Mr. Hissom goes to Washington 


Remember last spring's historic Academy Awards ceremony? Remember when Denzel Washington told the rapt audience that accepting a Best Actor Oscar in the presence of Sidney Poitier was fun and all, but that what he really wanted out of his career was one day to appear on-screen opposite a member of the Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival?

Of course you don't. That scenario only transpired in a superior yet imaginary universe where all my clothes fit properly and John F. Kennedy is still president. It's coming closer to reality, though, now that OSF's perennial leading man, Eric Hissom, is playing a supporting role in Washington's next flick, "Out of Time," a suspense drama to be released in 2003.

Set in a fictional town in the Florida Keys, the movie casts Washington as a troubled cop who pays a heavy price for his ethical lapses. Hissom plays a hotel clerk, and though the actor won't divulge the nature of his character's relationship to Washington's -- that's where the "suspense" part comes in -- the Shakespeare Festival stalwart is obviously encouraged by what went down when he shot his initial scenes on location in Miami three weeks ago. Both Washington and the movie's director, Carl Franklin ("High Crimes"), were "super cool" to work with, Hissom says. The feeling is apparently mutual: Hissom is going back to Miami in August for more filming, after he finishes his off-season gig of directing a theatrical production of "Same Time, Next Year" at an Equity theater in Cape May, N.J., where he works every summer.

The "Out of Time" opportunity came to Hissom thanks to the working relationship between his agent and the Kimberly Mullen Casting firm, which procured the film's local talent. The part of the clerk was actually the second one he sought; the first was ultimately cut from the script. I choose to take it as another sign of the filmmakers' confidence in Hissom that they didn't throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.

So how meaty is this role, which Hissom calls his most extensive movie work to date?

"Pretty small, really," he humbly rushes to clarify. "I have some lines. I don't think it'll be a blink-and-you-miss-it `situation`, but that's the thing about film. You never know."

According to Variety, Washington will set a personal record by taking home $20 million for his appearance in "Out of Time." Expect Hissom to collect slightly less. There's no limit to the professional mileage he can accrue, however, by hitching a ride on Washington's cinematic star. After all, it carried Ethan Hawke all the way to the Oscars last year. And his Shakespeare isn't even all that hot.

Shooting spree

Dredging up memories of Hawke's hangdog Hamlet brings with it the mental image of amateur videographers skulking around with digital cameras. A posse of similarly intense auteurs is about to be turned loose on our community by Creative Stages, the media-and-performing-arts educational center that opened a few months ago in west Winter Park. Creative Stages is getting involved with "Group 101," a Los Angeles-bred initiative that brings budding filmmakers together once a month under the mandate that each shoot a short subject based on a given theme. Thirty days later, everybody reconvenes to watch each other's work and trade helpful critiques.

Participants in the local version of the program will pay a yearly membership fee of $100, with additional charges granting access to DV cameras, nonlinear editing equipment and other tools of the trade. Colin George, the president and co-owner of Creative Stages, plans to make the monthly screenings open to the public and the films available as streaming video on the facility's website, www.creative-stages.com. We regular Joes and Janes, however, will only see the cream of the crop: "Group 101" members will have the option of destroying shorts with which they are dissatisfied, rather than endure snarky catcalls from the likes of us. Not that George advocates such face-saving tactics:

"You don't fail if you make something that sucks," is his philosophy. "You fail if you don't make anything at all."

Unless you're Ethan Hawke, that is. Or have I used that joke already?

Aaron go Bar

Fiercely talented actor Aaron Wiederspahn, last seen in the Orlando International Fringe Festival hit "La Putain avec les Fleurs," will join the cast of the improv-theater experience "Joe's NYC Bar" for a new run of performances that begins July 19 at the Temenos Ensemble Theater on West Church Street. The July slot at Temenos was supposed to be filled by an interactive art-gallery show, but that project -- tentatively entitled "Opening" and a co-production with Chad Lewis' Invisible Arts -- has been postponed until Aug. 24.

Though Temenos co-founder Christian Kelty, who is also a spoken-word poet, didn't make it to the team of locals who are headed to the August National Poetry Slam in Minneapolis, Minn., he obviously harbors no hard feelings: On July 18, his theater will host a black-tie benefit to help pay for Team Orlando's airfare and accommodations.

Never mind

Just last week, I advocated that the Fringe festival return to its late-April time frame for next year's edition, in order to give ticket buyers a longer financial-recovery period before the start of the June Florida Film Festival. Since then, talk has persisted that the latter event's status as a summer affair may not be etched in stone. The film festival's staff says that rumors of a move to February, November, or God-knows-when-else are just that -- rumors. But the murmuring has for now grown loud enough that I'm going to tentatively withdraw my appeal to the Fringe, for fairness' sake. You folks set your schedule as you see fit, and I'll go back to my all-American modus operandi of only complaining after it's too late to do any good.


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