A Thousand Acres
Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning best-selling novel, “A THOUSAND ACRES” follows the saga of the Cook family, headed by the indomitable patriarch, Larry Cook (JASON ROBARDS). Cook’s kingdom is a fertile farm that spans 1, 000 acres, but the seeds of its destruction are sown when he impulsively decides to distribute it among his three daughters, Ginny (JESSICA LANGE), Rose (MICHELLE PFEIFFER) and Caroline (JENNIFER JASON LEIGH). The apportioned land soon begins to divide the family. Long-guarded secrets, unspoken rivalries and denied desires, buried just beneath the surface of their respective lives, are unwillingly unearthed, with profound, catastrophic and ultimately liberating repercussions.
PolyGram Filmed Entertainment presents in association with Beacon Pictures and Propaganda Films, a Via Rosa Productions/Prairie Films Production “A THOUSAND ACRES”. Directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse, the screenplay is by Laura Jones, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Jane Smiley. The producers are Marc Abraham, Steve Golin, Lynn Arost, Kate Guinzburg and Sigurjon Sighvatsson. Executive producers are Armyan Bernstein and Thomas A. Bliss. Co-producer is Diana Pokorny.
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION: THE NOVEL
“A THOUSAND ACRES” began to materialize as a film in 1991, prior to the publication of Jane Smiley’s novel. Lynn Pleshette, Smiley’s agent, sent the manuscript to both Kate Guinzburg and Lynn Arost, who, serendipitously, had offices next to one another at the time.
“We were given the book in galleys”, Guinzburg recalls. “Michelle Pfeiffer and I had started our production company, Via Rosa Productions, and our offices were right next door to Lynn Arost and Jessica Lange’s. Lynn and I became friends, and were actively looking for material for Michelle and Jessica to play sisters. When we read A Thousand Acres we knew that was it. Both Jessica and Michelle loved the book’.
“My response to the novel was purely an emotional one”, Michelle Pfeiffer says of her immediate interest in the literary property. “It just moved me. The themes are so universal, and so timeless. In the end it was just a very hopeful story”.
Jessica Lange agrees. “I read the book before it won the Pulitzer, and there was something about Jane Smiley’s voice, and the relationship of the sisters and this powerful father in the story. It touched on such familial themes in such an immediate, visceral way. Even before the idea of my playing the character Ginny, it was the beauty of the writing that attracted me.”
So began what Guinzburg refers to as the “saga” of making “A THOUSAND ACRES”. “We did the very un-Hollywood thing and decided we could all work together,” Guinzburg says. “We decided to join forces to make the movie.”
At this point, both Beacon Pictures and Propaganda Films became interested in making “A THOUSAND ACRES”. Beacon’s Marc Abraham explains how the two companies came together.
“Beacon and Propaganda became excited about the prospects of doing the film so Steve Golin (Propaganda) and I decided that , rather than create a competitive situation, we could use our mutual enthusiasm as fuel to get the project off the ground. Along with Kate and Lynn, Beacon and Propaganda decided to make it a co-producing and co-financing deal.”
Upon publication, the novel quickly became a best-seller, and also won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1991. Inspired by Shakespeare’s epic tragedy, “King Lear”,
Smiley tells the story of a father dividing his kingdom amongst his daughters, bringing on the terrible consequences that divide his family and force them to face the truth about themselves and each other.
“This is a story that settles in the darkest recesses of your mind and stays there,” describes Marc Abraham, producer. “Days, weeks, after I put the book down, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The family drama, the fierce loyalties and the rivalries, the secrets, the desires – these are all powerful emotional flashpoints that make “A THOUSAND ACRES” so haunting, so memorable.”
It was the story’s connection to “King Lear” that attracted director Jocelyn Moorhouse to the project. “Ever since studying ‘King Lear’ in school, I thought I’d love to make a movie out of it,” Moorhouse
says. “It’s a story that has moved me for as long as I’ve wanted to be a director. Jane Smiley took the ‘Lear’ story and told it from a different point of view, from the outlook of the daughters, Goneril and Regan, who become Ginny and Rose”.
The storyteller in Moorhouse was stirred by the complex levels of emotion that swirl through “King Lear” and Smiley’s modern rendition of it. “I love the different layers of the story,” she says “On one level it’s about power versus love and on another, it’s about different generations, about the old relinquishing power to the young and how frightening and destructive that relationship can be. Those themes intrigue me.”
While Jessica Lange and Michelle Pfeiffer had committed to the film very early in the development, the actresses didn’t automatically decide which sister they would portray. Gradually, Lange turned towards Ginny, the well-intentioned but repressed eldest Cook daughter while the role of Rose, the blunt-speaking, tightly-wound middle sister, attracted Pfeiffer.
“Ginny is an interesting character for me because I haven’t played anybody like her before,” Lange says. “She has a big arc in this film which I like. I always like characters who travel that emotional distance”.
For Pfeiffer, playing Rose was a very moving experience. “Rose is the truth-sayer in the piece,” the acclaimed actress says. “She has this uncontrollable urge and need to purge and to tell the truth. I’ve known women like Rose and I think in many ways they suffer a lot in life because they aren’t always able to protect themselves. I found her very incredibly brave, and honourable. I respected her tremendously.”
“I think their choices show very good instincts,” notes director Moorhouse. “Both Jessica and Michelle are very sharp, film-literate and deeply passionate about the project. Jessica often plays these vital, almost wild characters and here she is playing someone who is very repressed and introspective, kind of on a slow burn and I think it’s great. I don’t think she’s done that before, not to this degree, and that gives her character so much power, so much magnetism. And Michelle, it’s exciting to see her playing such an angry, passionate part. She’s played fiery characters before, but not with this character’s edge, there is a scary edge to Rose and Michelle is compelling playing her; she is such a brave, tragic fighter.
It’s exciting for me to have them doing these characters in this movie because they’ve never worked together on-screen”.
With two of the three leading roles set, the crucial casting of the remaining sister remained.
