Cannes, France, May 20, 2004 (UPI) - Actor Peter Coyote will star in back-to-back sequels
filmed in Romania of Return of the Living Dead, producers announced at the Cannes
Anatoly Fradis' Los Angeles-based Aurora Entertainment Corp. will begin shooting Return
of the Living Dead 4: Necropolis and Return of the Living Dead
5: Rave From the Grave, June 7, said Thursday's Hollywood Reporter.
Both films, directed by Ellory Elkayem, were written by William Butler and Aaron Strongoni
and will have special effects done by Optic Nerve Studios. They are financed by a $35
million equity fund started last year by Fradis, who made Eight Legged Freaks.
The fund is based in America but backed by a group of private Eastern European and Russian
On Saturday May 8th, Peter was the commencement speaker for the
graduating class at the Morris campus of the University of Minnesota. Needless to say, his
message was "Activism can still work"! It was truly an outstanding address to
give a graduation class. Very personal, relevant and inspiring. Enjoy and read his entire commencement speech! The Prairie Renaissance Cultural Alliance
also hosted a reception for Peter at their Cultural Center in Morris later that day. The
public was invited to hear him read from his own writing.
Article from the Morris Sun Tribune (5/11/04)
The almost 400
graduates of the University of Minnesota-Morris might not have realized it, waking up to a
beautiful prairie spring Saturday, that unless they become even more engaged in political
and public life, the rest of their mornings might not be as contented.
Actor and social activist Peter Coyote reminded them as such as the
universitys Commencement speaker. Coyote, known for his work in films such as E.T.-The
Extra-Terrestrial, Erin Brockovich and Jagged Edge, is foremost an agent for
awareness and change in American politics and society.
"If students dont become engaged in the political process,
theyre going to wind up in a world that theyre not going to like, that is run
according to other peoples interests. And they are the only hope to change it."
Coyote graduated from Grinnell (Iowa) College with UMM Chancellor Sam Schuman
and his wife, Nancy, 40 years ago this month.
A smiling Coyote admitted he couldnt remember his own graduation speech,
or even the gender of the speaker. But he surmised that, based on other speeches he read
while researching his UMM address, it likely contained references to moving from childhood
to adulthood and some suggestions for handling the transition.
Coyote wanted UMMs graduates to realize that transition to accomplishment
is a continuing process.
"I never gave up," he said. "I never stopped staying engaged and
working for political change. So Im passing that message on, maybe as it was passed
on to me, but as someone who didnt quit. A lot of the people who pass on those
messages are part of the problem, as far as Im concerned."
Coyote isnt a handsomely wealthy and famed actor who associates with
causes as a means to garner more publicity.
He spent his early life in the San Francisco area working for political and
counter-culture causes in the 1960s and 1970s, much of which is chronicled in his 1998
memoir Sleeping Where I Fall. He later served on the California State Arts
Council, and still is involved in numerous artistic groups and organizations such as
Baykeepers, which tracks pollution and other problems of San Francisco Bay. Coyote also
was a delegate to the 1997 Democratic National Convention and covered the event for Mother
Through it all, he said hes sensed a struggle in the U.S. and its
"civic center" of political and public institutions and life. Wealth and
corporate culture dominates this "civic center" and has worked to keep the
citizenry disenfranchised to maintain their status quo and counter the desires of a
majority of Americans for changes in health care, environmental and defense issues.
"(Corporate leaders) are calling the shots," Coyote said, "and
the only hinge, the only gate by which the citizen can access it is through the vote. And
50 percent of the people dont vote.
"These people who are controlling things, its in their interests to
have a disenfranchised citizenry and they keep them disenfranchised by floating bread and
circuses in front of them. Everyone knows more about sports scores and celebrity fashion
haunts than the do about the voting record of the legislators who are spending their tax
dollars, or who supports their legislator. There are countless stories about the
sacrifices that come from making political struggles, and the kids are educated subtly and
directly not to participate. And so is it any wonder that they retreat in irony to the
Dennis Millers and David Lettermans, who basically suggest to them every night that the
only thing worth developing is a hip, ironic attitude, where you believe in nothing."
A grounding in a liberal arts education is important in learning what it means
to be a human being, Coyote said, but the message is no less important at any institution
of higher learning.
He cited a study that showed most leaders to be optimists while most pessimists
are correct, over time. Coyote pointed to Vietnam, nuclear power, environmental
issues,womens rights, alternative medicines and food. Changes in those areas
generally came against the wishes of elected officials, and those struggles need to
"Im still maintaining that tradition and being a spokesman for it and
pass it on to the next generation," Coyote said. "That not only is the struggle
not over, its not hopeless. Things change and we need to be part of it."
Update - May 8:
Bon Voyage is now playing at many theaters across the
country. Here are some comments from the San Francisco Chronicle:
Marin County's Peter Coyote is the only American in the delightful French comedy
Bon Voyage, and to this unsophisticated ear, his French sounds as good as that of
co-stars Isabelle Adjani and Gerard Depardieu. Coyote learned to speak the language in his
40s, when he got the notion of someday spending part of the year in Paris. Just because
he's fluent, though, doesn't mean he had no problems making the movie.
"English and French are extremely different for an actor,'' Coyote told me.
" With English, we breathe in the middle of a sentence and take breaks, but the
French talk until they are out of air. If you try to act like you do in English - you
know, method acting - which makes perfect sense for an American, if you do that in French,
you look like a psychotic.''
