amazon Prime Video 10-episode drama series set to premiere November 2.

Homecoming, based on the popular podcast of the same name, is a psychological thriller directed by Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot) and starring James and Julia Roberts, Sissy Spacek and Bobby Cannavale. Roberts plays Heidi Bergman, a caseworker at the Homecoming Transitional Support Center, a Geist Group facility whose focus is to help soldiers transition back to civilian life. James plays Walter Cruz, one of the soldiers who is eager to begin the next phase of his life.  Overseeing Heidi and the facility is Colin Belfast (Bobby Cannavale), an ambitious company man whose manic demands point to questionable motives.

(l-r) Julia Roberts and Stephan James

Four years later, Heidi has started a new life, living with her mother (Sissy Spacek) and working as a small-town waitress, when a Department of Defense auditor (Shea Whigham) comes to her with questions about why she left the Homecoming facility. Heidi begins to realize that there’s a whole other story behind the story she’s been telling herself. 

To say this story is dark is an understatement. Esmail’s vision, approach, and directorial choices are fresh and appealing. The camerawork is exceptional and inviting – making the audience feel like they’re in the scene.  Homecoming has its own unique style.

James plays the role with just the right amount of youthful naiveté. 

Stephan James

I recently caught up with the popular thespian to talk about his Homecoming.

DD: Homecoming is dark. What criteria do you use when deciding to take on a role?

SJ: You look at character and sort of explore the depths of the project and who is involved. I look at who is starring and directing. Homecoming checked off all those boxes. It gives you a tone of what you’re getting yourself into. I mean there is this little actress named Julia [Roberts]. Walter was somebody I never got to play before. TV in a limited form is exciting.

DD: What kind of due diligence – or background work did you do to develop Walter, or was most of it on the page?

SJ: Most of it was on the page. He is past the point where he is not suffering from PTSD. He is just recovering and reacclimating, and normalizing things again.

DD: What do you like, not like about Walter?

SJ:  I like the fact that he has this innocence about him. It’s a double-edged sword. That’s his downfall, his innocence. It may have worked against him.  I can’t tell you any more because I don’t want to give it away.

(l-r) Kiki Layne and Stephan James in If Beale Street Could Talk

DD: Do you have to like a character to play him?

SJ:  I think so. I think you do. All of these characters are human. They are in this gray area – not black or white, just like most human beings. Even in the darkest of villains you have to like something about them to play them. You can always find something.

DD: Lots of things to watch on television. Why should we watch this?

SJ:  Why not? It’s Julia, Sam, and Amazon. It’s something you can binge. You can take in this whole piece in five hours. It’s exciting. It’s something you’ve never seen before. It’s visually appealing. Big credit to Sam [Esmail] and Tod Campbell.

DD: You’re doing some good work. You’ve done Race, Shots Fired, Selma and If Beale Street Could Talk.  What did you expect from show business and what did you get?

SJ: I think I have an interesting perspective on the business. I started working in Toronto. We have a different idea of the business. The star system that you have here - we don’t have in Canada. We tend to come from an artist standpoint. I got my feet wet in Toronto and then I got to come to Hollywood and do more work. I’m grateful for the perspective.

Stephan James in Shots Fired 

DD: What do you do to prepare for each role, each day, and each take?

SJ: Every project is different. You want to be prepared. My idea of preparation is doing homework the night before. It’s to be ready to give to other actors and directors. It’s to also be willing to receive. We feed off of each other.

DD: As an actor, how do you like to work? Do you like lots of rehearsals, no rehearsals, etc?

SJ: Some things require more rehearsals. I’m a fan of letting things happen organically and authentically. That’s when you get the best juice.

DD: Why did you want to become an actor?

SJ: I’ve always enjoyed playing people outside of myself. I thought it was comical to impersonate people. I’m telling different stories.

Stephan James as Jesse Owens in Race

DD: What does acting do for you?

SJ: It’s totally fulfilling. The day it’s not fulfilling, I’ll stop doing it.

DD: Do you learn something about yourself each time you finish a project?

SJ: Yes, 100 percent. Every role I take on changes me just a bit. It’s not only the character journey, it’s also about the people you get to work with. You don’t come out of those situations the same way you went in.

Homecoming, directed and executive produced by Sam Esmail, stars Julia Roberts, Stephan James, Sissy Spacek, Bobby Cannavale, Jeremy Allen White, Shea Whigham, Dermot Mulroney, and Alex Karpovsky.

Homecoming is executive produced and co-created by Eli Horowitz and Micah Bloomberg.

On the DONLOE SCALE:  D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likable), O (oh, yeah) and E (excellent), Homecoming gets an E (excellent).