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Gregory Lamberson
22 April 2014 @ 05:39 pm
Kim's Video in NYC is closing.  I worked for the company for six months.  Memories...

I often found myself working at video stores after I made movies.  The cycle went like this: I'd have a great time managing movie theaters (and by great time I mean working 80 - 90 hours per week when business warranted it, usually without extra pay), and then I would quit those jobs to make movies, and then when I absolutely ran out of money, the first work I could find was usually managing a video store.  That's not even an option any more!

But Kim's was one of a kind...even when there were four of them.  Now there's one, and it's going out of business.

I trained at the West Side store, but wound up at the Bleecker Street store - directly beneath the location that had once been the Bleecker Street Cinemas, where SLIME CITY had its midnight run.  That was great for my self esteem...not.

Mr. Kim was a Korean (I assume he still is).  A tall, imposing Korean.  A bootlegger once set up outside one of his stores, and became testy when Kim ordered him to move.  I did not witness the violence that followed, so I must use the word "allegedly."

Mr. Kim had four children at the time: Gold Kim, Silver Kim, Platinum Kim, and Copper Kim. I always wondered if Copper suffered from self esteem issues.

The District Manager among the four stores was Mr. Cho, a former army general.  I liked him.  Our bathroom didn't have warm water, and we weren't allowed to run AC during the summer.  A young lady who worked there passed out from the heat.  Mr. Kim sent Mr. Cho to take her a sandwich at her home.  That was nice.

We had a couple of Jamaican security guards at our location.  I liked both of them.  One of them was famous for standing outside the store, asking customers what they wanted, going inside, stealing the item, going back outside, and selling the item to the customer.  Everyone knew him.

Most of the staff was stealing too.  From a manager's POV, it wasn't "if" but "when," and I had to fire them by the truckload.  Give a hipster college kid who pretends he hates money the key to the store room and he will rob you blind. Of course, my fellow manager was stealing too.  When we had a big meeting about store theft, she loaded two shopping bags with laser discs just in case she got fired.  She didn't, and she took the two bags home anyway.  There was no way of stemming this corruption, which is why I finally quit.

The sweatshops conditions weren't the only thing that motivated the staff to steal. Kim's was basically a criminal operation, with four duplication machines running in the back room.  We rented and sold VHS tapes that came with "Please turn disc over" messages halfway through each tape. The illicit activity began at the top and went to the bottom.

It was a great place to work, though; every one of us used our employee benefits to take home four free rentals a night, it was a great way to see films you'd never even heard about.  And we were paid off the books, which is always nice when you're young.  I remember when the other manager (with all the laser discs) and I had to fire someone for some reason (could it have been...stealing?).  She actually said, "I have a friend who writes for the Village Voice, and if you fire me I'm going public that we all get paid off the books and don't get breaks."  We relayed this to Mr. Cho, who laughed and said, "Let her."  All of the people who passed through that place, got fired, and probably reported them, and nothing ever happened.  There must have been payoffs galore, suggesting that the corruption didn't start at Mr. Kim's level.

Chloe Sevigny was a regular customer there.  She'd rent four movies at a time, all of them starring the same actress.  Marky Ramone came in a lot too; he liked the Mondo films.  And Spike Lee used to buy a lot of laser discs.

What a crazy place.
Gregory Lamberson
20 April 2014 @ 04:28 pm
This summer I'm directing a comedy called KILLER RACK, written by Paul McGinnis.  On Saturday, April 26th, from 1 pm - 4 pm, John Renna and Chris Rados are holding auditions for their upcoming feature at the Pierce Arrow Film Arts Center, on the second floor of 1685 Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo.  McGinnis will be there auditioning people for KILLER RACK too.  In general, I don't like holding auditions; I prefer to simply cast talented people I know to be reliable, and who take projects seriously.  But I'll be at these auditions too - not for KILLER RACK, but for the film I'll be directing next summer, an action flick tentatively entitled MEGAN'S WAR.  I'm not auditioning for "Megan" at these auditions, but I will be keeping an eye open for an actress who fits the bill.  There is, unfortunately, no real database for actors in Buffalo, just a few different actor/extra Facebook pages.  I prefer to cast a local actress for this lead, title role, which is why I'm starting this process early; if I have to bring in an out of town actress because the local casting process is too difficult, I will.

