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Cast, crew shoot sitcom pilot



Published: Sat, August 27, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Producers are hoping the plan is picked up by a major film company.

By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

YOUNGSTOWN -- A cast of local actors and filmmakers spent the weekend filming a sitcom pilot here, and they hope to spend 13 more weeks doing the same thing.

Cast and crew for "The Grace Family" set up shop in a spacious, lavishly furnished mansion in Liberty Township Saturday and Sunday for a second shooting of the pilot dealing with the rags to riches story of an inner-city black family.

Most of the cast members are from the Youngstown area.

The pilot is produced by Cleveland-based Black Castle Films and co-produced by Lemodeln Model and Talent Agency, owned by Linda Weaver. Should the pilot be picked up by a major film company, all 13 episodes of its first season would be filmed in the Youngstown area.

According to Weaver, a previous pilot of the sitcom was sent to Los Angeles-based York Entertainment. She said York Entertainment reviewed it and asked to see an expanded version of the pilot.

Weaver said the hope is that York Entertainment will sign on as executive producers of the sitcom and pitch it to major networks and cable television stations. A second look from York Entertainment, Weaver said, means the sitcom has a good chance of being picked up by that company.

"The fact that they came back to us and asked for more makes me feel our chances are really good," she said. "If the answer is no, then it is usually no right away," she said.

Show's goals

"The Grace Family" is about a poor black family that finds fortune and moves out of a lower-income neighborhood to a luxurious mansion when the family construction business takes off. The sitcom takes a comedic look at how the family deals with the changes.

Eric Brown, chief managing officer of Black Castle Films, said the sitcom is intended to appeal to anyone over age 13. He said messages of family values and the importance of maintaining a strong family unit will be a big part of the show -- something, he said, which is long overdue on such television shows.

"We definitely want to touch all ages," he said. "With the makeup of the cast, we plan to be appealing to all ages and races."

Anthony Foster, director of music for the sitcom, said if York Entertainment chooses not to pick up the sitcom, it may still find its way on to television. He said Black Castle Films could choose to market the sitcom directly to major networks.

"We are going to sell this regardless," he said. "If we have to sell this to the Japanese, we are going to sell this."

Work on the expanded pilot will be completed in the next few weeks. Producers do not know when York Entertainment will make a final decision.




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