PENNSYLVANIA IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS
By Lenwood Sloan
Pennsylvania Film Commissioner
As Pennsylvania’s new film commissioner and director of the PA Film Office, it is with profound respect and great anticipation that I join the tremendous alliance of individuals, agencies, unions and business partners who combine efforts to build Pennsylvania’s film industry. Today, 34 states provide film tax incentives. Through your efforts, Pennsylvania remains in the top 10 U.S. destinations for filmmakers and their projects.
The 2010-11 fiscal year closed June 30 with a total of 85 projects supported by the Pennsylvania film tax credit. This included 16 feature films, 61 television projects, three documentaries and five commercials. The $60 million credit generated more than $388 million in total PA production costs. Estimates of the total impact include: 4,688 full-time employees, 8,671 part-time employees, 28 paid trainees and 27 unpaid interns. A total of 3,693 days of shooting occurred in 31 of 67 counties.
The top film tax credit projects for 2010-11 included I Am Number 4, Abduction, One For the Money, Steeltown, Perks of Being a Wallflower, Dark Fields, Dinner Impossible, Outlaw, Teach and Noodle & Doodle Season 2. Congratulations to all the SAG members who participated in and benefited from these projects.
The film tax credit continues to be the major catalyst to draw work to the commonwealth.
Yet we all know that the industry effort is greater than the existence of the tax credit. Indeed, dozens of other features and literally hundreds of other television, documentary and commercial projects occurred without film tax credit support. These efforts were facilitated through the leadership of our two major hubs (Philadelphia Film Office and Pittsburgh Film Office) and our 12 affiliate regional offices across the states.
Throughout, SAG has been an invaluable collaborator! These nonprofit-nongovernment organizations have assisted the advance of Pennsylvania’s private-public partnership, whose signature brand identity includes spirit of enterprise, excellence of work force, and quality of service to the industry.
Last year, an invigorating army of advocates crossed the commonwealth to launch an incredible educational effort. From talent to teamster and crew to catering, Pennsylvania’s industry partners were well versed in communicating the importance and impact of the film office and its major resource, the film tax credit.
Throughout the early months of his administration, Gov. Thomas Corbett included the progress of the film industry and the impact of the film tax credit in his first major speeches to his constituents. The governor confirmed his support by providing $60 million in film tax credits for the 2011-12 fiscal year.
Thus, we are pleased to announce that the Pennsylvania Film Office is currently accepting applications for film tax credit support for projects July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012. Put simply, this means work for all industry partners! SAG members should consult the union’s variety of casting resources and tools for notification of these projects.
We are also pleased to announce the collaboration with SAG, AFTRA, Actors’ Equity and IATSE as we form an industry roundtable to better serve members and constituents. Specifically, we look forward to this roundtable’s technical assistance, communications, education, and outreach to two major hubs and 12 regional affiliate partners. These efforts will insure a truly unified field.
Our primary points of focus for the year ahead are stabilization of the film tax credit, enhancement of the production and post-production infrastructure, advancement of the film work force, diversity throughout the field, upgrade of communications tools and the increase of professional development opportunities for film industry professionals. In closing, I ask you all to “friend” us at facebook.com/filminPA and join me in communicating to film, television and media producers alike that Pennsylvania is indeed “open for business!”
Curt DeBor — actor, writer and producer of Point Breeze, Penn. died May 28, 2011.
Sept 5: Tri-State Labor Day Parade and Picnic. Parade from Columbus Boulevard to Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia. Join your fellow SAG, AFTRA and AEA members in the 24th Annual Tri-State Labor Day Parade and Family Celebration on Monday, September 5, 2011.
8 a.m.: Tri-State Labor Day Parade gathering at the Sheet Metal Workers’ Local 19 Union Hall, 1301 S. Columbus Blvd. (at Columbus Boulevard and Washington Avenue), Philadelphia, PA 19147
9 a.m.: Program
10 a.m.: Parade to Penn’s Landing Great Plaza at Columbus Blvd. and Market Street
11 a.m.-3 p.m.: Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO family celebration. Foods, refreshments, kids’ activities, make-and-take crafts. Music featuring the Urban Guerilla Orchestra.
Co-sponsored by the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO and the Tri-State Labor Day Parade Committee.
Sept 19: Tri-Union Workshop (Philadelphia), How to Turn a Non-Union Offer Into a Union Job with Sheldon Smith. Time and location to be sent in a future email to members.
Sept 27-30: Great Lakes Film Festival, Erie, Penn.
Oct 13-27: Philadelphia Film Festival (SAGIndie sponsored event).
