EXTRA! EXTRA! PASSINGS Busboy in Kennedy Assassination Photo Asks for Forgiveness: Connections (#31)

Kennedy Busboy Pays Tribute at Arlington Cemetary

As a skinny teenage busboy, Juan Romero knelt beside a mortally wounded Bobby Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.  On Saturday morning, more than 42 years later, he knelt again, this time beside RFK’s grave on what would have been Kennedy’s 85th birthday. Getting up the courage to visit Arlington National Cemetery was not easy for Romero, a construction worker from San Jose who has been haunted for decades by the events of June 5, 1968. Under a soft blue sky, with fall colors exploding across the velvety slopes of the cemetery, Romero walked off to be alone and have one last good cry before visiting the grave.Romero was wearing a suit for the first time in his life, saying it was the proper way to show his respect for a man whose memory he has tried to honor by living a life of tolerance and humility. “Sorry,” he apologized to his daughter, Elda, and friend, Rigo Chacon, who had made the trip with him from California. “If I can get it out of the way now….” Maybe a good cry would help him keep his composure, he said, when he finally stood at the grave.

Romero is kneeling at the senator’s side, comforting him. He was shot while shaking Romero’s hand. Ever since, he has felt partly responsible for his death. He believed that if he had not been so determined to congratulate Kennedy after winning the California primary, he might have seen and stopped assassin Sirhan Sirhan.

That busboy, Juan Romero, has lived the last 42 years trying to honor the memory of the man he admired.

The site of the shooting, Los Angeles’ Ambassador Hotel, has since become a learning complex named after RFK.

Copyright © 2010, Los Angeles Times

Photo: Busboy Juan Romero, 17, kneels by mortally wounded presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel on June 5, 1968. Credit: Boris Yaro / Los Angeles Times

I’ve been busy working in Los Angeles on the feature film “Atlas Shrugged.” The accompanying news story in the L.A. Times almost got by me. Such is the pressure-packed responsibility that I’ve been assigned to deliver this long-awaited motion picture based on the novel by Ayn Rand to theaters on April 15, 2011.  I promise I’ll speak more about “Atlas Shrugged” and share lots of interesting factoids with you in my future posts. But with the limited time I have, today it has to be all about RFK.

On June 5, 1978, I was running the Filmed News Dept. of KHJ-TV in Los Angeles. That’s when “film at eleven” was really “film at eleven.” I had just finished watching the celebration of RFK winning the Democratic California Primary Election on TV. Since it was broadcast live there was no need for my Film Crews or myself to be at the Ambassador Hotel.

Having just turned off the TV, my telephone rang. It was the News Desk at KHJ, who told me that RFK at been shot and I was to go to the Ambassador Hotel as fast as I could. I slipped on my clothing, ran out the front door and jumped into the KHJ-TV mobile unit parked in my driveway. I vividly remember speeding on the Ventura Freeway, weaving in and out and passing slower vehicles. Then the events become a blur. The next thing I knew I was inside the Ambassador Hotel Ballroom– the specifics of where I had parked and how I got inside are lost in the whirlpool of my emotions and fog of memory.

Nevertheless, there I was, standing alone in the very spot where RFK’s Victory Celebration had occurred earlier that evening. A uniformed LAPD officer stood guard at the doorway. Confetti littered the floor. Balloons were strewn about. My imagination ran wild and I heard the sound of the celebration in my mind. What I do remember is walking around the empty Ballroom and shooting footage of confetti on the floor and balloons dangling from the ceiling. Tears streamed from my eyes and blurred my vision, making it difficult to frame the images that Viewers would see on later that night on TV.

After leaving the Ambassador Hotel my next stop was Good Samaritan Hospital. RFK had been transferred from Central Receiving because of the lack of a qualified Neurosurgeon. I set up my Auricon sound camera next to all of the other film cameras in the dirt lot. The camera lenses were all pointed toward a solitary room, located on maybe the sixth or seventh floor, with its light on. Crowd psychology permeated the chilly night air and we all agreed that’s where RFK was fighting for his life.

RFK was mortally wounded and didn’t make it. He joined the likes of his brother JFK and Martin Luther King. The next and last time I saw RFK was on the south side of LAX. A transport plane was parked in an area that was cordoned off to the public and a fork lift was raising the U.S. flag-draped casket to the open cargo door where it disappeared inside.

