ChooseATL Movement

ChooseATL Logo




Georgia is winning big in the film industry and as a result local businesses, organizations and entrepreneurs across the state are feverishly racing to take advantage of the opportunities that have resulted, especially in metro Atlanta.  One such organization that is poising itself to meet the growing demands of this industry is ChooseATL.

Kate Atwood is the Vice President of this local organization which is taking advantage of the film growth in the metro Atlanta area.  Not only is ChooseATL concerned with film growth but it also aims to encourage growth in a variety of local business sectors in order to encourage job growth, economic growth, entrepreneurship, technology advancement — essentially, a total way of life in metro Atlanta.  Kate Atwood is an entrepreneur and a community leader who has built her career on heading up social impact initiatives in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors.  Two successful organizations that she has led are her own not-for-profit, Kate’s Club and Arby’s Foundation, in which she served as Executive Director.Kate Atwood - ChooseATL

In September, Kate joined the Metro Atlanta Chamber, as Vice President to lead the recently launched ChooseATL campaign. In this newly created role, Kate is responsible for focusing the region’s narrative to showcase all that metro Atlanta has to offer with the purpose to attract and retain top emerging talent. Undoubtedly, her organization will also attract film talent both locally and nationally that will continue to fuel the skyrocketing growth taking place in film and help to sustain the industry.  This week on Reel Focus, Kate will share with us more about this new campaign and how it relates to the film industry.

Kate thank you for your contribution to Reel Focus this week.  I’m sure our readers are dying to know what ChooseATL is so, tell us its purpose and how it relates to film?

ChooseATL is focused on telling a comprehensive story about Atlanta to attract and retain top talent and intentionally grow the region’s prosperity in the global economy. ChooseATL highlights the abundant opportunity for career growth across the 29-county region, as well as the unique culture and highly ranked livability.

Atlanta’s film industry has continued to flourish thanks to an abundance of talent and generous tax credits, which make Georgia one of the top states for movie and television production, behind California and New York. ChooseATL will continue to highlight the top productions filmed in Georgia, like ‘The Walking Dead,’ and all the reasons why our region is ideal for the entertainment sector.

Simply put, we want to tell folks in the film and TV industry why they should choose Atlanta. I’m proud to say we’re already making great strides. In fact, recently MovieMaker Magazine designated Atlanta as #1 on the list of Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker in 2016.

What are some major benchmarks or how will you know that your campaign is successful?

First, I want to clarify that ChooseATL isn’t simply a campaign with a finite time period. This brand is a movement – one you’ll be seeing for months and years to come.

Startup investors, corporate executives and public sector institutions alike are realizing that the new age of economic development is attracting talent. As Millennials begin to flood the workplace (FACT: they will comprise 75% of the workforce by 2025), attracting and retaining talent is the next big thing for any city. ChooseATL is ensuring Atlanta is poised to win this rush for talent. At a high level, the health of our region and the vibrancy of our diverse and beautiful communities will demonstrate ChooseATL’s success.

Tell us about the next film related event or events that you have planned?

Many of your readers probably attended our January SXSW 2016 pre-party at Spitfire Studios. Our next and final event before ChooseATL takes over SXSW is a music reception at Sweet Water Brewery on Feb 17. The event will highlight Atlanta’s vibrant music industry but we encourage anyone interested in learning more about the ChooseATL initiative to attend.

In March, ChooseATL will head to Austin to showcase our region’s vibrant creative culture wrapped around our evolving tech and entertainment industries. The initiatives and programs we will activate in the ChooseATL House at SXSW will reflect the city and culture we love, and show people why they too should ChooseATL.

In a few words, tell our readers, particularly our readers who may be considering moving her for film, why they should ‘Choose ATL?’

The film and television industry in Georgia generated more than $6 billion in fiscal year 2015, directly employing 22,400 workers in Georgia and 77,900 people indirectly, (Georgia Department of Economic Development).

Atlanta’s diverse economy, global access, workforce, low costs of business and living, and vibrant quality of life are reasons to choose Atlanta. I’d also encourage them to check out to learn more about the people culture and opportunities Atlanta has to offer.