The role of the indecisive youngest sister, Caroline, who denotes an explosive family secret, ultimately went to Jennifer Jason Leigh. “I think Jennifer looks as if she could be their sister,” Moorhouse says,
“because in appearance she is a bit of a mixture of Jessica and Michelle. I thought it was also an advantage that she is a fair bit smaller than them and I liked that because in the story she is psychologically like their daughter. I also think Jennifer has great affection for the character, which is vital. I wanted the audience to empathise with her, to see the humanity in Caroline and in her actions, because she is wounded in her own way. Her methods may be brutal but she is always motivated by what she perceives to be love.”
The role of the indomitable patriarch, Larry Cook, ‘Daddy’ to his daughters, an imposing character, required an actor who could embrace paradox, and who had the ability to convey emotions both subtle and extreme. A longtime admirer of Jason Robards – specifically recalling his performance as the millionaire Howard Hughes in ‘MELVIN AND HOWARD’ – Moorhouse cast him in the role.
Robard’s describes Larry Cook as a tyrant who,”Lords his power over everybody. If he’s given his due, he’s fine. If he’s not, there’s trouble. It all comes from his own anger and fear.” The affable and outgoing Robards is the antithesis of the Cook character, and consistently lightened the mood on the set with humorous asides after spewing some of Cook’s vitriolic soliloquies directed at his daughters.
To play Ginny and Rose’s husbands, Ty Smith, a laconic, good-natured man with narrow dreams, and Pete Lewis, a volatile character whose youthful ebullience has given way to the disillusionment of middle age, Moorhouse cast Keith Carradine and Kevin Anderson respectively.
Moorhouse saw in Anderson a “real chameleon”, who has been very convincing in films like “SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY” and “HOFFA” and who played the role of Rose’s (Pfeiffer’s) husband Pete with a wounded bitterness that gave him a compelling edge.
Carradine embodied the “good man with no gratuitous frills” that the director wanted for the role of Ty Smith, Ginny’s (Lange’s) husband. He displayed this Sense of decency, on camera and off. A celebrated musician, Carradine regularly brought his guitar to the set and started impromptu jam sessions, crooning folk tunes while accompanied by Kevin Anderson on the harmonica.
As Jess Clarke, a childhood friend of the Cook sisters who returns home to further fracture the already divided family. Moorhouse cast British actor Cohn Firth. “I didn’t deliberately cast a Brit,” says the director. “I was just looking for an intensity and an unusual troubled quality. I loved him in “VALMONT” and “APARTMENT ZERO”, and thought he was really good in “PRIDE AND PREJUDICE”, too. He has a very strong presence.”
With the cast in place, production on “A THOUSAND ACRES” began on location in Illinios.
ABOUT THE LOCATIONS
Although the story is set in Iowa, most of the filming took place on several farms in lllinois, their rambling white clapboard houses and acres of corn serving as interior and exterior sets.
“I see the Cooks as a royal family and their empire is their land,” Moorhouse says. “The corn is visually claustrophobic and very serene and expansive, which is an interesting contrast. Because of the flatness, there’s no privacy. They can see into each other’s houses, into each other’s lives and Daddy can see them all. I’m interested in that because he has a certain level of control over them if he can see them.”
“Even the physical setting of the film creates conflict,” states producer Abraham. “Daddy’s house is directly across the street from Rose’s and Ginny’s not a stone’s throw away. The farms we chose in Rochelle, Illinois, are peaceful, quiet, simple homesteads – the most unlikely settings for the crumbling of a dynasty.”
The story has Rose’s house directly across from Daddy’s and no location featured this particular idiosyncrasy. Undaunted, production designer Dan Davis supervised the construction of the facade of Roses’ place – an impressive American Gothic house with a sprawling porch and cracked walkway, a spinning windmill, a barn and a field of young corn stalks. This shell of a house sat opposite the real farm house which served as Daddy’s domain. The production design and art departments decorated the interior of Daddy’s house with old-fashioned, sombre wooden furniture and walls with faded lacy wallpaper and dark, inlaid panelling. A cluttered room decorated with various farm hats, awards, proclamations and snapshots of tractors served as Daddy’s office. An adjacent den, with its faded furniture, family photos and rag rugs, doubled as the production’s video playback room when not being used in a scene.
The colour scheme of these interiors, as well as more elaborate ones production designer Davis erected on locations and sound stages in Los Angeles, tended toward muted earth tones of putty and pale green. “For a story as dramatically charged as this one, simpler is always better, so I chose more restrained and understated colours.” Davis says.
While in Illinois, the film company was based in the small farming community of Rochelle, a town which provided an uncanny replication of the one that harboured the Cook family in the novel.
Surrounded by a sea of corn, bordered by several highways, themselves flanked by prosaic shopping centres and a ubiquitous Wal-Mart, Rochelle boasts a small downtown that is home to a bank, a post office, a pharmacy, a card shop, an antique shop, a women’s clothing store, a pub known as The Pour House and several clubs, including a VFW Lodge and a Masonic Temple. The latter doubled as the setting of the church social at which Harold Clarke, a neighbouring farmer played by Pat Hingle, publicly humiliates the Cook sisters.
“A THOUSAND ACRES” filmed in Illinois, from late August to early October 1996, thereafter moving to Los Angeles. Interiors filming in Los Angeles included a hospital, a Denny’s restaurant, a courthouse built at the former Hughes Aircraft facility and the Warner Warehouse, where the interiors of Daddy’s, Rose’s and Ginny’s houses were re-created. Matched to the actual interiors shot in Illinois these sets were much more mutable and film-friendly. Entire walls could be removed and replaced to accommodate camera angles. The backyard cornfields and barns of Illinois were photographed and hung as one-dimensional backdrops on the sets in Los Angeles
ABOUT THE COSTUMES
Costume designer Ruth Myers, whose goal was to create a wardrobe that was an authentic representation of the clothes worn in a small-town farming community, found her inspiration, as well as the actual items, in the village of Rochelle and surrounding environs.
