“It’s the 75th anniversary of the all-American Soap Box Derby,” proclaims Corbin Bernsen. And if the “Psych” actor and independent filmmaker has his way, he’ll be bringing back that once-vastly-popular pasttime of creating and racing non-motorized cars — with his upcoming “25 Hill” feature starring himself and “Dolphin Tale” kid Nathan Gamble. He’s in the midst of a slew of grassroots activities, working to make it happen.
Already, he’s been on the road fronting screenings and Derby Tour racing events across the land for months. Now, with Season 6 of “Psych” newly in the can, the one-time “L.A. Law” star says he’ll be going pedal to the metal even more with his promo activities. That will be for most of the next six or seven months, until the movie’s general release. To say he’s full of passion is an understatement.
“Every weekend I say, ‘What am I doing?’” he confesses. “But when I did this film in particular — when I found out what had happened to the Derby, that it had collapsed, that kids aren’t making cars anymore…When I met racers and started talking to people, I started realizing, sometimes you just have to follow your heart and you don’t know what it’s for. There are core values that are intrinsic to the Derby — family, community, team work, sportsmanship, the great things. These are values that are deteriorating. I know it sounds simpleton, but I really believe it: our problems are so related to the breakdown of values, values we’ve fought wars for, crossed the country in covered wagons for. Still, they do exist, that spirit is alive. I see it.”
Bernsen wrote, produced and directed “25 Hill.” He was in meetings with distributors in L.A. last week, insisting, “I just can’t hand it off straight to distribution without being sure it’s going to be properly sold, if you will, for its greatest impact. ‘Hill’ is taking a lot more effort than a lot of things we’ve done,” he concedes. “There’ve been a lot of sleepless nights and working my butt off, but you know something? That’s how change happens — getting out there and doing something.”
MEANWHILE: Bernsen is psyched about “Psych.” “The big thing to look forward to this season is the incredible lineup of guest stars,” he says of freewheeling USA Network crime dramedy, in which James Roday plays a fake psychic detective and Dule Hill his longsuffering partner. And what a list. Already, Malcolm McDowell has appeared. Ahead are guestings by Danny Glover, Wayne Brady, Cheech Marin, Molly Ringwald, William Shatner, Greg Grunberg, Cary Elwes, Louis Gossett, Jr., Liza Lapira, Joey McIntyre, Jason Priestley, Wade Boggs, Sara Rue — and more. This week’s Halloween episode featured big-screen “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” star Kristy Swanson in a murder mystery that involved a vampire.
Bersen believes the attraction is, “It’s a really, really fun show to work on. If you’re an actor, sometimes it’s, ‘Hey, if I’m going to spend 10 days somewhere, I’m going to have a good time.’”