Photos courtesy of ChooseATL



Fans Celebrate End of Downton Abbey with Live Chats and Galas

MASTERPIECE Downton Abbey The Final Season Premieres January 3, 2016 at 9 PM ET The top PBS drama of all time approaches its climactic chapter as Downton Abbey embarks on its final season. The year is 1925, and momentous change threatens the great house, its owners, and servants. Past scandals are also looming. The beloved ensemble is back for their farewell performance, closing the book on a television legend. Shown: MICHELLE DOCKERY as Lady Mary Crawley © Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Limited 2015 for MASTERPIECE This image may be used only in the direct promotion of MASTERPIECE. No other rights are granted. All rights are reserved. Editorial use only.


Written by Guest Blogger, Rosemary Jean-Louis, Desperate for Downton

The last season of “Downton Abbey” is finally airing in the U.S. and its storylines have already elicited big smiles. (*Spoiler alert: plots to be revealed in this article so if you haven’t watched the season so far, you may want to skip ahead!)

Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes tied the knot in episode 3. Mr. Branson’s unexpected and welcome return during the reception induced tears of joy. The Bates are cleared of any connection to Mr. Green’s murder and have a baby on the way.

All is really well at the Abbey, but unfortunately fans will get to enjoy this bliss for only a few more weeks as the last episode airs March 6.

No worries! Just as tours of movie locations have extended the fan experience of the beloved films, several events are extending the viewer experience offscreen to celebrate “Downton’s” ending. Here are some of them. 

Downton Abbey Live Chat Sundays: Every Sunday for the past five years, I have been hosting an online live chat during the broadcast of “Downton Abbey” on the Desperate for Downton Georgia Public Broadcasting blog. My group of chatters convene there loyally. Some participants have come from Texas, California and New York and join in because they enjoy the camaraderie. Others have joined in because they were too sick to attend a friend’s real life “Downton” watch party. They appreciated finding one online.

It’s not too late to watch the last season with people who love the show very much too. Join us at 9 p.m. on Sundays. We’re welcome you.

Downton Abbey Galas in Macon and Savannah: Bid goodbye to the Crawleys in style by attending a “Downton” themed soiree. Georgia Public Broadcasting held one in Atlanta this past December where Jessica Fellowes, the niece to “Downton” creator Julian Fellowes, and the author of the companion”Downton Abbey” books was the headliner. Plus attendees got to see the first episode before others did.

GPB Macon is hosting a similar function, dubbed “A Farewell to Downton” on Saturday, January 23 at 7 p.m. at the Library Ballroom in Macon, Ga.  There will be dinner, dancing and a preview of episode 4. Get tickets here.

If you can’t attend that one, you can head further south to Savannah. That’s where GPB Savannah is hosting their “Diamonds & Dinner At Downton Abbey” on February 23 at 6 p.m.  at the Jepson Center at the Telfair Museum. Guests will get to see the final episode before everyone else and get an insider’s perspective from the show’s official jewelry designer, Andrew Prince.  Get tickets here. 

Downton Abbey Weekend at Sea Island: For its final “Downton Abbey” themed weekend the Sea Island resort has pulled out all the stops, flying in cast, crew and companion book author to give fans multiple insiders’ perspectives on how the last season came together. Four stars of the show will be there: Phyllis Logan (Mrs. Hughes)  and Michael Fox (Andy) are appearing for the first time. Raquel Cassidy (Baxter) and Kevin Doyle (Moseley) are returning as is Jessica Fellowes. Executive Producer Liz Trubridge, costume designer Anna Robbins and historical advisor Alastair Bruce are also coming in.

I’ll be there covering and live tweeting the event. I hope to see you there. Find out more here.

Edutainment – Key Wardrobe

Fashion designer working in progress in tailor studio.
Image courtesy of Stockphotos.

Edutainment – learning about film and television one word at a time.

When watching a film, unless it is a film with obvious costuming such as ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel,’ it can seem to an average audience like actors and actresses just show up in their own attire.  However, everything about film is controlled – even what people wear.  The person or people in charge of costuming the cast are called key wardrobe. This month’s term comes from’s Film and TV Careers site.

Key Wardrobe

The Key Wardrobe is the person in charge of the wardrobe on a set. . .The duties of someone in wardrobe vary from project to project, but essentially the job consists of reading the script and based upon the scenes and character descriptions, the Key Wardrobe person will determine what style and types of clothing a given character will wear.

