Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 8:57 pm Post subject:
After covering a series of interviews and the unveiling of a grave stone it became apparent to me that the film, “Woodpecker Waltz” beautifully written by Dan Leonetti, has become more than just a movie. The screenplay has become a rallying point in the struggle for equality and justice for mentally challenged people around the world. A true story about a mentally challenged person, Joe Arridy, who was wrongfully convicted of rape and murder of a little girl then executed in Colorado’s Gas Chamber in the Canyon City Territorial Prison.
Robert Perske, author of Deadly Innocence? the story of Joe, and world renouned champion of the mentaly challenged, was a most warm and wonderful human being. Truly a nobleman from a far-gone era, Mr. Perske was captivating as he shared his deepest heart felt feelings about this film project film project. His concerns for the innocent, the weak and the disabled was quite refreshing and in sharp contrast to our excepted contemporary ambivalence. He was a most elegant and graceful orator. Yet he showed his pain and anguish when he discussed Joe’s plight and how this poor human suffered until his untimely death.
Mr. Perske had a sidebar with an interesting point in history regarding eugenics. Though it’s not a popular historic point to recall, the US was also making designs on sterilization of the handicap as well as colonization and more or less a mirror image of what Hitler did a few years later in Germany. The attitude in America, the land of the free, was of total discussed over mental retardation. There was a desire to have a “Pure American Race”, hmmmmmmm……………….
Micheline Keller, President of Keller Entertainment Group, as well as Executive Producer, was completely taken by the story of Little Joe. As I viewed Mrs. Keller on the monitor I could not help but feel the energy within her as she discussed the project. Truly, she was a driven woman as well as a seasoned veteran of many productions on television and the silver screen. Though this project had the earmarks of an Oscar winning film, there was something else driving her.
Her husband Max Keller found the screenplay online while cruising for talent when he happened onto Dan’s story. He got a script from Dan and gave it to Micheline for her to read. After fighting all the emotions within her and struggling with streams of tears, it was obvious this story was not only commercially marketable, but it was also a story that had to be told.
As she spoke of the film I became aware of the humanitarian I was taping. She was not only going to make an epic drama, she was also going to leave the audience with the feeling of empowerment to speak out against wrongs when you see them. That people should always have to courage to draw the line between right and wrong, good and evil. Though this movie had great potential business wise, It also offered a vehicle in giving something to the audience that money could never buy, a taste of humanity.
I’ve worked on many projects in my lifetime and this one has taken on a life of it’s own. The people we’ve interviewed were more than happy campers with a new film project. They were driven come hell or high water to tell Little Joe Arridy’s story. Dennis Quad and John Goodman jumped onboard and now they see Oscar’s in their sleep. Emilio Esteves got booted from the project because his agent was playing hard to get. Don Johnson was hanging out like a fly in the fall. But I think all the parts required the actors to wear socks.
And all this hoopla over a screenplay my homie Dan wrote. So ah, where’s the pinhead that said there was no Natives in the mainstream media. Not every Native in the world needs to be recognized for their race to accomplish greatness. The screenplay is so moving that it brought a seasoned motion picture mogul to tears on the first reading.
So it was not about Native’s but a Native wrote it. Funny how the world over had the chance to make this flick long before Dan decided to write a story. So maybe it’s a Native flick after all. When you think about it, the screenplay was the vision of an Apache named Dan.
Your Devil’s Advocate
_________________ Creativity is the byproduct of a fertile mind