MEGAN'S WAR is an action film in the BILLY JACK / DELIVERANCE vein about four people from Buffalo who go on a weekend camping trip and find themselves hunted by extremist police and paramilitary types - there is a controversial aspect to the story.  It will probably shoot over weekends next summer, but it could shoot over a straight one month period.  "Megan" is the lead role, and is the one which I currently know will be a paying gig.  I'm looking for a Caucasian actress, 25 - 28; attractive, physically fit, athletic and with the chops to deliver a serious dramatic performance.  No frontal nudity is required; however. bareback nudity is required for a scene in which Megan purifies herself in a lake near the end of the film.  I expect there to be an aggressive marketing campaign for this film, and I'm looking for someone reliable who is interested in being a partner for this project: there will likely be opportunities to attend film festivals where the film screens, and the part requires a long time commitment for publicity.  There will be many other roles in this film, most of them unpaid; I have zero interest in discussing them until after I've cast this pivotal role, as I need to build the cast around the lead.

This is a seriously good role for the right person.  Interested actresses can send me their head shots and resumes, either to my Facebook page:

...or to my old email account:

Or I'll see you at the John Renna/Chris Rados/Paul McGinnis auditions this Saturday.

At this time, I don't wish to receive inquiries about other roles or crew positions, or head shots from out of town actresses for this lead role.  One step at a time.
Gregory Lamberson
every day

June is the current release date for my next novel, The Julian Year, and this time it appears likely to happen as planned.  For anyone new to the concept, TJY is the first TREEbook (Timed Reading Experience E-book), an innovative new e-book platform developed by Medallion Press.  Readers download the Medallion Media Group Sidekick app for free from iTunes, then purchase TJY through the app, and use the app to read the book on an iPad.  The app measures each reader's individual average reading pace, and when that pace changes at predetermined story points, the novel branches off in different directions.  The story actually changes, placing the characters in different situations with different outcomes.  Characters will live, characters will die, characters will find themselves in different dangerous situations depending on the reader's reading habits.  The branching is organic and seamless, so the reader will be unaware the story has changed on him; it's a passive experience, unlike the Choose Your Own Adventure books so many people remember.  When the reader has completed the novel, a graphic will appear showing which branches he followed.  At that point, the reader is free to explore the other branches at will, or he can simply start over; each time, his reading habits are likely to change, and he'll get a new story experience.  There's never been anything like it before, and I'm proud TJY is the first book of its kind.  As you can imagine, the technology involved in making all of this feasible is complicated and sophisticated, and some bugs had to be worked out, dictating two previous release date postponements.  This is a brand new product, and everything has to run smoothly.  A lot of people have worked long and hard to make this launch a success.

20 mil

Technology and story variations aside, TJY is an apocalyptic novel about global demonic possession.  Films like The Exorcist, The Evil Dead and Demons have told stories about small groups of characters battling possession in isolated settings: a Georgetown townhouse, a cabin in the woods, and a mysterious movie theater.  In my story, every person on earth becomes possessed on his birthday.  Each day, twenty million people become homicidal maniacs.  At the end of 365 days, everyone on earth should be possessed.  The doomsday clock has been set, and is ticking furiously away.  How would the governments of the world deal with such a catastrophic predicament? How would society cope?  In my world, drastic steps are taken: detainment camps are created with men, women and children turning themselves in days before their birthday.  As in Logan's Run, one's birthday comes to symbolize death.  Many people abide by new laws, but others go underground.  Every person is a "sleeper agent" for hellish forces determined to create chaos.

are becoming

The main character in TJY - that is, in some branches - is Julian Weizak.  Unlike my heroes Jake Helman, Tony Mace, Boone and Walker, Julian is anything but an action hero.  Chubby and single, he's given up on his dreams of becoming a muckraking journalist and has settled for being an obituary writer for a daily Manhattan newspaper.  When anarchy erupts at the strike of twelve on New Year's Day, Julian is the first to notice a pattern: every person who committed murder or an act of destruction was born that day.  Julian's discovery positions him to realize his career ambitions, but what's the point if anyone on earth will be dead or possessed in one year's time?  Because Julian was born December 31st, he has a front row seat in the theater of the apocalypse.

