Kismetic News

Here's my own news and some official press releases

F.S. Key After the Song releses nationally

Posted by Philip J Marshall - in Kismetic News

After nearly 6 years of production and development F.S. Key After the Song is in distribution on public television. American Public television and Maryland Public Television distributes the program. You can find out more about it on the website or also on the IMDB here

Chris Funkhouser, vice-president at American Public Television commented, “You've created a new genre and format with these programs.” the official press release is here

Filming Completed of Actor Portrayals for F.S. Key After the Song

Posted by Philip J Marshall - in Kismetic News

These are shots of the last 3 of 13 performers portraying dead historical characters who influenced Francis Scott Key's life shot at Maryland Public Television Studios in Owings Mills, MD recently. The characters, John Randolph of Roanoke was a lifelong member of congress and close friend of Francis Scott Key. Randolph’s cousin was Thomas Jefferson and he is known today as a hero of the conservative movement. However, Randolph was a States Rights proponent and constitutionalist which officially put him on the right but he would have nothing to do with the conservatives of our time, and would probably be spinning in his grave if he knew he was being connected to them at all. The other characters are Juba, Randolph’s slave and personal companion, and Nat Turner the slave/preacher who successfully mounted a mass revolt and in so doing lit the fuse for civil war.

The actors are from top-left-right order – Phil Proctor from "Firesign Theater" fame and recently performing voices for popular Pixar moves. Phil did an extraordinary performance of John Randolph and captured his unique vocal qualities as well as his super eccentric nature. Juba was portrayed by Baltimore based actor, Gavin Whitt. J. Arthur Brooks gave a moving performance recreating Nat Turner receiving the word from God that he should go ahead with his gruesome plans.

The really fantastic news is that our wonderful patrons have promised to get us the funds to finish and release the project. So music is in production and I’m up to my neck in editing. We’ve changed the release date for the project and the three hour series along with a re-rerelease of my first hour on Francis Scott Key writing the song, will now be on PBS stations nationally in September 2017.

Filming of Actor Portrayals Continue for F.S. Key After the Song

Posted by Philip J Marshall - in Kismetic News

We filmed 6 more actor interviews with actors portraying dead historical characters influential in Francis Scott Key's life at Maryland Public Television Studios in Owings Mills, MD. This makes a total of 10 out of 13 planned performers. This was just amazing for all who witnessed, as our group of talented actors "became" the historical characters.

The actors who participated are from top-right in order - Gary Sandy from "WKRP in Cincinnati" fame. He did a knock out performance of President Andrew Jackson and made me feel as if I was actually talking to him. Next was Tony Award winner Boyd Gains of "One Day At A Time" and many other memorable performances adding his chilling portrayal of Roger B. Taney, Key's brother-in-law and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court/"Dred Scott" fame. Then the incomparable John Astin played Edgar Allen Poe, and Karen Lynn Gorney performed the Washington socialite Anna Thornton who's slave caused the Washington Riots of 1835. Last but not least was Bruce Nelson of Baltimore's Everyman Theater fame playing William Lloyd Garrison and J. Emerson McGowan playing Samuel Eli Cornish. All of them gave extraordinarily believable performances.

Our wonderful patrons have given additional philanthropic donations to allow us to finish all of the principal photography. So we can complete the last studio filming session with three more actors as soon as they are cast. There is still more fundraising to do to complete the music and editorial aspects of the project for national distribution on PBS stations nationally in February 2017.

Filming of Actor Portrayals Begin for F.S. Key After the Song

Posted by Philip J Marshall - in Kismetic News

We filmed the first 4 of 12 studio interviews with actors portraying dead historical characters influential in Francis Scott Key's life at Maryland Public Television Studios in Owings Mills, MD. This was a tremendous opportunity and pleasure for me as it represents the cumulation of 3 years of writing and research.