Oct 15: Temple University Director/Actor Showcase, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Annenberg Hall. SAG Student Film Agreements explained.
Oct 17-19: Black Bear Film Festival, Milford, Penn.
Nov 4-19: Three Rivers Film Festival, Pittsburgh
Nov 9-13: Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival
Oct 14-16: Atlantic City Cinefest
Oct 21-23: Cape May Film Festival
Nov 4-19: Trenton International Film Festival
PHILADELPHIA BRANCH CONTACT INFORMATION
North Region Executive
Screen Actors Guild
1800 JFK Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Fax: (866) 226-6983
Marcia Fishman, Philadelphia Branch Executive Director
In the summer of 1952, a small TV studio in Philadelphia (WFIL now WPVI) was getting ready to launch a new show called Bandstand. In 1957, Dick Clark became the show’s host, took the show national and changed the name to American Bandstand. Many Philly natives and longtime SAG members like Frankie Avalon, Fabian Forte and James Darren were part of that magic. In kicking off our new feature, 5 Questions for…. We talk with two Branch members from the Bandstand days who are still rockin’ ‘n’ rollin’.
Photo courtesy Matt Petit / ©A.M.P.A.S.
5 Questions for Bobby Rydell
Branch member Bobby Rydell’s career spans six decades and encompasses every area of the entertainment world. His debut in the late '50s as a rock ‘n’ roll teen idol lead to starring roles in such hit films as Bye Bye Birdie and plays such as West Side Story. Bobby has made countless network TV appearances throughout the world on shows hosted by Ed Sullivan, Jack Benny, George Burns, Milton Berle and Perry Como, and of course American Bandstand. He was also a semi-regular on The Red Skelton Hour for many years.
We caught up with the busy Philadelphia singer/actor for an update.
1. What is your favorite movie?
BR- I love a good comedy film. I'm a big fan of anything Mel Brooks did. I often recite lines from his movies; they still tickle my funny bone.
2. A newly restored version of Bye Bye Birdie recently reunited you with co-star Ann-Margret. What are your favorite memories of that classic film?
BR- Would have to be the screen test I did with Ann-Margret. We just clicked. The director saw it and ordered scripts to be rewritten to expand my part. My role of course was Ann-Margret's boyfriend, Hugo Peabody. In the original Broadway version, Hugo didn't have more than a line or two and he didn't sing at all. Every day that I arrived on set I was handed a script that had more and more dialogue for me. Of course the big dance number I did with Ann was another big moment. I think I still have knee bruises from that scene!
3. What TV shows do you miss the most, and when not at home what is your schedule like these days?
BR- I really miss the big variety shows of days gone by — there really is a void there today. I had the privilege of working with all the best: Jack Benny, George Burns, Dean Martin, Red Skelton, Danny Thomas, Milton Berle, Joey Bishop.
I’m getting material together for a new album. We've been in touch with Tony Hatch in England, (he wrote my last million-seller Forget Him) and he is writing some new material for me for that album. I also just finalized a 2012 tour throughout Australia, where I've completed over 21 tours Down Under. Still touring solo shows and The Golden Boys (see tour page bobbyrydell.com).
4. You worked with some TV pioneers, but it always seemed like you had the most fun with Red Skelton playing Cousin Zeke Kadiddlehopper on The Red Skelton Hour on CBS. Tell us are the rumors true that the rehearsal before the taping was even funnier than the shows we saw at home?
BR- Yes, completely true. The rehearsals were known as "Dirty Hour.” It was side-splitting.
5. You have been a SAG member for many years. Do you remember how you felt when you earned your SAG card?
BR- Incredible feeling to be a part of this community. In fact, I have a project that has been presented to me for a film where I play a mob boss.
5 Questions for Jerry Blavat
The Geator with the Heater, The Boss with the Hot Sauce, describes only one man, Jerry Blavat. Jerry’s career started on Bandstand in Philadelphia, went national with his own dance shows, and has held faithful radio listeners and club-goers spellbound for decades. His energy lights up a room and his decades of community service make Jerry a true broadcast pioneer. The term “legend” truly fits Jerry Blavat because he has made his mark in TV, radio, nightclubs, films and now as author of You Only Rock Once (Running Press). If you have the energy to try and keep up with Jerry, you can follow him at geator.net.
1. You are so closely identified with Philadelphia and its rich roots in rock ‘n’ roll history, is it hard for you to watch a film and not think to yourself, “If I was doing this soundtrack, I would have used this song or that song to convey the mood”?
JB- If I was going to do a soundtrack on a movie concerning a love affair, I certainly would use I'm In the Mood for Love. You're Nearer, the great Rogers and Hart song that was originally used in the MGM movie, Too Many Girls and the Isley Brothers version of I Guess I'll Always Love You.
