Sunday, April 24, 2011

Birthing a Litter of Old Dogs

Actor’s Inspirations for Upcoming Web Sitcom Old Dogs & New Tricks

by Leon Acord
The first seed of what would become Old Dogs & New Tricks was planted a couple of years ago, when I learned an actor friend was “second runner up” for the part on Modern Family that Eric Stonestreet was making famous.

I found it odd, because the two actors were wildly different in type:  My friend is muscular and sexual and gay; Eric Overstreet is overweight and clownish and straight.   It made me wonder if they picked Eric because (in addition to being a great actor) he would make the gay marriage on Modern Family seem non-sexual and therefore safe to audiences.

TV has come a long way since I was a kid, and gay characters now abound.  But there’s still a chunk of most gay TV character’s lives that we never see.  I wanted to create a show that exposed those things; a show about gay men who talk about things many gay men talk about, in an honest way you’d never hear on any network.  I wanted to explore gay sexuality in a straight-forward, comical and non-judgmental way.  I wanted to show gay friends forming their own family.  

And because I wanted to act in the thing, I wanted them to be a group of otherwise successful, middle-aged gay men – a wildly under-represented though usually affluent (go figure!) segment of the population­ – and plop them into youth-obsessed West Hollywood and see what happens.

Flash forward to Summer 2010:  During a two-month sabbatical from LA at my parents’ Indiana home, I found myself with my laptop and no internet connection, no cell reception, no air conditioning, not even a TV in my room.  There were no other excuses—it was time to create what I originally entitled Silver Foxes.  (Ugh.)

The characters appeared instantly to me.  Neurotic agent Nathan Adler, who’s traded passion for fashion; washed-up rocker Brad Stone, a borderline sex-addict; idealistic Muscles Carter, who’s still holding out for Mr. Right; and conservative Ross Stein, who found Mr. Right twenty years ago but now wonders ‘what’s next?’.  There are parts of me in each character, but more than that I won’t say!

I truly grew to love these guys – I couldn’t wait, each night, to sit at my laptop and share time with my four newfound friends.  I believe my parents think I lost my mind.

Stories came quickly – some inspired by real events, some total figments of my imagination – so quickly in fact that at the end of my two month’s stay, I had scripts for 30 five-minute episodes (we’ve put the last 14 on the shelf for now).  

I thought I’d hire a joke writer at some point to punch up the scripts, but Canadian playwright Glen Rockwell, the only other person I shared the scripts with at this point, said he thought the scripts were plenty funny as is.  

I wrote Nathan as newly 50 because, at 47, I thought it would take at least two years to get this thing produced.  But after returning to LA, I sent the scripts to a few industry associates, and the response was immediate and enthusiastic.  The show took on a life and urgency of its own – like a snowball, picking up staffers and crew members as it rolled, unstoppable, down the production hill.  There was a general consensus to strike while the iron is hot.  

After lots of development work with wonderful director Arvin Bautista; hard work from executive producer Laurence Whiting and line producer Matt Ladensack; meeting actors practically begging to play a part with producer/casting associate Levi Damione; and a successful IndieGoGo campaign, here we are:  shooting the pilot in May 2011, with a great cast and incredible crew, less than a year after I first created the show.

And the pilot will be online before the summer is done.  You gotta love the internet!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Patrick Dawn's 'Allegiance' Premiere Screening Saturday, April 9

Patrick Dawn's short film Allegiance premieres Saturday, April 9, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. at the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, 283 N. Cypress Street, in Orange, California.

Depicting a modern-day America in which the Nazis have won World War II, Allegiance follows Joseph Abbot (Timothy Guest), a middle school teacher who risks all to teach his son and students the truth when textbooks erase all mention of the "Final Solution". In doing so the children learn of freedom and individuality, but most importantly, what it means to fight for what you believe in.
Leon appears in a small but pivotal role in the film's shocking last scene.  He last worked with director Dawn on the short film aWake, playing a man, dying of AIDS, who throws his own wake.

Please click HERE for more information.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Old Dogs & New Tricks Teaser Now Online @ IndieGoGo

The Old Dogs & New Tricks teaser is now online at IndieGoGo.  See it at Old Dogs & New Tricks' IndieGoGo Page.  And please help support the production of our pilot -- and pick up some nice prizes in the process!

Adapted from a scene in a later episode written by Leon Acord, the teaser briefly introduces both our four leads (Acord, Jim J. Bullock, Curt Bonnem & Jeffrey Patrick Olson) and the particular predicaments they each find themselves in as middle-aged men in youth-obsessed West Hollywood.

"I'm very pleased with the trailer," executive producer Laurence Whiting says.  "We shot this for, literally, zero dollars.  If this is what we can do with no money, imagine how great the series will look and sound when we actually have a budget!"

The pilot, directed by Arvin Bautista, is scheduled to shoot in mid-May 2011.  The series will begin production in early fall 2011.