It is a deliberate decision on my part never to see Francis Scott Key as he was such a paradox of an individual. I want the audience to decide in their own minds what he was actually like for the stories and descriptions of those that knew him. I know that the script seems like a real windbag of never ending talk but I have always been fascinated how you can become transfixed by a great interview and talking head and you sometimes don't need more. Given the terrific performances I got out of this first group of actors I'm confident that it will find a very interested audience.

So thus far we interviewed; Mary Tayloe Lloyd Key (Polly), Francis Scott Key's wife, played by the wonderful Mid-Atlantic actress Deborah Hazlett, Margaret O'Neil Eaton the lady responsible for the Jackson Administration's "Pettycoat Affair" which led to the firing of his entire cabinate - aptly played by New York Actress, Deirdre Brennan, Clem - The Key's loyal by crafty farm manager slave played by Mid-Adlantic actor Cliff McMullen who brought extraordinary depth and believability to the part, and Arthur Bowen the Washington City Slave who caused the riots of 1835 by Mid-Atlantic actor Gary-Kayi Fletcher who gave a knock out performance. I'm particularly happy and proud that this was Gary's first SAG-AFTRA job. I will be albe to say I knew him when.

So we've raised enough money at this point to do one more studio filming session with another four or five actors in the next few weeks. They it's back to the dregs of fundraising so I can complete the filming. We have to finish the filming by Mid-Summer in order to deliver the final programs for national distribution. We hope to air the show on PBS stations nationally in February 2017.

Development Begins on Seeking Justice

Posted by Philip J Marshall - in Kismetic News

We started research, fundraising and shot a promotional video for this new and timely film. It’s a contemporary, compelling, in your face, 120-minute documentary program special about Hate, Fear, and Ignorance for a multi-generational national and international audience. Using the life story of former federal prosecutor Doug Jones as the central theme, the film will interweave the trial and conviction of two Ku Klux Klan members responsible for the 1963 Birmingham, Alabama church bombing that occurred 30 years after the event, with comparison and contrasting stories of Hatred, Fear and Ignorance, creating a rich tapestry of understanding that may help lead to answers for the world.

The recent peeling back of many civil rights advances including invalidation of a key part of the Voting Rights Act, draconian attitudes to immigration, regular flare-ups of extreme sex and gender discrimination, attempts to justify discrimination on religious grounds, and hard-line political intransigence are retarding advances in the South and across the nation in a new era of dangerous economic and racial segregation facilitated by extreme wealth disparity. The events in Baltimore Maryland unfolding right now and the sight of an armed vehicle being used to help marshal forces against African-American protest in Ferguson, Missouri, last year was unsettlingly familiar for anyone with recall of the events of 1963 in Birmingham. It harks back to a dark period in history when African Americans—a significant portion of the community—were regularly under siege from those assigned to protect them. As frustration over racial issues spill onto the streets into full public view again, Jones calls for meaningful changes to the political landscape and a reset in the mindset dealing with discrimination and disadvantage to avoid opening the door to the kind of terrorist calamities that shook the nation 50 years ago.

This film can educate and remind the world of the lessons gleaned from the past and is not an exercise in political point scoring but a non-partisan use of empirical evidence to disrupt the creep of extremism. We have an opportunity to make sure that the those four girls in Birmingham play an important role in helping to educate the public of the dangers of Fear, Hatred, and Ignorance so that their deaths shall not have been in vein.

Production of Seeking Justice: Reflections of a federal prosecutor is planned for late 2015 with the premiere broadcast targeted for 2016. We are seeking corporate and philanthropic underwriting of $600,000 to finance this necessary project.

Production Begins on F. S. Key after the Song

Posted by Philip J Marshall - in Kismetic News

We began shooting the story of the second half of Francis Scott Key’s Life, F.S. Key after the Song. The Delaplaine Foundation of Frederick, MD was so happy with the result of the first film, F.S. Key and the Song that Built America that they enthusiastically supported the production of the second film to finish his story.

