O 'Brothers,' where art thou?

For two years now, followers of Central Florida filmmaking have awaited the release of The Brothers, director/writer Jonathan Figg's feature-length version of his funny short about wannabe white rappers. Major developments -- like the casting of 'N Sync vocalist Joey Fatone in a supporting role -- have been few and far between as Figg soldiered on in his quest to produce a finished work that would justify the wait and the hype.

So a lot of us were surprised to learn that the film would finally be released March 23 --and would be distributed by Sony's Screen Gems arm, no less. How could Figg have pulled off that one?

He didn't. Sony's "The Brothers" is a wholly unrelated project, a comedy about black urban professionals that's far more akin to 1999's The Best Man than to Figg's vision. But that hasn't stopped numerous media outlets -- like Rolling Stone magazine and reel -- from confusing the two. And driving Figg up a wall in the process.

"For months, the Internet Movie Database had merged both films," he complains. "It took months of e-mails and calls" to straighten it out.

Worse, he says, is the knowledge that he had secured the title "The Brothers" "well before Sony's picture even reached the embryonic stage." But that close-knit network, the MPAA, chose to ignore his claim and grant title clearance to the major studio.

Rather than responding in true gangsta style (follow enemies to crib, fire shots, break up with Jennifer Lopez), Figg is staying productive. When he isn't hunkered down at Universal Studios editing footage or overseeing final pick-up shoots, he's pursuing national and local music acts to appear on the film's soundtrack. A 35mm print should be completed in May, allowing him to finally put his baby on the festival circuit.

Nothing prevents him from entering the film into competition as "The Brothers." But when and if it's picked up for distribution, the moniker will have to change. He's even precluded from using a phonetic variation like "Da Brudders."

At least he's not desperate enough to entertain the misguided suggestions he claims to receive from concerned parties every time he goes out. Past lulus include "Pete and Lanny's Wild Adventure," "White Mic" and "Scrambled Eggs and Ketchup" -- the latter an obscure reference to the movie's yellow-and-red color scheme.

"My lawyer came up with that one," he groans. Silly attorneys. What have they ever done for a "Brother?"

Bear club

You can't keep Sean Keohane down. But can you keep him in pants? Last April, the playwright/actor gifted the Orlando International Fringe Festival with "Inspector Jipps and the Club of Castrated Men," an original comedy that was spiced with winkingly gratuitous nudity. Though Keohane narrowly avoided the anti-flesh hysteria that briefly overtook the festival, the possibility of actual arrest hung over his cast for a short but nerve-wracking period.

Eleven months later, Keohane's head remains unbowed. (Among other things. Boom-cha.) Audition notices for his contribution to Fringe 2001, a surreal one-act comedy titled "The Torture Chamber of Dr. Bear," clearly state that birthday suits will again be part of the wardrobe.

"The reason I'm doing it again is because it isn't illegal," Keohane says -- though that detail escaped the policemen who issued warnings against bod-baring at last year's Fringe shows. "It was so silly," he reflects. "They just needed to go to the mayor to have it dropped."

"Dr. Bear" is a kids'-show spoof in which a burnt-out bear puppet loses control of his TV program and ultimately his life. ("It's like the E! True Hollywood Story," he explains, "but without that guy's voice.") Keohane promises an evening of "nudity, puppets and maybe nude puppets." I wonder if anyone will show up in a T-shirt reading, "I'd rather go naked than wear fur."

The good news is that Keohane probably won't be one of the actors dropping trou'. "I don't want to see myself naked again," he demurs. He only did so in "Inspector Jipps" because a cast member chickened out; still, watching his skinny white hide streak up the aisle of the Pink Venue brought me a little closer to local theater than I ever want to get.

Watch where you lay your hands

The new SoulFire Traveling Medicine Show theater company is renewing its investment in Brian Friel's "Faith Healer." The drama, which recently wrapped a well-received run at Zoë & Company, will be reprised Saturday, March 24, at a meeting hall in Cassadaga. High-concept, indeed: An expanded package includes psychic readings, a walking tour of the area, a twilight buffet, a postshow discussion, coffee and dessert.

SoulFire co-founder Rus Blackwell (who visited Cassadaga a few months ago to research his leading role) says that the town council is excited by the synchronicity between their community and the spiritually minded play. Wonder how the locals will enjoy "Faith Healer's" attendant suggestion that the working of miracles opens the door to alcoholism, detachment and failed relationships. Dessert, anyone?

Reel world education

If you think Orlando is overrun with cameras now, just wait until next fall, when the University of Central Florida extends its film curriculum from a two-year into a four-year program. Professor Jonathan Mednick wants to make sure that underclassmen and overclassmen alike have plenty to do: Mednick, who came to the school this semester bearing a strong resume of film and TV credits, is trying to strike a deal to shoot his next small-screen series here. In the meantime, his 2000 reality drama, American High, will be run in its 13-episode entirety beginning April 4 on WMFE-TV Channel 24. Its original network, Fox, broadcast only the first four installments of the series last year before pulling the plug in favor of loftier fare like Temptation Island. ... Trilemma Productions opens the curtain on its interpretation of Roger Rueff's Hospitality Suite this Thursday, March 8, at the Gallery at Avalon Island -- one week earlier than was previously announced. An art-show booking forced Trilemma to have its temporary, 50-seat theater in and out of Avalon's second-floor gallery by early April. Owner Ford Kiene has reportedly promised to convert the upstairs area into a permanent theater if "Hospitality Suite" makes a strong enough showing. I'll take two seats, but far away from anybody naked.

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