Tag Archives: Hallmark Movie Channel

Kimberly Elise Taking Self Esteem Talk for Girls On the Road

Kimberly Elise plans to spend much of her summer traveling around the country, giving talks and leading workshops to help teen girls.

The four-time NAACP Image Award-winning actress of such films as “Beloved” and “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” participated in Florida’s recent “Choices & Consequences: Why Good Girls Like Bad Boys” conference that was arranged in the wake of the slaying of a young St. Petersburg mother whose boyfriend was a drug dealer. Elise gave a moving talk about a negative relationship out of her own past, before she went to college and was so anxious for validation from a man she “became a shadow of myself…I was so addicted to him.”

Now she says that talk was the beginning of what she hopes to do as she launches her Young Women Rising foundation, “to help young women develop their senses of self-worth, self-love and empowerment.  We’ll be doing all kinds of initiatives in the months ahead,” she reports.  A website, youngwomenrising.com, is planned for debut in a matter of weeks.

Elise’s “Hannah’s Law,” debuting tonight (6/9) happens to dovetail nicely with the cause she has taken on.  In the Hallmark Movie Channel original film, she plays the real-life, larger-than-life Old West character Mary Fields, a.k.a. Stagecoach Mary — the ex-slave who became a legendary cross-country mail carrier.  “I had to use my imagination a lot, because there’s not a whole lot out there to research — and there are tall tales about her that might or might not be true,” notes the actress.

She does know that Mary “was very brave, and she got into fights.  She would break at nose at two and be gardening by four.  She had a very soft side, and was very beloved by her town that she lived in.  She was one of the few women who were allowed to go in the saloon.  Not only was she a woman, but she was a black woman, so to be able to go into the saloon with the men was pretty phenomenal.  There is an old picture of her with the town baseball team — all these white guys and Mary.  She just loved the baseball team.”

In the movie, Mary is best friends with the fictional Hannah Beaumont (Sara Canning), a bounty hunter, and the two have each other’s backs through their dangerous adventure.  Danny Glover and Billy Zane also star.  Elise spent weeks learning to drive a stagecoach — for real — and to shoot antique weapons to play her role.  The biggest challenge, she says, was coping with Mary’s multi-layered wardrobe that included bullets and gun belts, as Mary was known for packing a pair of six-shooters and a ten-gauge shotgun.  “I had to be dressed by like, three people — and a whole team would have to come and undress me just so I could use the bathroom,” she admits. Still, “I loved every minute of playing her.  It was an honor.”

Certainly, Stagecoach Mary serves as example of female empowerment.  “I love that aspect,” says Elise, “and I love the relationship between her and Hannah, taking care of each other.  That’s how it works in real life, too.”

MEANWHILE:  Elise is up for American Black Film Festival Grand Jury Prize honors for her work in the Ghanaian film “Ties that Bind,” to be announced June 23.  She’s also awaiting word on “Bounce.”  The latter is a prospective VH 1 dance drama series for which she recently shot a pilot.

“It’s set in the world of professional sports…basketball.  It’s a really interesting piece,” she says.  “Me and Dean Cain and a lot of brilliant young actors are in it.”

First up: she’s giving the commencement address at the Cicely Tyson Academy in New Jersey come June 15.  Elise and the renowned actress she resembles are good friends and “I am so excited and honored that she asked me.”

‘Duke’ Drama Change of Pace for Steven Weber

            Playing a homeless veteran who is fraught with post-traumatic stress syndrome is not what Steven Weber would ever have expected of a Hallmark Movie Channel acting assignment.  However, that’s just the role the “Brothers & Sisters” and “Wings” star wound up with in his April 28 drama “Duke.” 

            “It’s not the standard Hallmark fare.  It was a deeper, darker Hallmark – but still appeals, I think, to their core audience,” Weber says.  Taken from real life, “Duke” is the story of the troubled veteran and his faithful companion of 10 years, a Border Collie named Duke – and the unexpected chain of events set in motion when the dog falls ill.

            “I’d been playing mostly bad guys in suits in recent years, so it was a chance to go deeper,” notes the actor.  “It was a great role full of amazing opportunities, selfishly speaking, to chew the scenery a little bit, and share scenes with an amazing dog.”

            Unfazed by the old axiom that actors should avoid scenes with kids or dogs, Weber found himself working with two canines in the title role.  “Zeek was the dog that played Duke 90 per cent of the time.  He performed beautifully, a true professional,” Weber reports.  “His trainers were invariably running off-screen and prompting him.  It was interesting.  Of course, he is a dog, and you have to be very patient; he didn’t hit the target all the time.  But thankfully there were a few instances when the camera was running and caught some genuine connection between him and I, which was really nice.”

           Weber considers himself “a dog lover, but indirectly.  I have two children, nine and 11, who are beginning to bug my wife and me for a dog.  But the lifestyle – our work has had us going all over the country, and it wouldn’t be fair to leave a dog.”  Right now, the boys are apparently making do with “the frog we bought at the Sharper Image that stays under water for two years” – which sounds like a real dud as a pet, if you ask us.  “No, it’s not,” Weber insists, dead-pan.  “They feed him and he has a nice view and it’s a lovely deal.”

            But he admits his sons are gaining ground in their dog lobbying.  The fact they heard all about “Duke” and Zeek during production — but couldn’t join Weber on location because of school — “is something they’re really using against me.”

Luke Perry Talks More ‘Goodnight’ Movies, Sitcom Possibility

Luke Perry Hallmark Channel photo

Luke Perry in a sitcom?  Maybe.  The actor who rose to fame as Dylan McKay on the original “Beverly Hills, 90210” tells us, “I’m talking to folks about that.  Comedy is really exciting to me.”  And, having guested on several sitcoms, he likes the schedule. “Half-hour comedy shows are like a play, one night a week.”

Perry exudes charisma and charm as his Old West circuit judge character, John Goodnight, in his “Goodnight for Justice: The Measure of a Man” movie that premieres on the Hallmark Movie Channel Jan. 28.  He created the character and serves as executive producer of the followup to his 2011 “Goodnight for Justice” telepic that earned the channel its highest ratings ever.  A third “Goodnight” movie is already in the can, and he’s sketching out plans for more.  “I’m really excited about keeping the door open on this franchise,” he says.

In “Measure of a Man,” the judge reunites with a former flame, and gets involved with her troubled teenage son who has become a gang member — 19th century style.  “I’m not trying to be bigger-better-faster.  I’ve always contended that Westerns don’t have to be all about action if you have interesting stories and characters, like the older pictures I like,” says Perry, a life-long fan of the Western genre.  He’s also a horseman to the marrow, with six horses of his own.

Perry says the “Goodnight” movies have done well abroad, which makes getting foreign financing easier.

As for what else he has brewing, “I have a lot of contemporary stuff I want to do, too — a couple of different shows I’ve been developing.”

His Westerns film in exquisite locales in British Columbia, and he notes, “I like to be out in the wide open space.  It’s difficult for me to be on a stage all the time or a studio lot.  I like being outside — but having said that, if it was the right situation, I would be open to another series.”