This documentary will shoot in the same style and technique used for F.S. Key and the Song that Built America. It will be participatory with the filmmaker hosting and will also include interviews with leading scholars of our time. The use of historical recreation and actors to portray the actual historical characters will also be expanded in this film. Mary Tayloe Lloyd Key (Polly) played by actress Debora Hazlet will continue to tell Key’s story but we will also include actor portrayals of, President Andrew Jackson, John Randolph from Roanoke, Roger B. Taney, Benjamin Tappan, and even Frederick Douglas and a few of Key’s own slaves to tell his story. A frank discussion on Slavery will at one point emerge allowing the characters feelings and beliefs to be told in their own words. The production will be shot in Maryland and other locations around the country in 2015, with a national release in July of 2016.

We are suffering the effects of Slavery to this day and perhaps it is our penance but the path to full recovery for our nation is education and understanding, and like castor oil it is a subject that is constantly avoided. As we mark the 150th anniversary of the ending of the Civil War perhaps looking back and reflecting on the period that preceded it can help us better understand ourselves, and how we evolved into who we are today.

Update: We’ve completed filming in New Orleans, LA, Tuscaloosa, and Atmore, Ft. Mitchell, Alabama, Nashville, TN, Starkville, MS, Washington, DC, Various locations in Virginia and Texas. 90% of the interviews are completed with our historians and consultants. A few more interviews are planned for early summer then I can write the script for the recreations!

Great Performances: Star-Spangled Spectacular - Live from Baltimore!

Posted by Philip J Marshall - in Kismetic News

We did it! The three-year trek to a live national program was successfully completed. I was the producer for Maryland Public Television on this amazing program for the PBS Great Performances series. We doubled normal viewing ratings for the series!

Maryland Public Television hired Dick Clark Productions to line produce this once-in-a-lifetime celebration. The Star-Spangled Spectacular was a two-hour special live that featured a diverse line up of entertainers paying tribute to the bi-centennial of the writing of our national anthem in a thrilling and inspiring concert at the Pier Six Pavilion at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore with tall ships and naval vessels serving as a stunning backdrop. The program also included ceremonial activities at Fort McHenry, historical highlights and a dramatic fireworks crescendo and of course four historical segments created by myself.

A link to watch the whole show is here in the WORK area of my website! Be sure to skip around to the historical segments.

F.S. Key and the Song that built america feeds nationally!

Posted by Maryland Public Television - in Press Release

F.S. Key and the Song that Built America was released to public television stations nationally on September 2, 2014 and MPT broadcast the documentary on Thursday, September 11 at 8 pm (EDT) on MPT-HD. The program was rebroadcast on MPT on Friday, September 12 at 9 pm.

The documentary is a portrait of a well-recognized yet somewhat obscure individual who became famous through a single defining moment of his life – the writing of The Star Spangled Banner, which became our nation’s national anthem in 1931. It is the story of Francis Scott Key, amateur poet, songwriter, and lawyer from Frederick, Maryland.

War of 1812 expert Donald Hickey, author and professor at Wayne State University in Nebraska, notes that, “This excellent film shows how Francis Scott Key came to write The Star-Spangled Banner even as it dispels a number of myths connected to the story."

“I chose to make the documentary in a participatory style. It’s a unique experiment and a technique infrequently used with historical storytelling. I think it reflects a more modern and popular approach for younger audiences,” says Philip J. Marshall, MPT’s filmmaker-in-residence. A participatory documentary is an inclusive and collaborative process that engages communities in designing and carrying out the telling of their own story. Participatory productions reflect the voices of persons impacted by an event or ongoing situation.

Lauren Mills, content and acquisitions manager at American Public Television, observes, “The program's unique approach and humorous touches set it apart from the traditional talking-head documentaries and make for an accessible and entertaining historical program.”

Watch a sample of the program here in the WORK area of my website!