“There has been a lot of reality to the clothes in this film,” Myers notes. “Several items were found in catalogues, but a lot came from the local Wal-Mart and shops in Rochelle. Things were over-dyed and altered to fit the scene and the actor, but the essence is that they have come from a small town. They look like real clothes because they are, as opposed to a Hollywood version of ‘country’ and that’s been the fun of it, really. The actresses have been incredibly good about wearing these very un-glamourous clothes. Both Jessica and Michelle spend quite a bit of this film in clothes that cost less that $50.”
Myers, whose costumes for the film “EMMA” induced a wave of empire-waisted dresses in the fashion world, notes that the challenge of “A THOUSAND ACRES” was to achieve this realistic look in the wardrobe.
“The interest of the film for me was to take a modern film that should have wardrobe that is essentially ‘store-bought’ and use the same rules I would for a big costume film. It’s been years since I’ve done anything like this; I usually do films that require designed clothes, but I think, in it’s own way, this is an equally challenging job. Each character has their own set of rules as to who they are and the clothes underscore that. The clothes give clues to their identities.”
Myers assigned each character a distinct palette and cut of clothing, both of which would change slightly as the events of the story affected their lives. In Myers’ mind, Lange’s Ginny was the lynchpin of the entire script: “She is a thoroughly good woman and I wanted to keep a feeling of purity and spiritual cleanliness about her. Her clothes are always very clear in colour, lots of blues and greens, clean like water, as well as some light yellows, like sunshine. Only at the very end, after everything has happened to her, does she go to saturated or dark colours.”
The costume designer felt it was important to garb Michelle Pfeiffer’s character, Rose, in “more obviously sexy things, so the audience feels that she has always expressed herself in a sexual way and has always defined herself through sex. That’s her way of dealing with what happened to her. Rose’s colours are a mixture of yellow and brown, with a few flirty pinks and powder blues, to convey the feeling that this is a more complex person than Ginny.”
Myers envisioned Caroline, as portrayed in the film by Jennifer Jason Leigh, as a self-centred individual who has rejected farm life for a career in the city as a lawyer. “Caroline is the one who has invented herself, with no background, so a lot of her wardrobe has been done with the idea of the anonymity of catalogue shopping,” observes Myers. “I wanted to convey that Caroline did not know who she was and that her clothes are very rehearsed. She defines herself by pictures she sees in catalogues.”
Myers’ first feature film, “ISADORA” starred Jason Robards, and she worked with him again on Walt Disney Pictures’ live-action feature “SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES”, so “A THOUSAND ACRES” offered an opportunity for a happy reunion with the actor. Because his character is the central figure around which the sisters’ lives revolve, Myers knew his wardrobe had to be distinctive.
“Jason was the only one I tried to keep in a classical mode,” she says. “He starts the film in coveralls, a dark all-in-one suit and when he goes out into the storm in his ‘mad’ scene he’s in an off-white, very simple shirt. There are elements of classical theatre, of Greek tragedy, in his clothes, even though they are totally modern equivalents. Very simple T-shapes, very strong physical presences.”
Myers had previously worked with director Jocelyn Moorhouse on “HOW TO MAKE AN AMERICAN QUILT” on which they had established a good creative rapport. “I don’t have to go through lengthy explanations,” Myers explains. “Jocelyn knows how I work and where I come from
artistically. Some directors just want clothes to be decoration and this is no great interest to me. Jocelyn appreciates how wardrobe can be involved in support of the characters.”
ABOUT THE CAST
MICHELLE PFEIFFER (Rose) recently starred in the romantic comedy “ONE FINE DAY” with George Clooney, a project she executive produced. She also starred opposite Robert Redford in the Romantic drama “UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL”, and the summer of 1995 box office hit
“DANGEROUS MINDS”, based on the true story of an ex-marine whose unorthodox teaching methods eventually win over a class of inner-city students.
She earned Oscar nominations for her performances in “DANGEROUS LIAISONS”, as an ingenue trapped in a Machiavellian game of love and power; “THE FABULOUS BAKER BOYS”, in which she portrayed a feisty, sexy singer; and “LOVE FIELD”, playing a sheltered woman from the rural South in the early 1960s whose interest in Jackie Kennedy takes her on a journey that profoundly changes her life.
Other film roles include that of an affected actress in “SWEET LIBERTY”, a frustrated suburban woman turned to lusty sorceress in “THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK”, a Soviet woman caught in a web of espionage in “THE RUSSIA HOUSE”; a mafia moll in “MARRIED TO THE MOB”, Batman’s feline nemesis in “BATMAN RETURNS”, and a scandalously independent single woman of the late 1800’s in “THE AGE OF INNOCENCE”. She also appeared in “SCARFACE” and “FRANKIE AND JOHNNY” opposite Al Pacino; “TEQUILA SUNRISE” with Mel Gibson and Kurt Russell; and gave a mesmerising performance in director Mike Nichol’s modern-day werewolf tale, “WOLF”.
JESSICA LANGE (Ginny) won the Academy Award for best Actress in 1995 for her portrayal of an Army Officer’s tormented wife in “BLUE SKY” opposite Tommy Lee Jones; and received the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role opposite Dustin Hoffman in “TOOTSIE”. She also gained
Academy Award nominations for her bravura portrayal of actress Frances Farmer in ‘FRANCES’, as well as subsequent nominations for her work in “COUNTRY”, “SWEET DREAMS” – in which she played legendary country singer Patsy Cline, and “MUSIC BOX”. Lange’s other film credits include “KING KONG”, Bob Fosse’s “ALL THAT JAZZ”, Bob Rafelson’s “THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE”, “CRIMES OF THE HEART”, “EVERYBODY’S ALL-AMERICAN”, “FAR NORTH” directed by Sam Shepard, “MEN DON’T LEAVE”, Martin Scorcese’s “CAPE FEAR” opposite Robert De Niro, with whom she re-teamed for “NIGHT IN THE CITY”, and director Michael Caton-Jones’ epic tale of the Scottish warrior, “ROB ROY”. She recently completed two films. “COUSIN BETTE”, directed by Des McAnuff, also starring Elizabeth Shue; and “BLOODLINE”, written and directed by Jonathon Darby.