Two years ago, I was invited by Miramax Films to a Special Screening of “Bobby” at the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard. All of the people who were at the Ambassador Hotel that night were asked to speak. We all shared our stories about what we had experienced that fateful week. For me, it’s that image of the flag-draped casket disappearing inside the cargo door of the aircraft parked at LAX that I shall never forget.


EXTRA! EXTRA! PASSINGS: Reflections on the Passing of Legendary Producer David L. Wolper: Connections (#24)

David L. Wolper in the '60s

David L. Wolper at Moviola in the '60s

On Tuesday, August 10th, the Los Angeles Times said the following:  ‘ David L. Wolper, the award-winning television documentary producer best known for the blockbuster TV miniseries “Roots” and for the spectacular opening and closing ceremonies he created for the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, has died.  He was 82.’ Los Angeles Times 08/10/2010 ©

Since then, I’ve been in a state of sadness.  I had heard that David had Parkinson’s disease, but nevertheless his death shocked me.  Maybe it was this picture taken in the early ’60s. It’s the young energetic man I remember seeing every  day in his production offices housed on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood.  I was 22 years old and David was 33.  The show I was working on was “Hollywood and the Stars,” aired on NBC, and it was my fist mainstream job in Hollywood.  I was Film Librarian, got into the Motion Picture Editors Guild, was sent to Puerto Vallarta to work as Assistant Cameraman on the making of “Night of the Iguana.”    I wrote about this in a previous blog about  the passing of Irwin Rosten, an alumnus of the Wolper organization and outstanding documentarian in his own right. It’s my belief that David L. Wolper was the greatest all-around Producer in the history of Hollywood.  I’ll state my case by excerpting portions of the 10/10/2010  L.A. Times article concerning his death.

David L. Wolper died Tuesday at his Beverly Hills home of congestive heart disease and complications of Parkinson’s disease, said Dale Olson, his longtime publicist.

The lavish production that Wolper staged for the Los Angeles Olympics is credited with setting new standards for host cities.Opening flourishes included an “astronaut” powered by a jet-pack who soared into the Coliseum and a card stunt involving the entire arena that displayed flags of every competing nation.

“Not until the Beijing Games in 2008 has anybody rivaled what he did as a volunteer and with a low budget,” Peter Ueberroth, president of the Los Angeles Organizing Committee for the 1984 Games, told The Times. “For the opening ceremony, he wanted to be sure to give everyone goose bumps — and it did.”

During his long career, Wolper oversaw the production of more than 300 films that have won more than 150 awards, including two Oscars, 50 Emmys and five Peabody Awards.

In 1998, TV Guide named him one of the “45 People Who Made a Difference” in shaping the medium of television. As one of TV’s top creative forces, Wolper’s “many contributions to broadcast history have embedded themselves in the American psyche,” the magazine said.

Before Alex Haley had even finished writing his 1976 bestselling saga tracing his family’s African heritage through seven generations to the present, Wolper purchased the TV rights.

When there were few faces of color on TV, “a show where the white people are the villains” didn’t “seem like a good idea,” Wolper later said. “But it was a family story, and you start rooting for them.”

Unsure whether the 12-hour 1977 miniseries would attract an audience beyond black America, ABC decided to air it over eight consecutive nights — a first for a TV program — to lessen the impact should it fail to pull in the ratings.

When “Roots” debuted on Sunday, Jan. 23, 1977, it turned into a nationwide cultural phenomenon.

To many, it felt like the entire nation was staying home to watch the series. At the time, “Roots” was the most-watched program in television history.

TV historian Tim Brooks called the miniseries “one of the turning points of American television.”

“Up until the time it aired, American television was fairly narrow in terms of storytelling. There was nothing that was told on a grand scale or with that kind of social meaning,” Brooks told The Times.

The groundbreaking show “touched many Americans on a personal level and provoked a public discussion about race,” he said. “It caused people to look up their own roots. And it gave rise to a whole new era of programming that was broader and more sweeping in its storytelling.”

The week the miniseries aired “was the most thrilling week of my career,” Wolper wrote in “Producer,” his 2003 memoir.

“We had made a program of which we were extremely proud, in many ways, the ultimate docudrama; we had told an intelligent, educationally important story — and the nation had responded,” Wolper said.

“Roots” went on to win nine Emmy Awards, then a record for a TV miniseries.