Notable Film Costume Designers

Eiko Ishioka

Sandy Powell

Milena Canonero

Colleen Atwood

Alexandra Byrne

Janet Patterson

Jany Temime


“Words are power.  Use your words and your power wisely.”



Interview with Sara Blecher – A New Filmmaker for Array

Photo Credit - Array Now


There is a lot of controversy brewing in Hollywood around the topic of inclusion of women and people of color in film.  In the midst of all this controversy, one woman is doing more than just talk about the problem.  Ava Duvernay is doing something about it by using her talent and wherewithal to help women and people of color tell their story on the big screen.

Sara Blecher is a filmmaker under Ava’s distribution collective, ARRAY.   Sara is here to share with Reel Focus readers more about her film Ayanda.

Sara, thank you for your contribution to our Reel Focus readers this week.  Tell us more about how you became a filmmaker.

Actually I was living in Paris and I seriously had no money. I was working as a waitress and a babysitter. Pretty much doing everything I could to feed myself. Anyway I met this guy and he invited me to a party. It was by far the coolest party with the hippest people I’d been to in all my time in Paris.

So eventually someone came up to me and started talking to me. He introduced himself as a photographer and asked me what I did.  It was at this was the moment I decided to be a filmmaker.

I decided right there and then that I would never again be at a party like this and have to say I was a waitress. Or even worse a babysitter. That simply wasn’t the plan for my life.

So I went back to New York and enrolled in film school.

Not a sexy story but a true one.

What types of challenges have you faced being ‘woman in film’ and share with our readers how you overcame these challenges and how they too can overcome such challenges?

For me, like many other female directors, the greatest challenge is to find work. Up until recently I never directed anything that I didn’t create and produce so that I could direct – which is precisely how I overcame that challenge. If no one would hire me to direct then I’d simply create projects so I could be the one to decide who would direct.

Being an artist it’s always tempting to measure success through other people eyes, be they critics or journalists, or audiences.   But as I have gotten older I have come to realize what a terribly dangerous thing this can be.  Art is incredibly subjective.  What is great art to one person isn’t necessarily to another. So now these days I measure the success of my work by the way I feel about a film before anyone else has seen it. I think I can now trust myself to know when the work is good and deep and interesting and when it isn’t. 

Meryl Streep recently said “I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me.”  If there is any advice I could give readers it would be to try and learn this sooner rather than later.

Why should people watch your latest film Ayanda?

Five years ago I went to see Juno with my then 15-year-old daughter. I watched her transform while she watched that film. For the first time in her life she was given an alternate role model. Someone to emulate who was beyond any of the possibilities she had previously considered for herself.  I wanted to make a film that would do the same thing for young African women. And I believe this film does.

But perhaps more importantly people should go and see Ayanda, because it’s a different way of looking at Africa; one that doesn’t gaze at violence, and poverty and disease – but instead turns to look at what it means to be human in this continent.

What more should we expect from you in the near future in terms of your film making career?

I just completed a film called Dis Ek Anna ( It’s me Anna) about a young girl who was abused by her stepfather. It has just released in South Africa and is due to be screened around the world early next year. Also, for those who want to see Ayanda, you can check it out at the Bronze Lens Festival in Atlanta, November 14, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. at Georgia Pacific Auditorium




Edutainment – Blacklisted

Photo credit - CBS News Archive/Getty Images
Photo credit – CBS News Archive/Getty Images

Edutainment – learning about film and television one word at a time.

This term is thrown around loosely nowadays.  In general, it usually refers to anyone who has been kept out of something or deprived of something for their beliefs or political stance that is unacceptable by a majority.  However, this word is deeply rooted in the Joseph McCarthy era in which communist ‘witch hunts’ ran rampant.  There was a general fear back in the 1940s that communists were infiltrating Hollywood and as a result, certain film professionals were added to a list called a blacklist and prevented from obtaining work.  This months term comes from BFI Screen Online.


“[c. 1940s]. . .hundreds of writers, actors, directors and producers were identified as communists and/or pressurized to reveal the names of communist sympathizers. Those who chose not to co-operate with HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) found themselves on a ‘blacklist’ preventing their working with any Hollywood studio.”

“Words are power.  Use your words and your power wisely.”



The Afterthought – Blood and Oil Television Review

Photo Credit - ABC
Photo Credit – ABC

The Afterthought – Reel Focus blogger’s initial reaction to a new television show, new film release or television show season premiere.


