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WINTER 2010/2011 NEWSLETTER
 

March 5, 2011

On March 21st Dominican University of California in San Rafael is sponsoring a book event called "In Conversation with Peter Coyote". Most of you know actor Ted Danson as the affable bartender Sam Malone on the television series "Cheers" but, like Coyote, he's also interested in environmental activism. He has written a book called "Oceana: Our Planet's Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save them". It's the story of how Ted became involved in marine conservation and how his dedication has deepened over the years. He describes the biggest issues facing our oceans - global overfishing, offshore drilling and ocean acidification. Peter will host the evening at the school's Angelico Concert Hall at 7 pm. The event is free with preferred seating with advance book purchase from Book Passage. Visit www.bookpassage.com for more information.

Peter's newest film project, "THE STORY OF BONNIE AND CLYDE" will begin shooting in late April in Missouri, Louisianna, Mississippi and Alabama. Tonya S. Holly will direct the film from her own script, which is a new adaptation of the story of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow rather than a remake of the 1967 classic film starring Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty. Holly began working on the project after reading old newspaper articles about the gangster pair in an abandoned house on her familyís property. The film stars Hilary Duff as Bonnie Parker, Kevin Zegers as Clyde Barrow, Michael Madsen as Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, Taryn Manning as the gold digger Mary O'Dare, Peter as Dallas Sheriff Smoot Schmid, and Lee Majors as Texas Prison System Director Lee Simmons. The shoot will last eight weeks with hopes of a November release.

I recently came across this old photograph that was taken back in 1987 by Alex Waterhouse-Hayward. It was evidently taken on a movie set, but I'm not sure which one. Is it not a great picture!

This spring Peter will take on an English-speaking role in a Spanish film called XPERIENCE THE FEAR, a psychological horror thriller. He will join the production for three weeks beginning May 18th. Barcelona's Rodar y Rodar ("The Orphange") is teaming with Sony to produce Spain's first 3D genre film. Rodar has tapped a first-time feature director, 26-year-old Sergi Vinzcaino to helm the project. Vinzcaino is a young and upcoming filmmaker whose shorts have won at many festivals. He has great flair and visual style and lives and breathes this story. The producers, as well as Sony, have a great deal of faith in him. The screenplay is by 25-year-old Daniel Padro, son of Targarona and Joaquin Padro. The film's cast come from some of Spain's hit TV series: Maxi Iglesias, Nasser Saleh and Luis Fernandez. DDT will be doing the special effects makeup - same people who won an Oscar for "Pan's Labyrinth" and worked on "Terminator 3" and "Big Fish".

The film revolves around two sisters who, with other students, visit an abandoned village to investigate alleged paranormal phenomena. 'Xperience' belongs to a growing breed of new Spanish productions that build on young creative talent, broadcast network co-financing, heavy marketing, local TV stars, and Hollywood major distribution in Spain to aggressively target Spain's 15-to-25-year-old crowd in and outside Spain. Variety reports that Sony Pictures Releasing de Espana will handle theatrical DVD and digital delivery in Spain. Mexico's Quality Films has prebought all Latin American rights. Prebuys from Spanish paybox Canal Plus and Catalonia pubcast TV3 are under negotiation. (This production has since been canceled)

January 12, 2011

Written and directed by Olallo Rubio, THIS IS NOT A MOVIE,  now has an official web site where you can view the trailer. Shot during the summer of 2008 in Mexico, the film's lead role goes to Edward Furlong ("American History X"). Besides Peter, the cast includes Edi Gathegi and Julian Sedgwick. Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash is credited with the original music score. The film will open in select cinemas in Mexico on January 28th and will also be screened at the European Film Market in Germany on February 15th. The synopsis reads: "With the end of the world imminent, Pete Nelson (Furlong) locks himself inside a Las Vegas hotel. There, he tries to understand his confused reality influenced by film,TV, pop culture, disinformation, drugs and propaganda. The journey that follows is a surreal, psychedelic, apocalyptic quest where nothing is what it seems." Reminds me of Johnny Depp's tripping out in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas".

Add "biodynamic agriculture" to your list of must-know terms. Ever the voice of environmentalists, Peter is the narrator of "One Man, One Cow, One Planet", directed by Canadian-born director Thomas Burstyn. The 56-minute documentary concerns the global agricultural model that relies on chemicals and gene-altered seeds and focuses on the work of New Zealand agronomist Peter Proctor with rural farmers in India. Mr. Proctor is working to educate Indian farmers on the benefits of returning to traditional agricultural methods and save them from the horrors of multi-national agri-chemical companies.  The film was screened at the Martha's Vineyard Film Festival  last Saturday.