Ron Simon, curator for television and radio at the Paley Center for the Media, called “Roots” a “crowning achievement” for Wolper, a producer who was “the master of events” that could touch the country collectively.

Wolper was executive producer of another highly rated miniseries, 1983’s “The Thorn Birds.” He also produced such feature films as “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (1971) and “L.A. Confidential” (1997), but he remained a prolific maker of documentaries that included “The Hellstrom Chronicle” (1971), a feature-length production about the world of insects that won an Academy Award.

Born Jan. 11, 1928, in New York City, Wolper was an only child whose father sold commercial real estate. Wolper’s homemaker mother died of a ruptured appendix in her late 30s.

At USC, he studied cinema and journalism.  He was business manager for the campus humor magazine and became a lifelong friend of one of its editors, Art Buchwald.

“David is a very low-key guy who always gets what he wants,” Buchwald told People Magazine in 1984. “He always had a tremendous amount of chutzpah.”

To promote a musical comedy that Buchwald had co-written, “No Love Atoll,” Wolper showed up at the Academy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium with a student wearing a gorilla suit and a sign on his back promoting “No Love Atoll.” He got his promotional payoff when newspapers ran photos of the pair being escorted out of the ceremony.

In 1949, Wolper dropped out of USC to team up with his childhood friend, future movie producer James B. Harris, and others to market older short travel films that Harris’ father, Joe, had tried to sell to schools.

Wolper spent two years on the road selling the travel films, along with old B-movies, serials, shorts and cartoons, to the TV stations that were cropping up across the country and were desperate for product.

In 1951, he and his colleagues, operating under the banner of Flamingo Films, bought the TV rights to “Superman” and produced 26 episodes before selling the show to the Kellogg’s cereal company, which syndicated it. When Wolper left the distribution business in 1954, Flamingo Films was one of the biggest distributors in television.

After forming his own production company in 1958, Wolper launched his documentary career with a timely subject: “The Race for Space,” an award-winning documentary about the competing U.S. and Soviet space programs featuring exclusive government footage.

When CBS, NBC and ABC refused to air his independently produced documentary, Wolper lined up at least 108 TV stations around the country who televised “The Race for Space” in 1960.

The program’s success helped Wolper launch a stream of other television documentaries that would be shown on all three major networks.

By 1962, he was heading a 200-employee corporation, Wolper Productions, on Sunset Boulevard, with 40 editing rooms. Time magazine dubbed him “Mr. Documentary” and reported that “the three largest producers of documentary films for television are NBC, CBS and David Wolper.”

His company produced nearly 50 other entertaining and informative documentary specials in the 1960s alone, including “The Making of the President: 1960.” He also made “National Geographic Specials” and “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.”

Asked to produce the official documentary film of the 1972 Munich Olympics, Wolper took a novel approach: “Visions of Eight,” in which eight internationally known directors, including Milos Forman, Arthur Penn and John Schlesinger, interpreted different aspects of the Games.

A decade later, Wolper produced the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. He called the result “the biggest, most original, most tasteful, most emotionally evocative show ever done.”

The opening ceremony was a four-hour musical extravaganza that is especially remembered for the 84 pianists in baby blue topcoats with tails who played “Rhapsody in Blue” on white grand pianos while 300 dance corps members performed.

For his volunteer work producing the Olympic ceremonies, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences gave Wolper the Jean Hersholt  Humanitarian Award.

In 1986, the man Newsweek magazine hailed as the “Svengali of spectacle” produced Liberty Weekend, a celebration of the 100th anniversary and restoration of the Statue of Liberty.  The four-day extravaganza included thousands of fireworks, 265 tall ships and more than 20,000 performers.

Wolper was a devoted golfer and an avid collector of Lincoln memorabilia and Picasso sculptures.

He did not have a middle name and used the middle initial “L” to distinguish himself from an uncle with the same name.

Wolper was divorced twice.

He is survived by his third wife, Gloria, whom he married in 1974, along with three children from his marriage to actress Dawn Richard — Mark, Michael and Leslie — and 10 grandchildren.  Copyright © 2010 Los Angeles Times

EXTRA! EXTRA! EXTRAS: Exploring The Heavens, Being Down To Earth: Connections (#22)

Astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon after landing their lunar module.  Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

What’s the buzz about Aldrin?  People these days may recognize Buzz Aldrin as a rapper with Snoop Dogg or a constant on “Dancing With the Stars,” but first and foremost he was the second man after Neil Armstrong, to set foot on the moon.

Pat Morrison interviewed Aldrin at the L.A. Festival of Books back in April about his new book, “Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home.”  Was “Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear named after him, she wanted to know?  “Shall we check with Disney’s lawyers? Aldrin shot back.

Then she asked about her favorite chapter in the book, “The Blow Heard Around the World,” about a man Aldrin punched out for accusing him of being a liar and a coward, claiming the moon landing never happened.  When Morrison asked him to comment, the crowd erupted in cheers.

To support Buzz Aldrin in “The Blow Heard Around the World” and his defense against the Clown who accused him of being a liar and a coward, claiming the moon landing never happened,” I can say with authority because I was at the bar that night,  that same sound effect was used in NASA’s creation of the moon landing,and became part of Folk lore but because it never happened it mistakenly became part of “The Blow Heard Around the World.”  Copyright © 2010 Los Angeles Times

For more on Buzz Aldrin, see my Blog dated April 15, 2010.

EXTRA! EXTRA! PASSINGS: Irwin Rosten Dies at 85; Documentary Filmmaker: Connections (#20)

Irwin Rosten, shown in 1977

Irwin Rosten, an award-winning documentary filmmaker perhaps best known for “The Incredible Machine,” which took PBS viewers on a revolutionary voyage inside the human body in 1975, has died. He was 85.  Rosten died May 23 at his Hollywood home after a brief illness, his family said.

He was the writer, director and producer of “The Incredible Machine,” an early National Geographic special that had “extraordinary impact,” said Nicolas Noxon, a documentarian who was Rosten’s longtime business partner.

“It was very, very popular and sort of opened people’s eyes to what could be done with a documentary,” Noxon said.”It was groundbreaking for its time.”

Medical researchers had been making inroads in taking pictures inside the human body — such as sending cameras into the digestive system or taking microphotographs of blood — but Rosten was perhaps the first “to collect all that data and put it together” for public viewing, Noxon said.  “The Incredible Machine” remained the highest-rated show in the Public Broadcasting Service’s history until 1982. It was nominated for an Academy Award, the second of two nominations that Rosten received. “The Wolf Men,” a 1969 documentary that he produced about the hunting of timber wolves in North America, also had been nominated. Rosten would go on to create such programming as “Mysteries of the Mind,” an Emmy-winning documentary for PBS about the human brain, and “Elephant,” one of many projects that featured animals.

The rising popularity of documentaries in the early 1960s “was simply a question of television catching up with the public,” Rosten told The Times in 1963 as he cited the popularity of nonfiction books and magazines.

In the 1960s, Rosten worked for David L. Wolper, a major independent producer of documentaries, and made a number of National Geographic specials. They included an early Jacques Cousteau documentary and another about the grizzly bear.

When “Grizzly” was nominated for an Emmy, Rosten’s friends and colleagues placed an ad in Variety that his family said included this disclaimer: “This space paid for by the admirers of Irwin Rosten, a modest man who cannot be trusted to blow his own horn.”

He was born in 1924 in Brooklyn to immigrants from Russia and Poland who owned a drugstore.

After working for the DuMont Network in New York, Rosten moved to Los Angeles in 1954 and joined CBS affiliate KNXT. One of his highly regarded projects was “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” a 1958 documentary that examined capital punishment.

Writing in 1959, The Times’ Cecil Smith described Rosten as a “young man with magic in his pen.”

Two years later, he moved to KTLA-TV Channel 5 to become a writer-producer of documentaries and special programs. One of his final documentaries for the station was 1963’s “Split Image,” which was about Camarillo State Hospital’s patient-operated closed-circuit TV.

While working for Wolper, Rosten met Noxon, and the pair eventually jumped to MGM and set up the studio’s documentary unit. Their first venture was a 1968 documentary on Clark Gable.

As early as 1963, The Times referred to Rosten and Noxon as “one of the finest young teams of documentary makers.”

Rosten was known for mentoring others and was a terrific cook — Chinese food was a specialty, said his son, Peter, a former movie and TV producer.

The elder Rosten traveled the world in pursuit of his subjects, going to Japan to film parts of the 1970s National Geographic specials “Gold” or to Russia to record “The Volga” about the major European river.

As was often the case, Rosten returned with a story that amused him. A Soviet news agency official had proposed arm-wrestling to decide whether a Soviet or American film crew would be used on “The Volga.” Rosten’s heftier National Geographic colleague took the challenge, but the match ended in a draw. Crews from each country were used.

In addition to his son, Peter, of Darby, Mont., Rosten is survived by his wife of 23 years, Marilyn Ryan.  Services were private. © 05/29/2010 L.A. TIMES

I worked with Irwin Rosten and Nick Noxon at David L. Wolper Productions in the early ’60s. Two of the nicest and most talented men a young filmmaker could ever meet.  I was Film Librarian and had lots of daily contact with both of them.  In later years, I would occasionally run into Irwin Rosten at Writers Guild of America Film Society screenings.  I have screen credits with Irwin on Wolper’s “The Immortal Jolson,” “How to Succeed as a Gangster,” “The Funny Men Parts One and Two,” “The Angry Screen,”  “The Oscars Moments of Greatness Parts One and Two.”  He was a triple threat man serving as Writer and Producer, and occasionally Director.  I, along with many others, will surely miss Irwin Rosten.  God Bless.

EXTRA! EXTRA! EXTRAS: Bret Michaels Out Of Hospital: Connections (#18)

I intend for this to be my last update on Bret Michaels, for now

Michaels was released yesterday from Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, AZ, and is expected to make a full recovery after suffering a brain hemorrhage last month.

Barrow is among the world’s leading neurological centers and is the home of the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center.

Dr. Joseph Zabramski, chief of cerebrovascular surgery at the Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, said he recommended that Michales wait at least four to six weeks before resuming normal activity. He declined to say when Michaels could resume touring. Doctors will examine Michaels every two weeks until he’s recovered.

This seems to end the speculation about whether or not Bret will put in an  appearance at the “Celebrity Apprentice” finale on May 23.  Whenever Bret’s able to come back, I’m sure that his loyal fans will celebrate the occasion.

As a teenager I had a summer job parking cars in the Clubhouse section of Garden State Race Track in Delaware Township, New Jersey, later to become Cherry Hill.  A big black Cadillac stopped and the Driver looked me up and down. “Have you ever been in a boxing ring,” he asked.  I said, no.  He gave me his business card: “If you want to become a professional boxer I can make you The Champion of The World.”  The name on the card was Angelo Dundee.  He was a Boxing Trainer and a few years later became the Trainer of “The Greatest,” Muhammad Ali.

Lured by the glamor and promise of the Motion Picture Industry, I came to Hollywood. Here, you step into the ring every day and fight for ten or twelve hours, not rounds.  Your opponent has multiple faces and is an unrelenting adversary.  You cannot tire, or run, it is a fight to the finish.   All, so you can produce that really special motion picture you believe in.

For more on Bret Michaels,  see my Blogs:

EXTRA! EXTRA! EXTRAS: Bret Michaels in Critical Condition at Hospital: Connections (#17) Published 04/23/10.

EXTRA! EXTRA! EXTRAS: Bret Michaels Recovering From Surgery in Facility for Diabetics: Connections (#14) Published 04/15/10

EXTRA! EXTRA! Back into the Limelight: Connections (#7) Published  03/12/10.

EXTRA! EXTRA! TV Academy Considers Dropping The Theme Song Emmy Prize: Connections (#16)

I’ll be brief.  It started with the category of TV Theme Music being shut out of the prime-time telecast.  Now the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is considering eliminating this category all together.  What a shame!

Once-upon-a-time, there were the effervescent Latin pop of “I love Lucy,” the dark march of the “Dragnet” theme, the hopeful soft-rock of the theme to “The  Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

Remember the reign of Mike Post, whose vast catalogue of themes included “The Rockford Files” and “Hill Street Blues.”?

Now some theme music amounts to pieces too short to nominate, like giving out an acting award for best “sigh” or a screenwriting prize on the basis of a well-chosen adjective.

Indeed, host Neil Patrick Harris joked about this very thing on last year’s Emmys broadcast, comparing the rustling cord that introduces “Lost” — the Ad Reinhartd “Black Painting” of TV openings — to that of “Gilligan’s Island”:  The last time there were people on a desert island, there was a song about it and, dagnabbit, it was awesome.”

Nevertheless, TV Theme Music — old-style, original singable themes are still standard in “tween” television, which at the moment is dominated by actors who have  secondary, or in some cases primary, singing careers: Miley Cyrus of “Hannah Montana” (theme song: “The best of Both Worlds” top 20 in Ireland) is only the most successful example). Copyright © 2010 Los Angeles Times

So, the verdict is still out.  Is the pace of television so fast as not to have the time for theme music? And what about the end credits?  They’ve been reduced in size and move so fast they’re illegible. You be the judge.

Earlier this year Nathan Scott died at 94, film and TV composer, arranger and conductor.  He was the arranger for composer  Walter Schumann, who wrote the famous DUM-DE-DUM-DUM theme for Jack Webb’s popular police show “Dragnet.”  The theme for “Dragnet” cracked Billboard’s Top 10 at number 3 in 1953.

In 1969 I filmed the “This is the City” mini-documentaries that proceeded each episode and were accompanied by this same theme music.  Who can forget DUM-DE-DUM-DUM: “Dragnet’s” theme song.

Sgt. Dan Cook, whose badge was 714, and became the title of the “Dragnet” re-runs in syndication, was the LAPD’s Public Information Officer.  I met him while  directing the TV documentary “Police Unit 2A-27,” for KNBC and its O&O Division.  Sgt. Cooke  showed the documentary to Jack Webb, who invited my associate Noel Nosseck and me  to a screening of our TV documentary, “Police Unit 2A-26” at Universal Studios.  I’ll never forget that day in the screening room when Jack Webb showed the documentary to the Universal Executives, including Sid Sheinberg and Frank Price, and at the conclusion of the screening asked, “How come these two kids made a better show for $3,500 than I was able to do at Universal for $100,000? The silence was deafening. In a nutshell, that’s how I ended up filming the mini-documentary openings for “Dragnet -69,” and later on with the help of this introduction, I signed a seven-year term contract as a Producer, Writer, Director with Universal City Studios — now NBC Universal.

EXTRA! EXTRA! When I’m not Alone: Connections (#15)

My wife Marcia does video editing for Board Resource Center, an organization working with the California Department of Developmental Services to help adults with developmental disabilities become more self-reliant.  Through this relationship I was introduced to a unique individual, Sam Durbin. We instantly bonded and I volunteered to be his mentor, guiding him toward his goal of writing a book, his 2nd.   He lives in Orange County, so we usually communicate via phone and email, and on occasion meet in person.  Our initial meeting was at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in (of course) Beverly Hills.  The meeting was about individual self determination and that grand hotel was the perfect setting for it.  I’ll let you in on a little secret.  You sacrifice nothing to become the mentor of a person with disabilities. In fact, I’ve been inspired in my role as Sam’s mentor.  Part of this process has been to attend meetings with persons with developmental disabilities in Sacramento, California. On several occasions I’ve volunteered as a video cameraman, helping to shoot projects that Marcia edits. On  one such occasion, I shot video for a project dealing with the fact that all people have human rights.   While in Sacramento I had the good fortune to meet  Rhianon Gutierrez, a student at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Video Arts in Orange, California, who decided to do a documentary of Sam’s life – “When I’m Not Alone” – as her senior thesis. The documentary has won many awards, including the Loreen Arbus Focus on Disability Scholarship from the College Television Awards, held by the Academy of TV Arts and Sciences Emmys Foundation.  I’m proud to have a “Thank You” credit on this important documentary film.“When I’m Not Alone”

Rhianon & Sam at Emmys

Rhianon Gutierrez & Sam Durbin at Emmys

Sam’s story is gripping and it took a lot of courage to reveal it.  Born female, Sam’s father raised Sam as a male for 28 years.  During that time Sam suffered unspeakable abuse, escaping only after his father died, and drifting in and out of institutions. After finding Integrity House, in Orange County, he learned to read, write, and advocate for himself and others with disabilities.  I am so proud to know Sam.


Emmy Statue

“When I’m Not Alone”  will screen at the Newport Beach Film  Festival on April 23rd.  It will screen along with three other films, including fellow CTA Winner and Academy Award nominee for Best Live Action Short, “Kavi.Extra.”

“When I’m not Alone” has also been accepted to screen at the Society for Disabilities Studies Conference at Temple University in Philadelphia this June!

Three years ago, Marcia and I were invited guests at the Newport Beach Film Festival for the screening of “Camille,” directed by  Gregory Mackenzie, produced by Mackenzie and Academy Award winning Producer Albert S. Ruddy, starring James Franco and Sienna Miller.  I was Post Production Supervisor on this wonderful comedic heart-felt movie.

Sienna Miller & James Franco