I’ll admit that this television show is not something that I would typically watch but I was intrigued by the previews.  Initial reviews on the show claimed that this show is like the 80s television show Dynasty; however this is not what drew me in.  I think what sparked my interest was seeing Don Johnson on screen doing a show in a small town.  This is quite a drastic change from his role in his younger years on Miami Vice.  So, I tuned into it and this is what I got from it.

My Synopsis of the Episode

Cody and Billy are a young married couple who set out to start a family business in Patchwork, North Dakota.  The episode seems to gain traction when Cody and Billy are on the way to North Dakota and flip their pickup truck carrying their product. Luckily, they don’t sustain major injuries from the accident but it does cause a setback for them in terms of their entrepreneurial dreams.  They arrive in town, desperately looking for a place to stay and jobs.  Cody finds a job at a local pharmacy and asks for an advance on her paycheck to purchase a place for them to live.  Billy finds a job as a day laborer moving mud for oil tycoon Hap Briggs.  Unfortunately, he is fired the same day due to a mishap with Hap’s son, Wick.  This news is disappointing for his wife because she finds out the same day that she is pregnant.  Billy assures her that they will make something happen despite seemingly endless streak of bad news.

Fearful of what the future will hold for her and their unborn baby, Cody is ready to give up until she overhears a customer at the pharmacy talking about the “McCutchen Land.”  This is land that Hap Briggs plans to buy in order to dig for oil.  She figures that if Billy could buy the land and intercept the deal, they could make a small fortune for themselves and get back on track to living their entrepreneurial dreams.  Of course acquiring the easement isn’t easy considering Billy and Cody don’t have any major collateral.  However, Billy’s quick thinking  and Cody’s gold and diamond necklace allow them to raise the money necessary to close the deal before the Briggs company representatives could.

Billy and Cody successfully intercept the deal and make 1 million dollars and also talk Hap Briggs into giving up 5 percent on any oil that they discover on the land.  This brings the two families closer together as business partners leaving Hap’s son permanently out of the picture.  Wick despises his father and his new wife, Darla, and after having been disowned by his father, he wants nothing more than to get back at them by stealing their oil to start his own business.  The episode ends with Wick’s plan to steal oil foiling.  Caught red-handed, Wick points a gun at his father but Billy knocks him down and tries to wrestle the gun from Wick.   The gun is accidentally discharged and  a spark from the gun sets the oil on fire leaving the audience on edge from this major cliff hanger – will the two of them burn up in the fire?

The Afterthought – My Take on the Season Premiere

As I said before, this show is not something that I would normally watch but I’m glad I did.  The first thing that struck me is how beautiful the backdrop for this TV show is.  The North Dakota landscape is simply breathtaking.  Another thing that I liked was the small-town feel that came across the screen.  City life is pretty much all I am accustomed to, so it was interesting to get a glimpse of small town life through this interesting tale.

Aside from the beautiful cinematography, I think that the first episode panned out like any other new show.  It really wasn’t intense but it was just enough to make you want more.  So far, we know that Hap Briggs’s son, Wick,  is a disgruntled troublemaker that keeps making his millionaire father look bad.  Hap disowns him after the accident on the land that ends up costing him over a million dollars.  From that point on, Wick is determined to carve out a niche for himself in order to compete effectively with his father.  While tension is building in the Briggs family between father and son, Cody and Billy too are desperately trying to carve out a niche for themselves using the Briggs name.  Their motives, though underhanded, aren’t as malicious as Wick Briggs’ motives are.  Although Billy is new to this entrepreneurship thing, I think he does a good job at purchasing the McCutchen land from Mr. Lundgren and selling it to the Briggs family, making a huge profit for himself in the process.  His wife Cody’s smart thinking allowed for this deal to be possible.  Hap is impressed with this young man’s bold business move and he welcomes Billy in as the son he wish he had.

At the end of the episode, we see Wick trying to break into Hap’s oil brigg and take steal some oil along with an acquaintance but they are intercepted by Hap and Billy.  Wick discharges a gun and the spark from the electricity lands in the oil that Billy and Wick are wrestling in and sets the pool of oil on fire.  Will they burn up?  Obviously not because then the show would have no purpose but I really want to know how they got out of the oil before it caught on fire.  This is where the first episode ended and that was quite enough to make me tune in next week.  This show left me realizing that small town drama can be more exciting that I initially assumed.