2. What is your favorite film and why?
JB- I have two favorite films: Casablanca because of the story line, the actors and the song, As Time Goes By, and Stagecoach because of John Ford, the director who used Monument Valley and real Indians in his scenes. Also, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and Rio Grande are other favorites of mine.
3. What is your favorite all-time TV program?
JB- Favorite TV show — I Love Lucy. The chemistry between the Mertzs and the Ricardos is pure fun. Next would be The Jackie Gleason Show.
4. What TV program would you most like to have been a guest star on?
JB- I would have loved to have been a guest on Hollywood Squares and What's My Line.
5. How did you feel when you earned your SAG card?
JB- Humbled to know that I was a member with so many wonderful and distinguished actors who I have admired my entire career.
Tom Atkins photo courtesy Kristin Garbarino
In our next issue in November, we pose five questions to Pittsburgh legend Tom Atkins, currently working on Judy’s Dead in Pittsburgh. Here is a preview:
What TV program would you most like to guest star on today and what role would you want to play?
TA: I would love to guest star on CSI (Las Vegas) as an old retired cop, maybe as the father of one of the running characters and have a recurring role... maybe help a little with old-fashioned police work in support of their high tech stuff. The same on The Mentalist. They're two of my favorites; I try never to miss them. I loved last season’s wrap up of The Mentalist, where Red John got it in the food court. I also like Boardwalk Empire a lot...I'd be good in that...I have an old-fashioned kind of face, and I wear those kind of clothes well, and I could still kick most of their asses.
Your efforts in support of the PA Film Tax Incentive have paid off with the passing of Gov. Corbett’s budget, which included the $60 million Film Tax Incentive. Thankfully, work has picked up in the state, and projects are currently filming in Pittsburgh and are in the pipeline for other areas across the region. The unfreezing of film incentive funds in the state of New Jersey has allowed projects to move forward. As we move forward in joint efforts of unity across our unions, please know that we are working diligently on initiatives that support the concerns of your Branch.
Through an initiative of the SAG National Ethnic Employment Opportunities Committee, the SAG Ethnic Employment Opportunities (EEO) Committee in Philadelphia came together in April for a membership caucus meet-and-greet. Powerful partnerships were formed that night with PHILAFILM Festival, resulting in two community outreach programs. The first was the Philadelphia Youth Media Conference in May. Branch member Barry Brait represented the Branch at the Education and Career Fair. In June, as chair of our committee, I represented the Branch at PHILAFILM's Digital Marketplace Panel and Workshop at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. A powerful new Branch partnership made possible by our National EEO Committee. The EEO Committee works to address matters of interest to SAG performers from underrepresented and underemployed racial/ethnic groups — exploring ways to promote more inclusive casting through diversity initiatives targeted at increasing equal employment opportunities and eliminating discrimination/harassment in the entertainment industry.
Photo courtesy Martin Regusters
Screen Actors Guild members in Pennsylvania, Delaware and southern New Jersey are very fortunate to have the Pennsylvania Film Industry Association working for them. Not only does PaFIA work on our behalf in Harrisburg, they also provide opportunities for members to meet industry professionals, and television and commercial producers.
Recently, in Philadelphia, PaFIA hosted a meeting with casting directors Nancy Mosser and Diane Heery: Casting: The Inside Story. Many of our members took advantage of this opportunity and introduced themselves to Nancy and Diane.
Nancy Mosser and Diane Heery. Photo courtesy Mike Kraycik & David Raynor (PaFIA).
PaFIA will continue to provide workshops as long as our members continue to be interested — and who isn’t interested in networking?
I am personally thrilled that PaFIA was established in Pennsylvania. Without its dedication and vision, we would not have the voice in Harrisburg that we have needed and now have. We now have that voice thanks to the lobbyist that PaFIA hired to ensure that the film industry is alive and well in our region. We must continue to support the work being done on our behalf. Please bring a friend to the next meeting of PaFIA. Bottom line, it is all about work.
Under the leadership of Conservatory Chair Mike Kraycik, the Branch kicked off the Philadelphia SAG Conservatory with a workshop on improv taught by Branch member Jill Whelan (Love Boat). Jill has been teaching improvisation for years. Members, including Alana Hixson from Pittsburgh, came from all parts of the Branch to learn from Jill. Special thanks to Joanne Calabria and CBS 3 for their hospitality, and thank you for the hard work of committee members Sylvia Kauders, Susan Austin, Ruth Weiman, Donna Dundon, Leah Cevoli, Harvey Jaffe, Barry Brait, Dan Rush and Gary Gustin, and to Larry DeGala for the photography.
