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2 items from 2000

Unknown Actor Lands JFK Role

26 September 2000 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Unknown actor Jeffrey Pierce is set for superstardom after being plucked from obscurity to play tragic JFK Jr. in a new biopic. British actress Joanne Whalley will play Jackie Kennedy, JFK Jr's mother, in the CBS mini-series "Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: A Life" (2000) (mini), which airs next month. And Whalley is so nervous about playing America's most famous first lady, she's refusing to talk about the role - and the fact producers picked a Brit to play Jackie O But Pierce is thrilled about playing the President's son, who died in a plane crash last year. He says, "I spent many hours perfecting John's speech and movements. There is a record of his life on film and paper from the time he was born so the research was a piece of cake." »

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Film review: 'A Texas Funeral' 'Texas Funeral' Lends Ear to Familiarity / Well-known actors populate Herron's overambitious indie family tale

18 April 2000 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

"A Texas Funeral" earns points for including sights one doesn't encounter often -- mostly entailing sequences with camels or ears -- but, overall, it's a giant story squeezed into the confines of a low-budget indie film with mixed results. Writer-director W. Blake Herron's semiautobiographical work is a higher-profile entry in the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival and boasts a cast of known actors including Martin Sheen, Joanne Whalley, Robert Patrick and Jane Adams.

There's plenty of family lore and dirty laundry in the Whit clan, and most of it comes out during the gathering for the 1960s funeral of Grandpa Sparta (Sheen). The impressionable lead character is his grandson, 6-year-old Little Sparta (Quinton Jones), a shy kid who has stopped talking in the way of tentative souls not sure who to trust. His father is recovering macho Zach (Patrick), contemplating a big family move, while Mom (Adams) is a no-

nonsense soul running out of patience.

Rounding out the Whits proper is Zach's superior-minded cousin Clinton (Chris Noth) and his religious wife Charlotte (Olivia D'Abo), Little Sparta's wild, institutionalized Aunt Miranda (Whalley) and eccentric Grandma Murtis (Grace Zabriskie), who leads the cult of women seduced by the "Whit ear". Also arriving for the reading of the will is Walter (Isaiah Washington), the son of Grandpa Sparta's former servant.

With Grandpa's favorite camel Robert E. also ready to pass on, Little Sparta is faced with certain manly rites and gets help from the beyond. Grandpa's ghost is joined by other Whits from the past, and the story of where the family camels originated is related in a full-blown flashback. Later on, a dark incident in the family's past is relived with consequences still being felt. Eventually, the will is read, leading to all-around emotional responses and a moderately messy series of upbeat resolutions.

While technically the film is more than adequate and the performances convincing, the script flops about in an attempt to give everyone their due, and the pieces don't always fit together smoothly, let alone decisively.


Dragon Pictures

Credits: Screenwriter-director: William Blake Herron; Producers: Damian Jones, Graham Broadbent; Executive producers: Julia Palau, Matthew Payne; Director of photography: Mike Bonvillain; Production designer: Jaymes Hinkle; Editor: Paul Trejo; Costume designer: Marie France; Music: James Legg; Cast: Zach: Robert Patrick; Mary Joan: Jane Adams; Walter: Isaiah Washington; Clinton: Chris Noth; Charlotte: Olivia D'Abo; Aunt Miranda: Joanne Whalley; Grandma Murtis: Grace Zabriskie; Grandpa Sparta: Martin Sheen. MPAA rating: R. Color/stereo. Running time -- 100 minutes.


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