you may be next

Rachel Konigsberg and Steve Morelli are street cops on the front line when TJY begins. Unlike Julian, Rachel evolves into the biggest bad ass I've ever written, and by the end of some branches, she could swat my aforementioned male characters away like flies.  Every character in TJY suffers tremendous loss, that's the price of surviving in this terrifying world.  Rachel becomes an unstoppable force who offers a shred of hope for mankind which you'll have to read to learn.  Morelli is a tough cookie too, and different from some of my other action heroes: he's a blue collar guy rooted in family and friends.  There's nothing he likes more than being a cop, and unlike Rachel, he follows the rules.

The Julian Year

Each one of these characters comes with his own supporting cast and agenda.  Sometimes they cross paths and become friends or lovers, sometimes they maintain adversarial positions.  The branch variations allowed me to explore the characters in as much depth as I could in an entire series. The canvas became much larger than I anticipated even though the goal was always that each branch path should read like a complete novel.  There's action and gore galore: I was influenced by both James Herbert and Nigel Kneale, and I can't wait to spring Armageddon on everyone.

rm ad

I imagine we'll begin with a "soft launch," and the release will be in full swing by the time I appear at FanExpo Canada in August.  A few months later, in October, The Frenzy Wolves, the final book in my werewolf trilogy The Frenzy Cycle will be published.

Check out The Julian Year's dedicated website, which features preview chapters from the novel, and sign up for TREEbook updates:
Gregory Lamberson
24 March 2014 @ 09:24 pm
gave up the ghost poster

Ordinarily, I devote quite a few blogs to the production of any movie I direct.  In the case of Gave Up the Ghost, I posted a few blogs during pre-production, and now production is already over: we shot the whole thing - 19 1/8 pages - in two days, so this will be my sole production blog.   When Mike T. Lyddon asked me if I wanted to direct a segment for his upcoming horror anthology film Creepers, I proposed I direct an adaptation of a Jeff Strand story and he agreed.  Jeff and I settled on his comic tale "Gave Up the Ghost," which would require only two locations, and Jeff wrote the screenplay.   He and I were slightly concerned the story wouldn't meet the minimum running time requirement (16 - 23 minutes), so he added several scenes which will probably get the biggest laughs.  Thanks to these additions, I got to direct my first zombie, cannibals, mummies, sparkling vampires and Big Feet.

creepers final blue teaser

"Gave Up the Ghost" is a comedy about an aspiring novelist, J.T., who loses his novel when his computer dies (I found this setup all too familiar to real life).  J.T. calls a computer repairman, Barry, to his home to try to rescue his lost file.  Barry turns out to be a repairman-medium whose solution to J.T.'s predicament is to summon the spirit of J.T.'s computer.  Ego crushing hilarity ensues (the ghost should join Buffalo Ball Busting -

Jeffand Drew

Jeff surprised me by saying he and his wife Lynne Hansen would try to attend the filming.  They live in Florida, and had just visited Buffalo in November for Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival when we screened the short He's Not looking So Great, which Lynne wrote.  Any chance to see them is a plus, so I scheduled the shoot for when they were available to travel.  Jeff's script runs 19 1/8 pages (for production purposes, screenplays are always broken down into eights), and my initial breakdown was for three days of shooting: two days at my house, and a third day for a computer repair shop and green screen effects.  I ultimately decided to try to shoot the entire thing in one weekend, which meant creating a computer repair shop in my house, but that's the magic of movie making.  At one point, the computer repair shop, green screen setup, and dining room "set" co-existed in the same room, like a miniature sound stage.  My revised schedule did not mean fewer setups.  Nine and 1/16 pages is a lot; I typically shoot six pages a day on my features (but Chris Olen Ray shoots 12 pages!).