Our Tri-Union Committee (SAG, AFTRA and AEA) continued in May and June to offer members educational workshops. In May we offered Presentation Skills and, in June, Temple University professor and longtime Philadelphia broadcaster Paul Gluck offered Teleprompter Skills. More workshops are planned, so stay tuned. Special thanks to AFTRA’s Steve Leshinski and Shelley Figures, and AEA’s Tom Helmer and Temple University’s Patrick Gordon.
Photo layout courtesy Mike Kraycik. Photos courtesy of Larry DeGala and Marcia Herbert.
Branch outreach efforts continue to grow as we join members and eligible actors. Metropolitan Philadelphia Entertainment Group (MPEG) was organized in an effort to bring all people in the entertainment industry together. In June, MPEG invited SAG and AFTRA to present union membership overviews to the group.
Photos courtesy of Larry DeGala.
Working with SAG is a new feature that spotlights Branch signatories and their SAG projects. Tim Chambers, SAG signatory and co-owner of Quaker Media, wrote, produced and directed The Mighty Macs. The film is the true story of the women’s basketball program at Immaculata College in 1972. The film was shot in the Greater Philadelphia area with actors who had to develop some new “habits.” The Mighty Macs is scheduled to be in theaters on Oct. 21, 2011.
by Tim Chambers
If you examine the history of inspirational sports movies, you will conclude that the most successful films in this genre typically use sport as a metaphor. Miracle wasn’t just about hockey, it was about the Cold War. Remember the Titans wasn’t just about football, it was about race relations. Similarly, The Mighty Macs isn’t just about basketball, it’s about the equality of dreams and how a young coach would not only unite people from different faiths but also change a generation of young women.
As a screenwriter, I needed to go through an evaluation process to determine what the film is about. I know the story, but what is the film? I was looking for several elements — great lead character, depth of supporting characters, obstacles faced, the impact the head coach had on her players, the social effects of the story and, most importantly, how does it end?
When I say, “How does it end?” the obvious answer is, “They win.” But quite frankly, I was more interested in what happened to these girls/this team after their playing days were over. More specifically, I wanted to explore the immortality of Cathy Rush’s influence. I was happy to discover that the impact the coach had on her players allowed them to succeed beyond their playing days. Some went on to be doctors. Several went on to coach basketball in college and in the WNBA — namely, Theresa Grentz, Rene Portland and Marianne Stanley.
All the ingredients were there. And now it was up to me and my team to recreate one of the greatest underdog stories in sports history. As I was writing the screenplay, I would always have visions of who could play the lead. After completing the script, my first goal was time to find an actress to play Cathy Rush. In my opinion, the real Cathy Rush was the “total package” — sassy, strong, charismatic, attractive, stylish and a natural leader. She was a woman ahead of her time.
I was very familiar with Carla Gugino’s body of work — Spy Kids, Night at the Museum, Sin City, etc. However, it was her work on a short-lived TV series I remembered most, Karen Sisco. This is where I saw her swagger. At the time I was casting, Carla was starring opposite Blythe Danner in a Tennessee Williams play in New York City. Her role in the play was very different than the head coach of an all-girls Catholic college in 1972, but her fiery commitment to the character was what I was looking for. Once I found the coach, I could build the rest of the team. At this point, I felt like the general manager of a sports franchise. I asked Carla to recommend other talent for the lead roles. She recommended Marley Shelton and Ellen Burstyn. We cast both. For the Ed Rush role, I was looking for a “man’s man.” In 1972, the relationship between husband and wife was much more traditional than it is today. I thought David Boreanaz was the perfect fit. Carla agreed.
When it came to casting for the seven girls on the team, I would not allow any of the actresses to read for roles until I saw them play basketball. My philosophy was simple — if the audience couldn’t buy in to their athletic talent, they would never buy in to the story. We auditioned over 500 girls in L.A., NYC and Philadelphia. Our biggest challenge was finding “athletes” who looked like they played in the 70s. The athletic build of the modern-day female athlete is much different today than it was 40 years ago. For all of the girls cast as team players, The Mighty Macs would be their feature debut.
For supporting roles, I was very committed to casting local talent. As a native Philadelphian, I was very familiar with the richness of talent in the area. Personally, I am not afraid to take risks, so I like giving local actors an opportunity to shine. As I look at the finished film, I am very proud of the performances from top to bottom. I was also very happy about the background actors that were available to shoot the crowd scenes. Clearly, I could not have accomplished this without the help and cooperation of the local SAG office.