IMDb TV Show Synopsis

A couple looks to cash in on the modern-day oil boom in North Dakota.

TV Show Directors

Jonas Pate, Mikael Salomon

TV Show Writer(s)

Rodes Fishburne, Josh Pate

Main Actors/Actresses

Don Johnson, Chace Crawford, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Amber Valletta, Scott Michael Foster, India de Beaufort, Adan Canto, Miranda Rae Mayo , Delroy Lindo, Paul Rae, Keston John, Yaani King




The Afterthought – The Player Television Show Review

Photo credit - NBC
Photo credit – NBC

The Afterthought – Reel Focus blogger’s initial reaction to a new television show, new film release or television show season premiere.

There has been some talk that ‘The Player’ may not be a good as all the hype surrounding it.  Variety didn’t seem to be so fond of the show saying ‘the premiere talks a lot about gambling, in terms of a second season, don’t bet on it.’  On a much more positive note, Deadline Hollywood paints a rosier picture saying ‘the well-honed skills and sheer star muscle of  Wesley Snipes– which lifts the drama to a much more interesting place than you’d first expect.’  Clearly, I’m torn right down the middle.  So, instead of dealing with the good or the bad hype, I decided to watch it for myself to find out what’s really going on.  Here’s what I came up with.

My Synopsis of the Episode

The pilot show started out with Alex Kane protecting an international family at a prestigious hotel.  This hotel was supposed to be airtight with its security but in the first scene someone breached security and places the family at risk.  Alex Kane of course saves the day by thinking fast and outsmarting the criminal who tries to kill the family.  In the nick of time, he breaks through a window and tackles the bad guy. Well this is how it begins – in high action – so you know this is how the show must proceed through this episode and throughout its duration on television; otherwise it will get boring.

Luckily, it didn’t get boring for me.  The high action continued.  Seemingly every scene was full of thrills that kept me interested.  After his brief encounter with danger, Alex faces another dilemma.  His girlfriend who loves him dearly ends up murdered by an intruder and the cops try to pin it on him because he is the only one who supposedly witnesses this intruder.  After this scene, a mysterious woman named Cassandra King who is a part of a criminal organization appears and ‘kidnaps’ Alex.  She takes him to meet, Mr. Johnson, the leader of the organization that intends to make Alex a player in a vicious game of betting on whether a crime will occur or not.  The only way the crime will not happen is if Alex can intervene in time.

After his first test bet at the casino, the head of the organization welcomes him to their headquarters to explain more to him about the origins of their organization.  Alex becomes disgruntled after what they reveal because he feels they could have kept his girlfriend from getting murdered since they seem to know beforehand about a crime before it takes place. After their brief discussion and a brief struggle, Alex goes back out on a mission to save the daughter of the international family who had been kidnapped and held for ransom.  Kane realizes that the breach of security that keeps occurring must be because of an insider and the trail leads right to the head of their security team who had been orchestrating these security breaches.  Alex must intervene to save their daughter before the culprits kill her. He does but the cops come pouring in to arrest him.  Ironically, the FBI exonerates him and who is the head of the FBI.  Why Mr. Johnson of course.

The Afterthought – My Take on the Season Premiere

What can I say?  I like it.  I was worried when I read the initial critiques but I wasn’t displeased with the television pilot at all.  It left me wanting more.  As I revealed in a previous article, I’m not usually excited about network television shows but network TV is really upping their game this season.  Before watching the show, I was really excited about Wesley Snipes’ role.  However, upon watching it, I must say that Philip Winchester bought his A game too.  There was never a dull moment in this first episode and I hope that the writers can keep this momentum going.  I’m really looking forward to these fight scenes that Wesley Snipes is supposed to perform himself (not stunt men) according to what John Rogers informed us about in his article.  If you missed that interview, view it here.

Looks like to me, the cards were played right on this show – no pun intended.  I think this may be my new Thursday must-see television show.  I just hope others feel the same.

IMDb TV Show Synopsis

From the executive producers of The Blacklist comes a new edge-of-your-seat Las Vegas thrill ride starring Wesley Snipes and Philip Winchester. Running a high-stakes game of life and death, pit boss Mr. Johnson enlists Alex Kane, a former military man, to race against the clock to stop unthinkable crimes. Place your bets. 