Jesff and Paul

This was my first time directing someone else's script. I decided early on to let the actors sell the story, so there are no crazy over-stylized camera shots; my job was to serve the story.   When casting a film, I like to stay in my comfort zone, working with people I know I can rely on to deliver good performances, show up when needed, and stay as long as the shoot requires with no ego trips, complaining or nonsense.  This is why I tend to write characters with actor friends in mind, and why I hate auditioning people.  I cast Paul McGinnis, the screenwriter of Killer Rack, to play the ghost and John Renna as the computer repairman.  For the lead role, I did something different: I cast a film student named Drew Bialy, whom I only knew from Facebook posts, a brief meeting, and a short film called Road Test, which I loved.   All three guys have demonstrated comic timing in the past, and I knew I made the right call with our fist reading.  Sam Qualiana did a great job as my Director of Photography on Dry Bones, but he's also an actor, and even though we've worked together on a bunch of films, I've never used him as a thespian, and wanted to do so.   I felt he looked too young for J.T. (even though he's not all that young anymore...), so I cast him and Jessica Zwolak (who appears in Dry Bones and will essay the lead in Killer Rack) as the couple who appear in the added scenes, and made him my Assistant Director.  Alexander Sloan McBryde rounded out the cast as the computer repair shop dispatcher; it's always a pleasure to have him around.  My daughter Kaelin and A.J. Petrie played kids in an exterior shot (A.J. made sure to insist he get to speak).


I mixed things up a little with the crew.    Rod Durick has been one of my go to guys for special make-up effects, but he's decided he would rather play with cameras than latex and goo, so I made him my DP.  Nick Anderson volunteered to help Rod, and served as Assistant Camera and 2nd unit cameraman; we did have two units going at the same time in a couple of instances.  Arick Szymecki has usually been part of a special make-up effects team, and this was his first time handling the gags solo.  In these stills, the ghost looks somewhat like a kabuki performer; this is so that when Arick comps the green screen shots of Paul into the scenes with Drew and John, we'll get a cool effect.  I brought Chris Rados on as Lighting Director, and added Scotty Franklin to help him.  Chris Cosgrave is new to our group and fit right in: he recorded audio on set, and will be editing the film.  Jeff, Lynne and Tamar helped as production assistants, and Lynn, Arick, Tamar and Kaelin played demon hands.  Out of nowhere, Kelly Wahl offered to cater for us and did a bang up job.  I can't count the number of my films when worrying about food has distracted me from what I needed to concentrate on.


Shooting was scheduled for 7 am - 7 pm on Saturday and Sunday at my house.  We "made our day," meaning we shot what we were supposed to and didn't fall behind, on both days; we finished 15 mins late on Saturday and 28 minutes early on Sunday.  The cast and crew were all on time and were models of professionalism.  It's a great feeling when you don't have to wait on lighting, and when everyone gets along and can have fun while working hard.  Most of these folks had shot in my house before,  and we used Rod's PVC dolly for a number of shots.  For some voice overs, I enlisted Paul, Jeff, Lynne, Arick and Drew's girlfriend, Stacy Kirchmeyer.  I didn't give any of them advance warning, just called them over to the table on the spot, that's how I roll! John developed intestinal trouble late the first day which led to some delays and jokes, but we never fell behind.  Not surprisingly, the one thing that we couldn't predict - the weather - caused us to re-shoot on Sunday, when it snowed, some shots we did Saturday, when it rained.  We did one dolly shot of Drew sitting in front of my picture window, and each take ranged from no snowfall to light snowfall to no snowfall to heavy snowfall.  That's so Buffalo.


Other than John's intestines and the weather, everything went according to plan and ran like clockwork, so I don't really have any interesting stories.  A chair broke under Sam during one take.  My deaf cat ruined a couple of sound takes yowling.  Kaelin ruined a couple of sound takes moving around in her bedroom, which we had turned into Arick's make-up room.  Heavy production drama!

bouncing light

Everyone did a great job, we shot 19 pages in two days, and I'm confident we have a funny film on our hands.  It was great seeing everyone, especially Jeff and Lynne.  The only socializing I do tends to involve my productions or Buffalo Dreams.  We ate well, and now Chris C can get start the preliminary editing, and then Arick can start the visual effects.