Lange appeared on television in 1992 in the critically acclaimed telefilm “0 PIONEERS” based on the Willa Cather novel, and in the same year debuted on Broadway as Blanche DuBois in “A Streetcar named Desire”. In the spring of 1996 she reprised her “Streetcar” role in the CBS miniseries, again opposite Alec Baldwin and for which she received an Emmy Award nomination, and later that year in London at the Haymarket Theatre.
JENNIFER JASON LEIGH (Caroline) is known for the vivid characters she has created for a wide variety of intense and memorable film roles. She has recently starred in Robert Altman’s cinematic paen to Kansa City Blues in “KANSAS CITY”. The film marked her second association with the director, with whom she first collaborated on “SHORT CUTS”, his critically acclaimed homage to writer Raymond carver. She incarnated the famous wit Dorothy Parker in director Alan Rudolph’s “DOROTHY PARKER AND THE VICIOUS CIRCLE” and starred opposite Kathy bates in the psychological thriller “DOLORES CLAIBORNE”.She won The New York Film Critics’ Circle’s Best Actress Award for her portrayal of a troubled singer in “GEORGIA” and in 1996 appeared in “BASTARD OUT OF CAROLINA”, a Showtime telefilm directed by Angelica Houston. She will soon appear in Agnieska Holland’s upcoming feature “WASHINGTON SQUARE”, opposite Albert Finney, and Stanley Kubrick’s “EYES WIDE SHUT”.
Other credits include the Coen brother’s eye-popping comedy, “THE HUDSUCKER PROXY”, Barbet Schroeder’s “SINGLE WHITE FEMALE”, Ron Howard’s “BACKDRAFT”, the Hollywood satire “THE BIG PICTURE” directed by Christopher Guest, “MIAMI BLUES”, “LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN”, “RUSH”, “THE HITCHER”, “THE MEN’S CLUB”, “HEART OF MIDNIGHT”, and Amy Heckerling’s classic teen comedy “FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH”.
JASON ROBARDS (Daddy) won consecutive Oscars in 1976 and 1977 for his portrayal of Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee in “ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN” and for his performance as novelist Dashiell Hammet in “JULIA”. He also received an Academy Award nomination for his
memorable depiction of eccentric millionaire Howard Hughes in Jonathon Demme’s “MELVIN AND HOWARD”.
He began his illustrious career on stage , coming to prominence with the spectacular 1956 Broadway production of Eugen O’Neill’s “THE ICEMAN COMETH”. The following year, he starred in the playwrights’ “LONG DAYS’ JOURNEY INTO NIGHT”, for which he won the New York Drama Critics’ Award. He later starred in the Broadway production of “A THOUSAND CLOWNS” – a role he re-created for the 1956 movie – and went on to win a Tony award in 1959 for his work in “THE DISENCHANTED”
Robards made his film debut in “THE JOURNEY” in 1959 and went on to appear in “BY LOVE POSSESSED” and in the film version of E Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “TENDER IS THE NIGHT”, for which he received widespread critical acclaim. In 1962 he reprised his stage role in the film realization of “LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO THE NIGHT” and portrayed playwright George S. Kaufman in “ACT ONE”. He played Al Capone in “THE ST. VALENTINE’S DAY MASSACRE” and legendary gunfighter Doc Holliday in “HOUR OF THE GUN”.
Other film credits include “TORA! TORA! TORA!” Sam Peckinpah’s films “THE BALLADS OF CABLE HOGUE” and “PAT GARRET AND BILLY THE KID”, “ISADORA”, “JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN”, “MAX DUGAN RETURNS”, “SQUARE DANCE”, “BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY”, “THE GOOD MOTHER”, “PARENTHOOD”, and “QUICK CHANGE”.
On television, he has appeared in several telefilms and miniseries including “HAYWIRE”, as legendary Hollywood agent Leland Hayward, “THE DAY AE FER”, “THE LONG HOT SUMMER”, “LAGUNA HEAT”, and “INHERIT THE WIND”, for which he won an Emmy Award.
COLIN FIRTH (Jess) starred opposite Ralph Fiennes in the Academy Award winning feature “The English Patient” and won tremendous acclaim for his portrayal of the dashing Mr. Darcy in the BBC Television production of “Pride and Prejudice”, for which he received a BAFTA nomination. He recently starred in “Fever Pitch”, directed by David Evans.
Born in Hampshire, England, Firth bowed in the London stage production of the spy drama “Another Country” and made his screen debut in the 1984 film version of the play. Other feature credits include “A Month in the Country”, “Apartment Zero”, “Valmont” and “Wings of Fame”. He also starred in the television film “Hostages”.
He recently completed starring opposite Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in “World of Moss”, directed by Hugh Hudson for producer David Puttnam.
KEITH CARRADINE (Ty) began his perfuming career in the Broadway production of the counter- culture musical “HAIR”. Years later, he returned to Broadway to star in the title role of the hit Tommy Tune- directed musical “THE WILL ROGERS FOLLIES”. He recently starred in the feature “THE TIE THAT BINDS”, starred in the television miniseries “DEAD MAN’S WALK”, based on Larry McMurtry’s best-selling book, and in “THE LAST STAND AT SABER RIVER”, which was the Turner Network’s most watched telefilm, ever.
In 1971, he made his film debut in the western “A GUNFIGHT”, with Kirk Douglas and Johnny Cash, and that same year was featured in Robert Altman’s “MCCABE AND MRS. MILLER”. Carradine collaborated again with Altman, starring in “THIEVES LIKE US” and “NASHVILLE”, in which he sang “I’m Easy”, which he composed, and for which he won the Academy Award for Best Song.
Through Altman, Carradine met filmmaker Alan Rudolph, who directed the actor in several features: “WELCOME TO L. A.”, “CHOOSE ME”, “TROUBLE IN MIND” and `THE MODERNS”.
Additional films include “THE DUELLISTS”, “OLD BOYFRIENDS”, “PRETTY BABY”, “THE LONG RIDERS”, “SOUTHERN COMFORT”, “MARLA’S LOVERS”, “ANDRE” and “2 DAYS IN THE VALLEY”;among others. Carradine will soon be seen starring in the feature films “PRAIRIE FIRE” and “HUNTER’S MOON” scheduled for release in 1997-8, and is currently at work as the lead in “FAST TRACK” a one-hour dramatic series for Showtime executive produced by Larry Gelbart.