TV Show Directors

Michael J. Bassett

Bharat Nalluri


TV Show Writer(s)

John Rogers


Main Actors/Actresses

Damon Gupton , Wesley Snipes , Charity Wakefield, Nick Wechsler, Philip Winchester , Chris Degner



Photo credit - NBC
Photo credit – NBC


The Afterthought – Empire Season Premiere Review

 Photo Credit: Michael Lavine/FOX
Photo Credit: Michael Lavine/FOX

The Afterthought – Reel Focus blogger’s initial reaction to a new television show, new film release or television show season premiere.

Last season, I got into the “Empire” craze late.  I had heard rumors from friends and co-workers that this show is fantastic but I wasn’t eager to watch it because in the back of my mind I thought “It’s network television, how good could this show really be?”  Well it’s a good thing that I didn’t let my prejudice cause me to miss out on one of the hottest shows that I have ever seen on network television.  I couldn’t believe some of the things I saw unfold before my eyes on screen.  This show really pushes the limits of what has been standard television and I like it.  With shows like this coming back to television, I won’t have to rely so much on cable surfing to find a great thriller.

In the last episode, we witnessed Lucious Lyon get taken to jail and his oldest son, Andre committed a crime that we’re not entirely sure is actually a crime yet.  How did the season open up?  Let’s find out.

My Synopsis of the Episode

I don’t want to spoil it for anyone so I will be very brief and mention the 6 most critical things that happened on the show.

  1.  Cookie Lyons opens up the episode with a ‘Free Lucious Concert’
  2. In jail, Lucious runs into an old dangerous acquaintance – Frank Gathers
  3. Mimi, a woman involved in helping Cookie perform a hostile takeover of Empire from Lucious is ironically working for Lucious – the family’s plan foils and Jamal is infuriated as a result of the family’s scheme
  4. Cookie is being viciously taunted by Frank Gathers even while he is jail so she visits Lucious to have him put a stop to it
  5. Frank and Lucious meet in jail and Frank wants his supposedly loyal jail mates to kill Luscious however they are loyal to Lucious and he has them to take care of Frank instead
  6. The episode ends with Jamal still brewing over the hostile takeover that Cookie schemed up and there is an implication that she has just incited a war, not with Lucious this time but with Jamal

The Afterthought – My Take on the Season Premiere

My, my, my!  What an opener!  I was amazingly calm throughout most of the episode.  I think this may have been what the production team wanted the audience to experience.  I felt like we were being eased back into the plot rather than hit with too much too fast.  Just as the ‘boat was steadied,’ it was shook up by the hostile takeover scene in which Cookie’s scheme to oust Lucious failed.  From that point on, we start to see the real Empire that we are accustomed to: the shadiness, the in-fighting, and most importantly Lucious handling business even while incarcerated.  Overall, I was very pleased with the opening episode and I certainly can’t wait to see what Jamal plans to do to get revenge on his mother for what she did.  It looks like the drama is getting ready to start cooking rather rapidly from now on and I hope that some of the stuff we’re still in the dark about will come to light soon enough.

 IMDb TV Show Synopsis

Lucious, the founder and CEO of a successful record label has been diagnosed with ALS. He must choose one of his three sons to take over the company when he dies. Meanwhile, his ex wife and co-founder, Cookie, has been released from prison and wants to reclaim her rightful place in the company.

TV Show Directors

Lee Daniels, Sanaa Hamri, Debbie Allen, Michael Engler, Rob Hardy, Anthony Hemingway, Rosemary Rodriguez, John Singleton, Danny Strong, Mario Van Peebles

TV Show Writer(s)

Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Ilene Chaiken, Joshua Allen, Wendy Calhoun , Eddie Gonzalez , Jeremy Haft, Eric Haywood, Attica Locke, David Rambo, Malcolm Spellman

Main Actors/Actresses

Terrence Howard , Taraji P. Henson, Bryshere Y. Gray, Jussie Smollett, Trai Byers, Grace Gealey, Kaitlin Doubleday, Ta’Rhonda Jones, Gabourey Sidibe, Malik Yoba, Derek Luke



Screenwriter John Rogers Talks About His Latest Action Thriller – The Player on NBC

11/19/2008 - John Rogers - Electric Entertainment Celebrates TNT's "The Librarian 3" and "Leverage" - Arrivals - The Cabana Club - Hollywood, CA. USA - Keywords: John Rogers - False - - Photo Credit: Albert L. Ortega / PR Photos - Contact (1-866-551-7827)


Reel focus readers I have a real treat for you.  A lot of great movies and shows are rolling out this season and I’ve been hot on the trail like a sleuth in a detective tale finding production people who can discuss their films or TV shows.  Ok so I am stretching the truth a little – I’ve been finding writers to discuss their films.  As you know, I’m a writer so I’m partial to other writers because I feel like most writers don’t get the accolades that they rightfully deserve.  So, pardon me if I show a lot of love to writers.