The official site for Creepers is


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Gregory Lamberson
21 March 2014 @ 01:23 am
gave up the ghost poster

Saturday and Sunday we shoot GAVE UP THE GHOST in my house.  The last film I show was DRY BONES, also in my house.  Thus a heavy duty paint job.  My house will also serve as a computer repair shop...thus Rod Durick hooked me up with several computer carcasses and Chris Cosgrave brought some other computer equipment and shelves.  Alex McBryde will deliver his lines on one side of my dining room, surrounded by shelves and monitors - and Drew Bialy will perform his half of an on screen telephone conversation eight feet away, in the same room.  The magic of cinema.  The reason I went this route is that shooting in another location would mean either a company move, and additional day of shooting, or both.


After about two weeks of encapsulation, priming, and painting, today was an attempt to get my house in order for the shoot after tearing it apart for the painting.  Mission un-accomplished!  Nick Anderson, who will be AC/2nd camera, dropped off the PVC dolly tracks we used on DRY BONES.  Since today was the first day of spring and this is Buffalo, the wind was howling and snow fell, and the tracks blew off Nick's truck and suffered some damage.  Fortunately Rod was already coming over to mount supports on the puppet stage we're using as a computer desk, and to hang new curtains (we bought the rod eight years ago, and it's been sitting in a corner).  Chris Cosgrave  brought over some cool old computer equipment and other items and helped out.  The house is a mess, but it's a completely different  mess than it was 24 hours ago.


I bought Alex an orange polo work shirt - orange to match the jumpsuit John Renna will wear as Barry, the repairman from SCM Computer Repair.  Renna has grown a horseshoe around his dome, and has shaped his mustache in a unique way for his role, and had his optometrist father provide him with some custom glasses.


More cleaning ahead, plus photo copying contracts, purchasing food items, and doing laundry before Jeff Strand and Lynne Hansen arrive from Florida (it's snowing).
Gregory Lamberson
19 March 2014 @ 11:16 pm

One month ago, on February 20th, Sarah Jones, a 1st Assistant Camera person on the film Midnight Rider, a biopic of Gregg Allman, was struck and killed by a train on a bridge during filming.  You may have heard about this unnecessary tragedy, or you might have wondered what that quick banner was at the end of the "In Memoriam" segment during the Oscars.  If you're unfamiliar with the situation, or only heard about it in passing, here is The Hollywood Reporter's story on the incident:

Jones's death has struck a cord with filmmakers - crewmen and actors alike - because most of us have taken chances on films which seemed reasonable at the time but not so much so after the fact.  The circumstances, as described by a hairstylist whose arm was broken in the same avoidable tragedy, resonate with many of us.  We don't understand how such carelessness could occur on a film that wasn't even a guerrilla shoot, but we do understand the willingness of crew people to go above and beyond the call of duty to make a movie.  The result has been an outpouring of empathy from the film community - the real film community, not those so wrapped up in their own projects and egos that they don't pay attention to the industry they wish to belong to.  One immediate reaction has been a call for stricter safety guidelines on set; another was the campaign to have Sarah recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences during the telecast (their banner was half-hearted at best, but at least the petition that so many of us signed accomplished something); and "Slates for Sarah," in which AC's acknowledge Sarah on their production slates.  The "Slates for Sarah" Facebook page has almost 70,000 followers:

I am particularly moved by a call by Chris Blackmore, a 2nd AC, to call the first shot of each shooting day "the Jonesy."  You may or may not know that the last shot of each day is called "the Martini," and that the next to last shot of each day is called "the Abby" (after 1st AD Abby Singer, who liked to give the crew a little advance notice that they could start wrapping up).  Calling the first shot of the day "the Jonesy" sounds like a great idea to me; it isn't just a way of acknowledging Sarah Jones, but a reminder to everyone to be careful on set.  I'm directing a short this Saturday and Sunday, and we will definitely be announcing, "the Jonesy is up" each day, and on any future productions of mine.