KEVIN ANDERSON (Pete) will bring his impressive background in film and theatre to television this fall with the highly anticipated ABC series “NOTHING SACRED”. Anderson will portray Father Ray a priest who struggles with his own humanity, and his desire to put the needs of his parishioners before the teachings of the church.
Anderson follows the debut of “NOTHING SCARED” with the release of three motion pictures (including ‘A THOUSAND ACRES’). He stars opposite Martha Plimpton in “EYE OF GOD”, a powerful drama about a newly religious ex-con who marries his prison pen pal. He also co-stars with Sophie Marceau in the romantic drama “FIRELIGHT”.
Raised in rural Illinois, Anderson’s original aspirations leaned towards music – he sang and played the drums. However, he was compelled to pursue an acting career after his performance in a school play was met with an enthusiastic audience response. He continued performing in plays and competing with the forensics speech team in high school before heading to Chicago to study acting at the Goodman School of Drama (DePaul University).
After college, Anderson, was asked to join the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago. Over the next four years, he appeared in such classic plays as “OUR TOWN”, “TWELFTH NIGHT”, “THREE SISTERS” and “ORPHANS”.
Anderson then moved to New York to appear in the off-Broadway production of “Orphans”, directed by Steppenwolf alumnus Gary Sinise. His portrayal of the semiliterate neurotic brother of Philip gained national critical acclaim, earning him the Chicago- area theatre’s Joseph Jefferson Award for Best actor, and the New York Theatre World Award for Best Newcomer. This career breakthrough led him to London for the West End production opposite Albert Finney, and culminated in his starring in the film version directed by Alan J. Pakula.
He continued to work in both film and theatre. On Broadway, Anderson appeared in “Orpheus Descending” opposite Vanessa Redgrave, and later reprised this role with Redgrave for the TNT Cable network. He also starred as Joe Gillis opposite Patti Lupone’s Norma Desmond in the London stage premiere of “Sunset Boulevard”.
Anderson made his feature film debut in “RISKY BUSINESS”, and followed with starring roles in “MILES FROM HOME”, “IN COUNTRY”, and “SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY”, opposite Julia Roberts. His film credits also include “RISING SUN”, “THE NIGHT WE NEVER MET”,
“LIEBESTRAUM” and his memorable portrayal of Robert E Kennedy in Danny DeVito’s “HOFFA”.
Anderson stays close to his Chicago roots by remaining a member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company.
PAT HINGLE (Harold Clark) is one of Hollywood’s most beloved character actors. Hingle began his career in live television. He created characters on such classic series as “THE TWILIGHT ZONE”, “HAWAII FIVE-0”, “M* A* S* H”, “GUNSMOKE”, “CHEERS” and “MURDER, SHE WROTE”.
His film credits run the gamut from “ON THE WATERFRONT”, “SPLENDOUR IN THE GRASS”, “NEVADA SMITH”, “BLOODY MAMA”, “HANG ‘EM HIGH” to contemporary hits like “NORMA RAE”, “THE FALCON AND THE SNOWMAN”, “THE GRIEVERS” and the “BATMAN” series of films, in which he has a recurring role as Commissioner Gordon.
Hingle has made command performances at The White House and The Library of Congress. He is now appearing in his twenty-third play on Broadway as Ben Franklin in “1776”.
RAY BAKER (Wallace Crockett) has enjoyed success in motion pictures, television and Broadway theatre productions. Among his more memorable feature film credits are “EVERYBODY’S ALL- AMERICAN”, “RAIN MAN”, “TOTAL RECALL”, “ED WOOD”, “CAMP NOWHERE”,
“SPEECHLESS”, “SILVERADO”, “PLACES IN THE HEART”, “SILKWOOD” and “THE FLOOD”.
On television, Mr. Baker was a series regular on the CBS drama “UNDER SUSPICION”, and previously starred on Fox’s “GREAT SCOTT!” NBC’s “DOWN HOME” and ABC’s “HEARTBEAT”.
He also starred in the made-for-television movies “ELEANOR AND FRANKLIN; THE WHITE HOUSE YEARS”, “AT MOTHER’S REQUEST”, “DISASTER IN SILO 7”, “SHE SAID NO” and “IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH”.
A veteran of the Broadway stage, Mr. Baker appeared in such hits as “I’m Not Rappaport”, “Torch Song Trilogy”, “Is There Life After High School?”, “Crimes of the Heart”, “Division Street” and “Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been”.
JOHN CARROLL LYNCH (Ken La Salle) most recently appeared as Walton in the box office hit “FACE/OFF”, and starred in Joel and Ethan Coen’s Academy Award winning success “FARGO”. His other film credits include “VOLCANO”, “GRUMPY OLD MEN”, “FEELING MINNESOTA”, “THE
CURE”, “THE FAN” and “BEAUTIFUL GIRLS”, as well as the upcoming features “RESTAURANT” and “SIMON” with Bruce Willis.
For television, Lynch appeared in NBC’s “IN THE LINE OF DUTY: HUNT FOR JUSTICE”, and episodes of “THE CLIENT”, “FRASIER” and “MURDER ONE”.
A native of Denver, Colorado, John received his BEA from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He worked at the Arena Stage, Folger Theatre and the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. Prior to his recent move to Los Angeles, John spent eight years in Minneapolis at the Guthrie Theatre where he performed in over 30 productions including “The Zoo Story”, “Home”, “As You Like It” and “The Man Who Came To Dinner”.
ANNE PITONIAK (Mary Livingstone) began acting while attending school in Westfield, Massachusetts, and continued to appear in college productions while earning her degree at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Following graduation, Pitoniak went on to raise her family before returning to acting classes under the tutelage of the Lee Strasberg Institute. She then went on to work in commercials before being cast in the off-Broadway production of “ALL THE WAY HOME”. Other stage roles followed and she was invited to work at The Actors Theatre of Louisville. During her 5-year tenure there, Pitoniak appeared in many productions including Marsha Norman’s “GETTING OUT”, for which she originated the role of the mother. She later toured with that play in Yugoslavia, Israel, and Ireland.