QFest, which celebrates Philadelphia’s LGBT, arts and film communities, honored the film Punch Me from local signatory Blue Angel Entertainment, LLC. Punch Me, executive producers Lori M. Childress and Michael J. Panichelli Jr. Signatory, Blue Angel Entertainment, LLC. Produced by Gail Y. Bennett. Elwood Idris Simon, left, and Robert X. Golphin in Punch Me.
The New Hope Film Festival in New Hope, Penn. honored Dreaming American from signatory Lee Percy and actor/producer Praq Rado.
Branch actor/filmmaker Larry DeGala’s documentary The Macabre World of the Zombie Hunter was honored at the Las Vegas Film Festival.
John Kruk was inducted into the 2011 Phillies Wall of Fame at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. The lovable ballplayer’s career on the field gave Phillies fans thrills for years. His work in the community shows why this player-turned-broadcaster and actor won a place on the Phillies Wall of Fame and in the hearts of fans forever.
John Kruk. Photo ©The Phillies 2011.
Proud mom Jackie Rapp and Katelyn Rapp
By Jackie Rapp
We are the Rapps and we began our adventure into the acting arena five years ago. Katelyn (now 13) has worked and continues working through the ups and downs of being a child actress — and my husband Mike and I have worked hard every day to ensure her success, not only as an actress, but also as a well-adjusted member of society.
Over the last five years, Katelyn has had several opportunities to work in the business and has learned a lot about the business, people and life in general. She loves the auditions and the jobs she has managed to land and hopes to continue onward and upward. She has met many people and made friendships she continues to maintain, thanks to her endeavors in the world of acting.
In February 2011, Katelyn joined SAG and became an official card-carrying member. Katelyn’s becoming a member of SAG came on its own; it was not our goal or focus. Once Katelyn booked a few projects, she was required to join. Luckily, she had already had time to build her resume over the years before she became a “must join.” When we learned Katelyn was a “must join,” we were concerned: No more non-union work; will she get enough union work? Does she have enough experience on her resume already? Joining SAG is not a guarantee of work, but when Katelyn does work, she is able to start earning pension and health benefits. Also, being a member of SAG helps Katelyn get access to higher-paying auditions as well as residuals. In light of that, we took the “don’t panic” viewpoint when Katelyn had to join.
Although we have not noticed any real changes in the number of auditions Katelyn gets called for, we have seen the residual payments, and she has already earned back the money she spent to join. We believe and are hopeful the prestige of being a SAG member says that Katelyn has worked, been on a set and has real filming experience. We look forward to Katelyn’s acting future with confidence, knowing SAG will ensure she is not expected to live up to what is required of adults in the business.
Hopefully, one of Katelyn’s future auditions will lead to her “big break” and her dreams will come true —whatever her dreams may be. Until that happens, we are enjoying the experience!
If you haven’t done so already, please pay your dues today. If you are not an active paid-up member in good standing, you will not be able to serve on the council or committees in the future. You must also be paid to date to register on iActor, the Guild’s online casting program, which is now being used by casting directors nationwide. If you have any questions regarding your dues, please contact the Membership Department at (800) SAG-0767, prompt 2, or (212) 944-6243.
New Members of the SAG Philadelphia Branch, serving Pennsylvania, Delaware and South Jersey:
Timothy Breslin, John Brumfield, Mike Fagan, Howard F Hill, John Jillard, Becky Meister, Matthew Mindler, Eoin Andrew O'Shea, Nikita Romanov, Ahmir Questlove Thompson, Charles Edward Timbers, Morgan Wolk, Betsy G Wollensack
Charles Ameno, Manny Ayala, Michelle Cameryn, Dan Capp, Kimberly Carter, Kristin Carter, Devon Marcel Clark, Emily Cramer, Stacy Gabel, Marc Grayson, Aaron Jackson, Cheryl Ann Leaser, Anya Longwell, James Ludwig, Tom Rothenbach, Kreshnik Seseri, Vicky Vonachen, Elliot Z Waxman, Andrea Westby, Rochelle Williams, John Wister
Screen Actors Guild now offers free, paperless billing of your membership dues via your preferred email account. Once you enroll in Paperless Billing:
• You receive an email notification immediately when a dues statement is ready.
• View your entire detailed statement (an exact electronic copy of what you would receive by mail).
• View your entire dues bill from anywhere with Internet access, day or night.
• Print a hard copy of your bill, if you wish.
• Access previous billing and payment history up to the three most recent bills.
It’s yet another way we’re more efficiently serving you — cutting costs, making your billing instantaneous, and, as part of our ongoing green initiative, doing our small part to save the environment. Sign up here.
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