RIP Sarah Jones.

slates for sarah
Gregory Lamberson
15 March 2014 @ 11:36 pm
I spent much of the last week and a half painting my downstairs living room (two rooms really, with an alcove and a weird fireplace) and stairway for GAVE UP THE GHOST, the short film based on the Jeff Strand short story, which will be one segment in the CREEPERS horror movie anthology.  One coat of primer and three coats of burgundy.  Dark burgundy.  Plus one stairway wall got four coats of lead block. This week I was also distracted by a car accident I had exiting the 290 (no one else was involved, and local actor Dale Rugg Jr., who played Roy Frumkes's bodyguard in SLIME CITY MASSACRE, did a great job stitching together my grill).  After what I consider dull prep work, it was time to get down to the nitty gritty today, our one and only rehearsal after last week's reading.

rehearsal 6

I brought in our three leads - Drew Bialy, John Renna and Paul McGinnis - and we went through Jeff's script maybe five times, working on the blocking.  Rod Durick (DP) joined us as well, so we could plan shots, and Chris Cosgrave took photos.  It was a lot of fun to see it come together.  The actors were largely on book, but the interaction was there and chemistry developing, and they experimented with a lot of bits.  For story reasons I won't go into now, the direction of the film will be fairly simple - this is a comedy, and the performances have to sell the humor.  All three guys were splendid and may get together for another rehearsal on their own before next weekend, when we shoot principal photography.

rehearsal 7

I still have touch up painting to do, and some wardrobe and prop work, and a lot of technical stuff to coordinate over the next week, but we'll be ready.  Jeff Strand and Lynne Hansen arrive Friday, and then it will be a pretty intensive weekend of principal photography.

rehearsal 15
Gregory Lamberson
08 March 2014 @ 11:20 pm
It's hard to believe that two weeks from tonight we'll be wrapping the first day of production on GAVE UP THE GHOST, the short film adaptation of my friend Jeff Strand's short story for the horror anthology CREEPERS, executive produced by Mike T. Lyddon.  Jeff has adapted the story himself, and this will be the first film adaptation of his work, and my first time directing something written by someone else. I've been prepping by painting the downstairs of my house so it will look different than it did in DRY BONES (coming to DVD late summer/early fall).  Today was the cast reading of the script, which went swimmingly.

reading 1

reading 2

The three leads are Drew Bialy, John Renna and Paul McGinnis, supported by Sam Qualiana, Jessica Zwolak and Alexander McBryde.  Drew impressed me in the short film ROAD TEST, and I've worked with everyone else before.  We were joined by Rod Durick, who is serving as director of photography, and Chris Cosgrave, who is editing.  What can I say?  A funny script read by a talented cast.  It's going to be a good film - a hilarious film.  I can say that because someone else wrote the jokes and I know I cast the right people.  Okay, Tamar cast Renna, and once again he's going to prove himself a force of nature.

reading 3

reading 4

I still have painting to do, and wardrobe to gather, and catering arrangements to make.  I'm rehearsing the three leads next weekend, and then the weekend after that we shoot.  It's going to be a jam packed schedule, with Sam doing double duty as assistant director, Arick Szymecki doing special make-up effects, Chris Rados serving as lighting director, Scotty Franklin assisting him, and Chris Cosgrave and Paul alternating on sound.  Jeff Strand and Lynne Hansen are coming up for the shoot, and their limbs (as well as those of Tamar and Kaelin) will be pressed into service.

reading 5
reading 6

It's going to be fun.  I might even smile.

reading 10
reading 9
reading 8
reading 7
Gregory Lamberson
06 March 2014 @ 02:22 pm
Some of my favorite TV characters were real smarty pants, and thrilled to show that quality to the whole world.  More often than not, the characters around them found them insufferable, which was what made them so entertaining and endearing.  Arrogant characters get all the best dialogue, because they're more interesting than nice guys.

My first arrogant hero on TV was Professor Charles Kingsfield, played by the great John Houseman, in CBS's version of The Paper Chase.  Houseman was nominated for an Oscar for the movie version; astonishingly, it was his first TV role.  Even though the show was aimed at families, the writers did little to soften Kingsfield, which was great, but the show only lasted one season on network TV.  Houseman reprised his role in a hilarious episode of another one season show, the sitcom The Associates, opposite Wilfred Hyde White.  Watching these two old nemeses engage in a battle of wits was hilarious.  Showtime revived the show a few years later, and it ran for three seasons.  Kingsfield's students were terrified of him, but felt the need to impress him.  Kingsfield's greatest move was to pretend he didn't remember the name of whomever he was speaking to.  In the final episode, James Hart graduated form Harvard Law School, and Kingsfield was permitted a slight smile as he handed over the "paper" of the title.