In 1982 she was cast in the New York production of “TALKING WITH”. Later that year, she originated the role of Thelma in Marsha Norman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “NIGHT MOTHER”, playing first in the original Boston production, then on Broadway and in subsequent regional productions.
Additional Broadway credits include “The Ocette Bridge Club”, “Pygmalion” and “Picnic”. Pitoniak was nominated for two Tony Awards for her work in “Night Mother” and “Picnic”, and nominated for an Obie Award for her work in “Pygmalion”. While Pitoniak was with the play “Night Mother.” in Boston, she was cast in her first feature film, “THE SURVIVORS”.
Her additional motion picture credits included “AGNES OF GOD”, “SISTER, SISTER”, “HOUSEKEEPING”, “OLD GRINGO”, “BEST SELLER”, “BALLAD OF THE SAD CAFE” and “V.I WARSHAWSKI”.
On television, Pitoniak has been seen as a series regular on “AFTER M*A*S*II” and guest-starring roles on “HILL STREET BLUES”, “CHEERS”, “THE EQUALIZER”, “NEW YORK UNDERCOVER” and made-for-television movies including “NO PLACE LIKE HOME”, “MIRACLE OF THE HEART: BOYSTOWN” and “THE CHRISTMAS TREE”.
VYTO RUGINIS (Charles Carter) is another lawyer involved in the Cook family’s personal war.
Among Ruginis’ more prominent feature film credits are “PHENOMENON”, the soon-to-be-released “DEVIL’S ADVOCATE” with Al Pacino, “BROKEN ARROW”, “CLIFFHANGER”, “CASUALTIES OF WAR”, “MADE IN HEAVEN” and “8 MILLION WAYS TO DIE”. On television he co-starred in
HBO’s acclaimed film “CRIME OF THE CENTURY”. His other TV appearances include the movie- of-the-week “DEADLY SEDUCTION”, “CRIME AND PUNISHMENT”, “CIVIL WARS” “THE COMMISH”, “NASH BRIDGES”, “LAW AND ORDER”, and a three-part episode of “WIOU”. He also starred in the CBS miniseries “KANE AND ABEL”.
Ruginis has also achieved success in the theatre. He appeared on Broadway in director Mike Nichols’production of “The Real Thing”. His off-Broadway and regional credits included “Becoming Memories”, “One of the Guys”, “Total Eclipse”, “Of Mice and Men”, “Flash Floods”, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”, “Visions of Simon Marchand” and director Des McAnuff’s production of “Romeo and Juliet”.
Ruginis graduated from the University of Illinois with a BA in Theatre, and earned his MFA in acting from Yale University School of Drama.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
JOCELYN MOORHOUSE (Director) a native of Melbourne, Australia helmed “HOW TO MAKE AN AMERICAN QUILT”, her first American-made film, in 1995. She and Lynda House co-produced P. J. Hogan’s 1994 black comedy “MURIEL’S WEDDING”. Prior to that, Moorhouse had attracted the attention of American audiences with her award-winning unconventional psychological drama “PROOF” starring Hugo Weaving and Russell Crowe, which she wrote, directed and co-produced with Lynda House.
LAURA JONES (Screenplay) wrote the script for “THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY”, and also penned Jane Campion’s “AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE”, for which she won New South Wales Premier’s Prize for Screenwriting, as well as Best Screenplay at the New Zealand Film Festival. Jones also wrote the original screenplay for Gillian Armstrong’s “HIGH TIDE”, for which she won her first Premier’s Prize.
Upcoming projects include “THE WELL”, adapted from Elizabeth Jolley’s novel, and “OSCAR AND LUCINDA” which was adapted from Peter Carey’s novel. “OSCAR AND LUCINDA” stars Ralph Fiennes and Cate Blanchett and is directed by Gillian Armstrong. Jones’ television credits include the ABC TV dramas “EVERYMAN FOR HIMSELF” and “COLD COMFORT”, Jones is currently writing the screenplay adaption of Frank McCourt’s memoir “ANGELA’S ASHES”.
JANE SMILEY (Novelist) won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, among others, for her best selling novel A Thousand Acres , which transplanted the myth of Shakespeare’s . ‘King Lear’ into a modern American Gothic landscape. She was born in Los Angeles, grew up in St. Louis and studied at Vassar and the University of Iowa, where she received her Ph.D. In addition to A Thousand Acres her works of fiction include The Age of Grief, The Greenlanders, Ordinary Love and Good Will, Born Blind, and Moo.
MARC ABRAHAM (Producer) is president of Beacon Communications, one of the industry’s most innovative and aggressive production companies. Abraham formed Beacon in 1990 with Armyan Bernstein, the company’s chairman.
Beacon’s recent films include the action thriller box office hit “AIR FORCE ONE”, starring Harrison Ford as the President of the United States and the upcoming “PLAYING GOD”, starring David Duchovny and Timothy Hutton.
Beacon Communications is known for critically acclaimed, award-winning films such as “THE COMMITMENTS”, which won four BAFTA Awards, Keith Gordon’s well received “A MIDNIGHT CLEAR”, starring Ethan Hawke, and David Mamet’s “A LIFE IN THE THEATRE”, which won a CableACE Award for Best Dramatic special. Beacon also produced “SUGAR HILL”, starring Wesley Snipes, “PRINCESS CARABOO”, starring Phoebe Cates and Kevin Kline, “THE ROAD TO WELVILLE”, directed by Alan Parker and starring Anthony Hopkins, and “THE BABY-SITTER’S CLUB”, based on the best-selling series of books from Scholastic Magazine.
Abraham’s entry into film began with the documentary “PLAYING TO WIN”, an inside look at the Cuban athletic system. He authored several screenplays for such companies as Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros., and CBS, and wrote the popular series “21 JUMP STREET” and “MOONLIGHTING”.
In 1990 Abraham won a Writer’s Guild Award for “The Earth Day Special”.