Coyote gets cut a little slack because he plays an English journalist working in
France. Still, he didn't want to make obvious mistakes. For instance, there's a line in
the movie where he tells Adjani, "You are running away from me all the time.'' There
are two similar verbs in French, fuir, which means to flee, and fuyer, which means to
search. "The difference is subtle, and when I was first over there, I couldn't hear
it. It would have been really ridiculous for me to say, 'You are searching me all the
time.' It would pull French audiences out of the plot. That's why I had to pay attention,
not for English-speaking people.''
This was a much better experience than the last time Coyote acted in another
language. He learned Spanish in three months to do Kika for Pedro Almodovar.
"It was one of the toughest things I ever did. I had to spend every waking moment
working with a coach. I did the whole film in Spanish, but Pedro dubbed my voice at the
end without telling me. He wanted me to speak faster. He was filming at a Billy Wilder
clip, and I was going too slow for him.''
For more reviews and info on this film, visit our Bon
Voyage film page.
May's installment of "The Active Opposition", hosted by Peter
on LinkTV, will feature a discussion on the forces that are influencing our current
military and foreign policies, and how the growing military budget is changing priorities
for America at home. Peter and his guests will examine how the redeployment of our
military since the fall of communism reflects our shifting national interests amidst new
threats from different corners of the world. Broadcasts will be on May 11 and 12.
Update - March 19:
Peter has been cast in the USA Network's new (limited) sci-fi series, The
4400. Other cast members include Joel Gretsch, Jacqueline McKenzie, Michael
Moriarty, Laura Allen, Chad Faust, Kaj-Erik Eriksen and Mahershalalhashbaz Ali. Created by
Scott Peters (The Outer Limits), and with
executive producers Francis Ford Coppola, Rene Echevarria
and Maira Suro, the series kicks off with an apocalyptic ball of light sailing
toward earth. In place of the expected catastrophic event, however, the projectile lands
harmlessly, discharging thousands of returned abductees left with no memory of their
otherworldly experiences. The 4400 people of various nationalities and walks of life have
been missing for periods ranging from several months to over 60 years, but yet they
haven't aged a day. Lead character Tom Baldwin and his new associate, Diana Skouris, must
investigate whether these "4400" hold the key to the planet's destruction or its
salvation. Peter will play Tom and Diana's boss, Dennis Ryland, a Vietnam vet described as
a multi-layered, complex man, trying to keep the governmental paranoia over the 4400 at
bay, while trying to figure out what happened to them.
Screenwriter Peters says the series is "more about what happens when people's
lives are interrupted in an extraordinary way. How do they go about putting themselves
back together? How do they deal with now suddenly being part of a new minority? How will
(some of them) reconcile the fact that almost everyone they knew has lived their lives and
are now gone, but they haven't aged a day. What if you were Rip Van Winkle? And of course
there will be other strange phenomenon the 4400 are going to have to deal with. They've
been changed in some way while they were gone and these changes will slowly being to
Yves Simoneau is on board to direct the production from March 15th thru April 9th in
South Vancouver. The network has ordered six episodes (including the pilot) of the
hour-long series, due to premiere this summer on USA.
Coyote sent along some recent photos, taken on February 24th. As you can see, his interest
in motorcycles has not waned through the years. All suited up and looking good at the
Keith Cole Superbike School at Sears Point Racetrack in California.
A documentary narrated by Peter called "Hollywood's Magical
Isle: Catalina" premiered at the 9th Temecula Valley International Film
Festival in September. Beginning with William Wrigley's acquisition of the Santa Catalina
Company in 1919, the history of the island is told through archival footage, stills,
interviews of residents, historians and celebrities. Through the remarkable eye of
first-time film director Greg Reitman, the viewer embarks on an armchair adventure through
time and nature in this captivating exploration of Hollywood's private playground.
Peter's French film, Bon Voyage,
starring Gerard Depardieu and Isabel Adjani, will be opening in LA and NYC on March 26th.
Last year Peter was back in France filming Le Grand Role,
directed by Steve Suissa, and now release dates have been set for September 8th in Belgium
and October 20th in France. Here in the U.S. Shadow of Fear (aka
Main Line) will open on July 14th.
There's a new link on the Archives page to vimalasangha.org.
This web site belongs to Coyote friend and Zen teacher, Lew Richmond. The Vimala
Sangha was formed in June 2003 by Lew and a group of senior practitioners in the Shunryu
Suzuki Zen lineage. Its mission is to teach and practice the traditional teachings of Zen
Buddhism in the context of modern American householder life.
Last week the third Tibetan Film Festival was held in St. Paul, Minnesota.on March 5-11.
Among the films and documentaries shown was Dreaming of Tibet,
produced by Will Parrinello and John Antonelli and narrated by Peter. The film, which
explores the cultural challenges faced by Tibetans living in exile, has been shown at
several film festivals. It includes appearances by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, actors
Richard Gere and Goldie Hawn and author/climber Jon Krakauer.
As many of you know, Peter narrated two of Carlos Castaneda's books - A Separate Reality and The
Teachings of Don Juan. Indican Pictures is releasing Carlos Castaneda
- Enigma of a Sorcerer, a film which offers an insider's perspective on the
man Time Magazine dubbed "Grandfather of the New Age Movement." Select
book narration by Peter will be included in this documentary. It will be released in
theaters in the USA and Canada this spring followed by a home video release on VHS and
Update - March 9:
Here are a couple more photos taken at the Miami Film Festival.
The left one shows Peter with Jamie Redford (yes, son of Robert Redford), who made his
directorial debut at the festival with Spin. Peter says he and Jamie are old pals
who used to play music together. The right photo shows our Coyote man with Bon Voyage
director, Jean-Paul Rappeneau and co-star Virginie Ledoyen.