Here's a photo of Peter with his LOLA (Law & Order: Los Angeles) crew - Seth Relin, Alfred Molina and Terrence Howard. The NBC series premiered on September 29th with Peter in the recurring role of District Attorney Jerry Hardin. Molina and  Howard play his two assistant DA's.

January 1, 2011

Filming wrapped last month for the French telefilm, VALPARAISO, in which Peter plays the head of a company that is accused of oil pollution. That, in turn, causes the death of a young woman. The political thriller will be aired as an Arte TV film in France. Here are some scenes from the film:

A documentary called "Reclaiming their Voice: The Native American Vote in New Mexico and beyond" by award-winning filmmaker Dorothy Fadiman has been added to Peter's ever-growing list of narrations. The 42-minute film follows Native Americans in New Mexico taking a stand against injustice in the political process. Personal stories demonstrate how minority communities are using their voting rights as they participate more fully in elections. These stories capture a microcosm of growing awareness and activism which is taking root across the United States. In addition to documenting the Native American suffrage movement historically, the film follows a groundbreaking project led by the Laguna, NM Native community. Their efforts lead to significant positive changes in New Mexico state election law. This story serves as a model for how other minority populations throughout the U.S. can work together to make sure they can cast their votes and that their votes will be counted.

Based on true events, THE LENA BAKER STORY recounts one African-American womans struggle to rise above the challenges of her life, to face the choices she makes, and to ultimately triumph over her impossible circumstances. Filmed in Georgia during the fall of 2007, this biopic, starring Tichina Arnold, will be released on DVD on January 4th. Lena Baker was the first woman to be sent to the electric chair in Georgia for the murder of her employer, who forced her into sexual slavery. Sixty years after her death, Baker was pardoned posthumously by the state Board of Pardons and Paroles. Peter takes on the role of Ernest B. Knight, her cruel employer. The $2.5 million feature film was written for the screen and directed by Ralph Wilcox. It premiered at the 2008 Atlanta Film Festival.

December 14, 2010

Many of you know that Nepal is close to Peter's heart so it comes as no surprise that he would be chosen to narrate "The People's Nepal". The 77-minute documentary, produced and directed by James Ellison Wills, focuses on the stories of the struggles of the Nepalese people, leading up to, during and after the 19 days of civil protest in April 2006 that forced King Gyandera to relinquish power and ultimately establish Nepal as a republic. Ten interviews are interwoven with, never-before-seen historical images, plus riveting footage of confrontations between the citizens and the police during this tumultuous time. The film provides a cultural and political overview of Nepal, and takes a look at the major changes the people of Nepal have faced in the past several years, from the massacre of the royal family to the struggle for democracy.

December 1, 2010

Peter is presently in Luxembourg doing a 90-minute French telefilm for Arte TV called VAPARAISO. Production began on November 16th and will continue through December 13th. Directed by Jean-Christophe Delpias, the political thriller also stars Jean-Francois Stevenin, Helena Noguerra and Thierry Godard. With the backdrop of the European Parliament and big business, the drama will follow the investigation of an officer of an oil company on the death of his ecologist daughter. She is found dead after the formation of an oil spill on the French coast caused by the sinking of an oil tanker. Peter plays the owner of the company and when it's discovered that he has been dumping Uranium and filthy oil into the ocean, revenge will be sought.

While browsing the Internet, I came across an insightful essay by Peter called "Why I Read". It was recently featured on the Green Apple Books web site but it was actually written in April 2006.

I read because I prefer being the casting director for my own imagination and expanding my circle of friends to include Odysseus, Anna Karenina, Julian Sorel, Richard III, The Snopses, and old ambidextrous Portnoy. There is no coffee shop or lecture hall in the world that can offer the breadth and depth of humanity I get from spending several hours with a good book.

In non-fiction, reading is the perfect antidote to sound-bytes, spin, leaden-headed reporters and talk-radio, which usually sounds like an ad for anger-management classes. Print can be highlighted, reviewed, clipped, scanned and pondered. It is, in effect, in-depth conversation with great and informed minds or wits that make what passes for comedy on TV seems like a runny ichor (a word you won't hear on TV).

Surrounding yourself with the concentrated work of men and women who have had the guts and temerity to wrestle with a subject for the length of time required to write a book is a corrective to shallow thought, leaping to conclusions, and running blindly through cross-fires of argument armed only with a punditís opinion masquerading as fact. Reading is the deliberate slowing down of the acquisition of knowledge and sensation, based on the time-tested truism that good ideas, like good whiskeys, need to mellow and accrete complexity and flavor over time. Finally, I love the company of books. They rest on my shelves like old companions who are ever ready to summon up shared memories and re-engage and review humanity's finest moments from earlier times.   ...Peter Coyote