Abraham began his career as a copywriter for Young and Rubicam in New York City after graduating from the University of Virginia. He left advertising to concentrate full time on a writing career and freelanced as a sportswriter for many newspapers and magazines including Los Angeles Times and Golf Magazine where he covered the PGA’s Western Tour. He also wrote two books on the International Olympic Games for Universal Press.
STEVE GOLIN (Producer), Chairman of Propaganda Films, attended New York University Film School and worked as a commercial photographer before he entered the American Film Institute’s Producer Program in 1981.
In 1986 he co-founded Propaganda Films, which quickly set a new creative standard in the music video and commercial industries. As one of the most prestigious production houses in America, Propaganda has created videos for such artists as Madonna, Michael Jackson and The Rolling Stones, as well as commercials for clients including Nike, Coca Cola and Budweiser.
The feature films Golin has produced include “WILD AT HEART”, “TRUTH OR DARE”, “RED ROCK WEST”, Barry Levinson’s “SLEEPERS” starring Brad Pitt, Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman, Jane Campion’s “THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY”, starring Nicole Kidman and David Fincher’s “THE GAME”, starring Michael Douglas and Sean Penn.
LYNN AROST (Producer) started her career as a story editor at Colombia Pictures for the Begelman Fields Company. She then moved to MGM as vice president of production from 1981-1984, working on a number of films including “A CHRISTMAS STORY”. She became president of The Fields Company and associate producer of “POLTERGEIST – THE OTHER SIDE”. Jessica Lange and Arost have been partners in Prairie Films for the last nine years. During their time at Orion Pictures, Arost co-produced “BLUE SKY” for which Lange won an Academy Award. Subsequently, they moved to Propaganda Pictures, where “A THOUSAND ACRES” was produced. Arost was also executive producer of Universal’s “LEAVE IT TO BEAVER”.
Prior to her work in production, Arost was a teacher at a private school in Los Angeles.
Born and raised in New York, KATE GUINZBURG (Producer) began her film industry career working as a production coordinator on such films as “GHOSTBUSTERS”, “MOSCOW ON THE HUDSON”, “SWEET LIBERTY” and “STREETS OF GOLD” among others. Moving to Hollywood,
she became a successful development executive prior to establishing her professional relationship with Michelle Pfeiffer as partners in Via Rosa Productions.
Guinzburg subsequently served as executive producer on Pfeiffer’s “LOVE HELD”, developed and executive produced “ONE FINE DAY”, and is producing Pfeiffer’s next film, “THE DEEP END OF THE OCEAN”.
Guinzburg was also involved in the development and production of “DANGEROUS MINDS”, under the aegis of Via Rosa.
SIGURJON SIGHVATSSON (Producer) is president of Lakeshore Entertainment Corp., and oversees the company’s film, television and music interests.
A native of Iceland, Sighvatsson came to the United States to study film at USC’s Graduate Film Studies program before joining the Directors Program at the American Film Institute. In 1986, Sighvatsson co-founded Propaganda Films, which quickly became the top music video and commercial production company in the U. S. During Sighvatsson’s tenure, Propaganda’s music video and commercial divisions earned 30 MTV Awards, two Grammys, four Clios and the Commercial Palm’ Or.
While at Propaganda, Sighvatsson produced such award winning feature films as the 1990 Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or winner “WILD AT HEART”, “KILL ME AGAIN”. “MADONNA: TRUTH OR DARE”, “KALIFORNIA” and “RED ROCK WEST”. Last year he produced the critically acclaimed feature film—BASQUIAT”.
In addition to such Emmy-nominated TV projects as “ARMISTEAD MAUPIN’S TALES OF THE CITY”, David Lynch’s innovative “TWIN PEAKS” and “FALLEN ANGELS” (a triple CableACE Award-winner), Sighvatsson also produced the successful television series “BEVERLY HILLS 90210”.
At Lakeshore Entertainment, Sighvatsson is responsible for such upcoming films as “TIL THERE WAS
YOU”, “BOX OF MOONLIGHT”, “GOING ALL THE WAY”, “THE REAL BLOND”, “HOMEGROWN” and “POLISH WEDDING”.
ARMYAN BERNSTEIN (Executive Producer) is the Chairman of Beacon Communications, one of the industry’s most innovative and aggressive production companies. Bernstein formed Beacon in 1990 with Marc Abraham, the company’s president. Beacon’s films for 1997 include the recent box office hit action thriller “AIR FORCE ONE”, starring Harrison Ford as the President of the United States; and the upcoming “PLAYING GOD”, starring David Duchovny and Timothy Hutton.
Beacon Communications is known for critically acclaimed, award-winning films such as “THE COMMITMENTS”, which won four BAFTA Awards, Keith Gordon’s well received “A MIDNIGHT CLEAR”, starring Ethan Hawke, and David Mamet’s “A LIFE IN THE THEATRE”, which won a
CableACE Award for Best Dramatic special. Beacon also produced “SUGAR HILL”, starring Wesley Snipes, “PRINCESS CARABOO”, starring Phoebe Cates and Kevin Kline, “THE ROAD TO WELVILLE”, directed by Alan Parker and starring Anthony Hopkins, and “THE BABY-SIT 1LR’S
CLUB”, based on the best-selling series of books from Scholastic Magazine.
Bernstein comes from a film-making background. He wrote the ’70s cult classic, “THANK GOD IT’S FRIDAY”, starring Debra Winger and Jeff Goldblum. He went on to write and co-produce Francis Ford Coppola’s legendary Vegas romance, “ONE FROM THE HEART”. Bernstein made his directing debut with “WINDY CITY”, from his screenplay, which starred John Shea and Kate Capshaw. He wrote and directed “CROSS MY HEART”, starring Martin Short and Annette O’Toole for producer Lawrence Kasdan.
Bernstein also wrote and produced the Emmy Award-winning “EARTH DAY SPECIAL” for Warner Bros and ABC. He began his career as a journalist working for PBS and ABC.
Born and raised in Chicago, Bernstein graduated from the University of Wisconsin.