This week I have tracked down screenwriter John Rogers!  He is a powerhouse writer having written for a lot of films and television shows that we love – just check out his IMDb page here.  He has a new show debuting this week and let me tell you, I was floored when I saw Wesley Snipes in the previews.  Yes, Wesley Snipes will be making a comeback on Rogers’ new television show “The Player” on NBC.  I’m excited and can’t wait to see it but in the meantime, Rogers will tell us in his own words more about his career and more about “The Player.”

Tell us more about what television shows or films that you are known best for.

I’ve had a weird combo-burrito of a career, basically hopping from stand-up to TV to film and then back to TV, with a side trip into comic books. I created the animated show THE JACKIE CHAN ADVENTURES, co-created LEVERAGE on TNT which just finished a five year run, developed and ran THE LIBRARIANS on TNT and currently have THE PLAYER premiering on NBC this Thursday. Oh, and I co-wrote the first TRANSFORMERS movie.


You have written for television and film.  Do you like or prefer one medium over the other in order to express your writing creativity?

Given the choice between film and television, I’d always go to TV. You can tell longer form stories, take characters through involved emotional journeys, and you make it. I mean, make it NOW! The fastest I ever got a movie made was three years. Sometimes in television you write pages that are shot the next day.

I also enjoy the writer’s role in TV production. I like working with actors over a longer term, crafting and growing the characters over multiple episodes and seasons. The script is the score. The actors should get to play it in their key.


What is your motivation for creating the new action thriller “The Player” on NBC?

THE PLAYER was born of a conversation between myself and John Fox, an old friend and producer on THE BLACKLIST. He’d had a conversation with a friend who was a gambler, talking about how you wind up chasing the thrill of bigger and bigger bets, weirder bets. It somehow turned to “Would you bet on crime?”, to which the gambler replied “Yeah, sure.”

John brought that idea to me, and together we crafted that world — what it would take to run a system that gambled on crime, who would do it, and what that system would imply about the rest of the world. THE PLAYER is a straight-up action thriller, but we really want to examine the nature of power. How its maintained, controlled, and how it can never really be destroyed. Alex Kane is the one man in the Game we’re all trapped in who knows what’s going on. How he decides to play that game, what it says about us, is the real point of the show.

This is a big come back for actor Wesley Snipes.  Tell us more about why he was chosen to be in this television series.

Mr. Snipes kept coming up in conversation as we talked about the character of Mister Johnson. We wanted a morally ambiguous character, who was a mess of contradictions. Precise but violent. Cool and street but can walk in the corridors of power. Not moral, but deeply ethical. As we talked about he character’s history, we were saying “You know, like those action-hero types of the 90’s. Wesley Snipes.” Finally somebody at Sony said “Hey, you really need someone with the buzz to break us out of the Fall pack, AND we could, ya’ know, just ask Wesley.”

So Bharat Nalluri — the pilot director — and I went to dinner with Mr. Snipes, talked to him about the character and how TV in general works these days, and got him interested. I can’t speak for him, of course, but he said he was fascinated by the idea of building a character over long the term rather than the one-and-done of movies. He’s very new to TV, and really peppered us with questions about every part of the process, that night and over the course of the pilot.

That was really great — so many people come in from the film world and act like hey know how TV works. Mr. Snipes is a lifelong learner, and pulls apart a subject when it interests him. He’s been a great asset on the show, and every request he’s made has been about making the show better, never just about something for himself. It’s a pleasure to be working with him.

And he will knock your socks off. In the pilot, Mr. Johnson is very restrained, as it’s a story told through Alex’s POV. As the series goes on, you see him in action, both in the halls of power and some devastating action and fight scenes. Which, of course, he insists on doing himself. It’s just great.



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