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Kevin Gillese once considered his film project about love, disability and family a long shot. No more. The comedy, titled How to Ruin the Holidays, has been funded in part through a Kickstarter campaign and will be shot later this year.

Gillese, who spent 10 years as artistic director of Dad’s Garage Theatre, stepped down to get more involved in independent film. He’d already written and produced short films and web series as director of Dad’s Garage TV, a job he has returned to. COVID-19 shelved the film project, but in April — more than a year since the pandemic struck — he launched the Kickstarter campaign having no idea what to expect. He raised $118,620 from 816 backers worldwide. A private investor contributed a similar sum of money.

How to Ruin the Holiday - kevin gillese june 2021

Kevin Gillese says he wants to show how diverse the developmentally disabled are, something Hollywood hasn’t done in his opinion.

Gillese wrote the script and will produce but not direct. That task will go to Arlen Konopaki, Gillese’s friend and improv partner for 15 years. Konopaki has had films at the Toronto International Film Festival (he and Gillese are Canadian) and SXSW. Dad’s Garage will be the production company.

Comic Colin Mochrie (Whose Line is it Anyway?), a frequent Dad’s collaborator; actor/improviser Amber Nash (Archer and Gillese’s wife); and Henry Zebrowski (Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell) headline the cast. The story features a character with a developmental disability (played by Atlanta actor Luke Davis) and the complicated realities his family must face. Gillese’s younger brother, Mark, is developmentally disabled.

Davis starred in Gillese’s 2018 sports short, That Was Awesome!, which played several film festivals. As we were making it,” Gillese says, “I thought to myself, ‘This is the first time in my life I am taking comedy and combining it with something else I am passionate about and have something to say in a personal way.’”

The energy between Gillese and his brother — only a year apart in age — was synthesized in the script.

Gillese says he wants to show how diverse the developmentally disabled are, something, in his opinion, Hollywood hasn’t done. “You have to fit into a certain niche,” he says. “There is only one type of character that can be portrayed and that is sweet as pie, wouldn’t hurt a fly, kind of bland. That has not been my experience.”

Gillese expects to take three weeks to shoot the film, most likely in December.

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ALMOST FOUR DOZEN PROJECTS are filming in Georgia now, or will soon be. Of those, 17 are TV shows, 15 are reality series, 12 are feature films, two are TV pilots and one is a TV movie. Here’s a look at some of what’s percolating.

STUDIO FILMS

An unlikely duo — Andy Garcia and singer Gloria Estefan — headline yet another remake of FATHER OF THE BRIDE for Warner Bros. That may explain why they were spotted together at a recent Atlanta Braves game. You no doubt recall the 1950 original with Spencer Tracy and the 1995 version with Steve Martin and Diane Keaton. Also in the new cast is Adria Arjona (True Detective). 

On Location june 2021

Elizabeth Taylor and Spencer Tracy in the original “Father of the Bride” (1950). Andy Garcia and Gloria Estefan are the biggest names attached to the latest remake.

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Forbidden love, an unsolved murder and an investigation all come together in A JAZZMAN’S BLUES, which recently shot in Macon. Atlanta’s Tyler Perry wrote the script more than 25 years ago. He’ll direct.

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MOONSHOT finds a woman pursuing her boyfriend after he has moved to Mars. The Warner Bros. release features Lana Condor and Cole Sprouse as the couple. Christopher Winterbauer (Wyrm, Bald Love) directs.

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In SECRET HEADQUARTERS a young boy learns about the secret space beneath his house and that it belongs to a . . . superhero. Owen Wilson is the only cast member credited so far. The team of Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (Paranormal Activity 3, Catfish) directs.

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On Location june 2021

Oscar winner Helen Mirren is attached to “Shazam! Fury of the Gods.”

This column recently noted that the sequel to Warner Bros.’ 2019 SHAZAM will be filmed here. It’s now titled SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS, with Adam Brody, Zachary Levi, Luci Liu and the exquisite Helen Mirren in the cast. Look for it in 2023.

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STRANGERS — which looks to be the long-planned reboot of Strangers on a Train from director David Fincher (Mank, The Social Network) and his Gone Girl lead actor Ben Affleck — is listed on the Georgia Film Commission site as a Netflix project. Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) wrote the script.

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THE VALET, a remake of a 2006 French film, features Amaury Nolasco (Prison Break), Ravi Patel (Transformers), John Pirruccello (Godzilla vs. Kong) and Samara Weaving (Ready or Not). It’s the tale of a movie star and a valet who pretend to be a couple. Richard Wong directs and Lionsgate will distribute.

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TELEVISION

THE WALTONS’ HOMECOMING, a CW project likely to air during the holidays, will revisit the cherished 1970s TV series and mark the 50th anniversary of The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, the TV movie that started it all. The cast includes Logan Shroyer (17-year-old Kevin on This Is Us) as John Boy Walton and Bellamy Young (first lady Mellie Grant on Scandal) is his mother, Olivia. Richard Thomas, the original John Boy, has signed on to narrate. To date, he’s the only original cast member returning.

On Location june 2021

Actor Richard Thomas, who won an Emmy playing John-Boy Walton in the 1970s CBS drama, returns to narrate the new TV movie.

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ABC has ordered a pilot for PROMISED LAND, about two Latinx families pursuing wealth in Sonoma Valley. Matt Lopez (TV’s Gone) is the writer and an executive producer.

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The second season of the spicy drama P-VALLEY, about strippers at a Mississippi club called Pynk, is underway for Starz. Its creator is the award-winning playwright Katori Hall (The Mountaintop, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical). The series is based on her play Pussy Valley.

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The variety show SOCIAL SOCIETY, from the AMC streaming platform ALLBLK, features live performances and entertainment news for and by Black artists and viewers. Of course, anyone else can watch, too. Kendall Kyndall (Games People Play) hosts.

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According to promotional information, the crime drama REAL MURDERS OF ATLANTA portrays the “shocking, sinful and salacious cases of homicide that highlight the boundaries between gentrified Southern dynasties, hip-hop hustlers and the flashy nouveau riche of this metropolitan mecca of music, entertainment and tech.” Oxygen plans an early 2022 debut.

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Finally, the HBO limited series THE STAIRCASE is revving up for production. Harrison Ford was to star, but Colin Firth now has the lead role. The dandy supporting cast includes Oscar winner Juliette Binoche, Toni Colette, Rosemarie DeWitt and Parker Posey. The drama follows a novelist and his wife’s suspicious death. The Staircase team hopes it becomes another of the network’s strong limited series, like The Undoing and Mare of Easttown.

 

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