Born in Hollywood THOMAS A. BLISS (Executive Producer) began making 8mm films in junior high school. After graduating UCLA Film School, Bliss served as Dean of Students at USC’s Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts, later returning to UCLA to earn his Law degree.
Bliss next earned a coveted spot in the Directors Guild of America – Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers Training Program.
Bliss has produced dozens of hours of filmed, videotaped and live entertainment. As a producer, Bliss has received two CableACE Awards and a Peabody Award.
Bliss executive produced “AIR FORCE ONE”, “PLAYING GOD”, “THE BABY-SITTERS CLUB” and produced “A LINE IN THE THEATRE”and “BOX OF MOONLIGHT”.
Bliss serves on the Board of Trustees of the Directors Guild of America- Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers Training Program, the Board of Directors of the Independent Producers Association, the Board of Governers of the Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
DIANA POKORNY (Co-Producer) served in the same co-producer capacity on the film version of Arthur Miller’s play, “THE CRUCIBLE”, starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder. She also produced the HBO drama “INDICTMENT: THE MCMARTIN TRIAL”, starring James Woods, which won several Emmy and Golden Globe Awards.
TAK FUJIMOTO (Director of Photography) lensed Tom Hanks’ directorial debut feature “THAT THING YOU DO”. He began his film career with Terence Malick’s stark classic “BADLANDS”, and went on to work extensively with Jonathon Demme on such films as “MELVIN AND HOWARD”, “MARRIED TO THE MOB”, “SILENCE OF THE LAMBS” and “PHILADELPHIA”. Other feature credits include “GRUMPIER OLD MEN”, director Carl Franklin’s “DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS”, “PRETTY IN PINK” and “HEART LIKE A WHEEL”. He is currently working on Touchstone
DAN DAVIS (Production Designer) recent feature film design credits include “MICHAEL” with Nora Ephron, as well as “BEAUTIFUL GIRLS” and “THE REF” with Ted Demme.
As an art director, Davis worked extensively with several acclaimed production designers, including David Gropman on “NOBODY’S FOOL”, “SEARCHING FOR BOBBY FISCHER” and “OF MICE AND MEN”, Mel Bourne on “REVERSAL OF FORTUNE”, Tony Walton on “REGARDING HENRY” and Ken Adam on “THE FRESHMAN”.
Other credits include “THE AGE OF INNOCENCE”, “RADIO DAYS” ‘MOONSTRUCK”, “THE GLASS MENAGERIE” and “HEARTBURN”.
Prior to his career in the film business, Davis studied at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, England, and worked for several years with a New York architectural firm.
MARYANN BRANDON (Editor) includes among her film credits “GRUMPIER OLD MEN”, “BORN TO BE WILD”, “BINGO” and “RACE FOR GLORY”. She also cut “THE BIRDS II” for Showtime, and the pilot for ABC’s “DANGEROUS MINDS”.
Brandon grew up in New York City where she attended NYU Film School. After receiving her Masters Degree she went to work in the legendary Brill Building on “COTTON CLUB”, ‘A CHORUS LINE”, “BLACK WIDOW” and “BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY”. She now works in Los Angeles and lives with her husband and two children.
RUTH MYERS (Costume Designer) previously worked with director Jocelyn Moorhouse on “HOW TO MAKE AN AMERICAN QUILT”, and costumed Michelle Pfeiffer in “THE RUSSIA HOUSE”.
Her list of credits includes the Jane Austen comedy “EMMA” (for which she was nominated for the Academy Award), starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Curtis Hanson’s noir feature “L.A. CONFIDENTIAL”, “CLEAN SLATE”, Sydney Pollack’s thriller “THE FIRM”, starring Tom Cruise, “MR. SATURDAY NIGHT”, “THE ADDAMS FAMILY” (Oscar nomination), Ron Shelton’s romantic comedy “BLAZE”, starring Paul Newman and Lolita Davidovich, Lawrence Kasdan’s “THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST”, starring Geena Davis and William Hurt, “HAUNTED HONEYMOON”, “THE WOMAN IN RED”, “CANNERY ROW”, “ALTERED STATES”, “… AND JUSTICE FOR ALL”, “THE MAIN EVENT” and “A TOUCH OF CLASS”, among others. She also received a CableACE Award for “Baja Oklahoma”. Her first job as a costume designer was “ISADORA”, the 1968 film starring Vanessa Redgrave and Jason Robards.
Born in Yorkshire, England, RICHARD HARTLEY (Music by) started his musical training at age 5 with classical piano lessons followed by theory studies. As a teenager he toured Europe in various rock and R & B bands and moved to London where he composed music for the theatre including plays by Sam Shepard. This is where he met Richard O’Brien and director Jim Sharman and that was the start of his movie career.
It all began in 1975 with the science-fiction rock horror movie “THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW” starring Susan Sarandon and Tim Curry. After being musical director for the stage show Richard subsequently arranged and produced the film’s soundtrack, and scored the incidental music.
This was followed by a career as a record producer with artists ranging from Meatloaf to Bananarama.
Then a long collaboration began with director Mike Newell starting with “DANCE WITH A STRANGER”, starring Miranda Richardson, followed by “THE GOOD FATHER”, starring Anthony Hopkins, and “AN AWFULLY BIG ADVENTURE”, starring Hugh Grant.
Recently Hartley composed the score for “STEALING BEAUTY” directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, and with Eric Clapton the final part of Roddy Doyle’s trilogy (that included “THE COMMITMENTS” and “THE SNAPPER”), “THE VAN” directed by Stephen Frears.
Soon to be released is the Touchstone Pictures’ drama “PLAYING GOD” and the Miramax film “VICTORY” directed by Mark Peploe. His other films include “BAD TIMING/SENSUAL OBSESSION” directed by Nicolas Roeg, “PRINCESS CARABOO” directed by Michael Austin , and over twenty cable and television movies including “KENNEDY” with Martin Sheen, and “MANDELA” starring Danny Glover. He won the CableACE Award for HBO’s “THE IMPOSSIBLE SPY”.
At present Hartley is working on a comedy with director Peter Yates starring James Spader and Michael Caine set in New York.