William Daniels played egomaniacal Dr. Craig on St. Elsewhere, which used a similar teaching scenario to allow Craig to berate and intimidate resident doctors.  Unlike the other characters on my list, he often received comeuppance.  In later seasons he lost the use of his hands and his wife left him.  People love an underdog, even when his bark has bite.  Craig was the first in a long line of arrogant surgeons on TV -

craig elsewhere

- beginning with Mandy Patankin on Chicago Hope.  Patankin was the breakout star of the show, and pulled a David Caruso and left a few episodes into the second season, dooming the series, which struggled without him.  He returned for the last season and fired most of the regulars, which was great fun, but it was too late.

patankin hope

Sian Phillips as Livia, wife of Augustus Caesar, on BBC's I, Claudius, is probably my favorite TV villain.  Showtime has been talking about remaking this mini-series, and while it may be fun to see the stories told with a budget, there is no way a remake can match this perfect cast.  Mocking Claudius's stutter: "Clau-Clau-Clau..."


Ray Sharky made a comeback from heroin addiction as mobster Sonny Steelgrave in the first arc of Wiseguy. Sunny was a sympathetic mafioso for much of the show, at his most vulnerable following the murder of his brother.  The storyline depicted other mobsters moving in on his territory, and in the two-art finale - right before his downfall - he trumped them all and made himself king...and figured out his right hand man was an undercover FBI agent.  Sonny: "Bury him someplace ugly."


Ian Richardson played diabolical whip-turned-prime minister Francis Urqhart in three BBC mini-series, beginning with House of Cards.  The US version starring Kevin Spacey is fine, but the original is better, and Richardson is amazing.  Defining dialogue: "You night well think so; I couldn't possibly comment."


Bonus bastard: Paul McCrane played egomaniacal record producer Johnny Medley on Wiseguy, and an egomaniacal surgeon in the Dr. Craig mold on E.R.

Degrees of arrogant separation: John Houseman was a longtime collaborator of the brilliant actor Norman Lloyd, who played kindly Dr. Auschlander on St. Elsewhere.  James Stephens, who played law student Hart on The Paper Chase, played a younger version of Auschlander in a brilliant two-part flashback episode of  Elsewhere.  Kevin Spacey is the second best Francis Urqhart, and the second best villain on Wiseguy: he was fantastic as arms merchant Mel Profitt.

Missing arrogance: House and Sherlock would surely have made my list if I ever watched them, although I understand Sherlock has softened Holmes in its third season.
Gregory Lamberson
gruesome tensome final

I've written before that I don't write short stories, but this year is turning into one of experimentation.  Nick Cato of Novello Publishers has assembled The Gruesome Tensome, an anthology of ten original stories celebrating the life and cinematic work of Herschell Gordon Lewis, aka "The Godfather of Gore."  I had Herschell and his wife Margo over for dinner with Roy Frumkes when they were all in town for a film festival; lovely people.  And I once wrote a screenplay called Untitled Slasher Film, which spoofed the world of no budget filmmaking, in which Herschell emerged as the hero (sadly, I wrote this script for hire, and it will never get made).  And Herschell gave me a blurb for Johnny Gruesome.  I have fond feelings for the man, and recall watching most of his movies at Buffalo theatre I managed when business was slow.  When Nick asked me to contribute to the anthology, I already had a story in the back of my mind.  The complete TOC is as follows:

Jeff Strand
Gregory Lamberson
Dynatox Krall
L.L. Soares
Mark McLauglin/Michael Sheehan Jr.
Adam Cesare
David Hayes
Garrett Cook
William Carl
MP Johnson

Cover by Matthew Revert

I would tell you the name of my story, but I don't remember, and I lost my draft when my hard drive died, so I'll save that for a future announcement!  In the meantime, here's the Novello website:

The Novello Facebook page:

And as a special treat (I come with my own supplemental material) the cover of Artvoice celebrating Herschell's visit to Buffalo:

Here's a shot of Herschell with Roy Frumkes in my dining room:


And here's a shot of the uber awesome cake we had made for them: