Trio's Epiphany moving from 'Picture' to pictures
Booth bio, 'Steady,' 'African' on slate
By Jonathan Davies
Following the success of their two "Picture Windows" series for Showtime, Scott J.T. Frank, Dan Halperin and David Wesley Wachs have unveiled a diverse slate of projects that includes a feature on Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth and a television drama series that follows a free-lance camera crew on combat assignments.
Meanwhile, the trio's company, Epiphany, is in post production on "Steady Rollin'," a feature starring Glenn Plummer written and directed by music video director Detdrich McClure. The feature, submitted for the Sundance Film Festival, focuses on a pair of urban youths who take a cross-country motorcycle ride in an attempt to escape their past.
The "Steady Rollin' " project is far removed from Epiphany's inaugural "Picture Windows," the series of six half-hour vignettes executive produced by Norman Jewison that brought famous paintings to life under the guidance of such directors as John Boorman, Joe Dante, Peter Bogdanovich, Bob Rafelson and Jonathan Kaplan. One episode titled "Two Nudes Bathing" earned a CableACE award earlier this month for costume design.
Apart from "Booth," the story of Lincoln's assassin that is written by Jane Singer and Susan Grant, other features in development include 'The African," an interracial coming-of-age movie set in colonial East Africa written by Frank. "Sweet Home Chicago," a comedy written by Terry Schwartz ("Little Nikita") and Robert Birnberg and based on the short story by Stuart Dybek, tells of four teens who play blues and seek their fortunes together. The spiritually charged suspense story "los angeles," written by Amy Dawes, follows the reunion of a brother and sister whose fate is linked to a statue of an angel in a Malibu canyon.
The feature "Heaven Scent" is a farcical tale of a dog and a horse that are killed by gangsters but return as humans to get revenge and help an old friend.
On a more serious note, "Camp Logan" is based on a play produced by Frank and Halperin in Santa Monica, which relates the story of the largest mutiny and subsequent court-martial and execution in U.S.
history, which occurred in Texas at a black Army unit's barracks during World War 1.
"We're currently talking to some black stars to produce the project," Frank said. "It's not an easy story to sell, but it's important ... I don't want to knock any one over the head with my vision of what is racially correct, I just want to point out the questions."
On the TV front. Epiphany is developing a film titled "The Black Saint," the story of 19th century Haitian slave Pierre Toissaint, who is due to be canonized as the first Black saint. The other telefilm in development is "Rebs," with a screenplay by David Devane, in which Civil War re-enacters tackle a militia unit.
The medium for these projects may be television, but Halperin stresses that the company's mentality is very much that of filmmakers. "We come at this with the desire to make motion pictures," he said. "It comes at a very fascinating time. There's a lot of crosspollinating going on there are things on TV that look more like movies and there are things in the theaters that are more like TV. Of course, we lean more toward the film style in both mediums. We're trying to raise the level of the lowest common denominator."
Aside from following the TV camera crew into battle, the fictional series "Behind the Lines" will accompany the journalists as they document a tour of the White House hosted by Barbara Walters and explore the innermost vaults of the Vatican. "The Collected Stories of Herbert Pimm," an hour-long detective series, tells of a teen-ager who must find his father who disappears mysteriously.
Other TV projects in the pipeline include "Artifacts," a show developed by Anne Beatts, Jovin Montanaro and Henry Kimmel in which celebrity guests tell stories about weird objects they own; "Surfin USA" an hourlong comedy sketch series by the same creators; "Beyond the Seven Wonders." which explores the mysteries of the wonders of the ancient, modern, medieval and natural worlds; and a medical and cultural documentary entitled "Circumcision," that interviews such diverse sources as rabbis and prostitutes.