WTF IS FYC?
STARDUST BY PROXY
A SERIES CONTINUING AFTER EMMY
LIVING IN HOLLYWOOD AND NAVIGATING THE DEAD
Before the screening at Hollywood Forever Cemetery begins, yes, an actual cemetery that has hosted film screenings and special events for several years, an early arrival is in order, because tonight, the screening is also open to the public as part of Cinespia's calendar! Wondering how navigating all of this was going to work, I called the publicist, whom I'd met at another FYC event. You see, I remember the early days of Cinespia in 2002, when the cemetery screenings were intimate word-of-mouth happenings that made you feel both uncomfortable and excited by the novelty of the idea. Of course, becoming a patron of any event in LA requires careful consideration of the details: the potential size of the crowd, the wait lines, parking, travel time, and in the cemetery, the weather and what you need to bring to sit on to be comfortable. No we're not sitting on or around actual grave sites, but at Hollywood Forever, the crowd camps out on the Douglas Fairbanks lawn and watches screenings on the wall of the Cathedral Mausoleum. Today's the word's obviously out, so Cinespia's events are heavily attended losing some of their "cool factor," and getting the lay of the land for tonight's merged FYC event was a good call on my part.
A LITTLE MORBID HISTORY
The Hollywood Forever Cemetery was founded in 1899 by two men: Isaac Lankershim and Isaac Van Nuys (Lankershim's son-in-law.) Residents will immediately recognize their last names as current names of busy San Fernando Valley streets, with Van Nuys also designating a specific residential area there. I believe these guys meant well when they started the business, but in 1939, Jules Roth bought the majority stake in the business and that's when the cemetery's problems and all sorts of drama began. Sure Roth was wealthy, but he was also a convicted felon who allowed the business to fall apart to support that wealthy lifestyle of his. Later, it was discovered that $9 million was also missing from the endowment fund that had been established for the cemetery's perpetual care. Roth, his wife, and his parents are interred in the Cathedral Mausoleum. I am more creeped out by learning this guy's lingering energy rests on the other side of the "screen" than I am at the prospect of hanging out in an overall resting place for the dead.
Brothers, Tyler and Brent Cassity, were not much better. Yes, as the new owners, purchasing the now run-down cemetery for a scant $375,000, they invested big money in an effort to restore the place, capitalizing on the fact that the site holds the remains of culturally significant people and well-known entertainment industry professionals, including a list of movie-types like ... Charles Chaplin, Jr., Harry Cohn, William C. DeMille, Nelson Eddy, Douglas Fairbanks Sr, and Jr., Don LaFontaine, John Huston, Jayne Mansfield, Adolphe Menjou, Tyrone Power, Johnny Ramone, Nelson Riddle, Edward G. Robinson, Mickey Rooney, Tony Scott, Rudolph Valentino ... but in 2010, the Missouri Cassity cemeterian clan was indicted in a $600 million federal fraud case tied to a pre-need funeral contracts scheme. Although Brent Cassity was charged in the case, his brother, Tyler, the current owner of Hollywood Forever Cemetery, has not been charged. And of course, TV was all over the scandal:
FUNERAL SCAM FAMILY GETTING THE SPOTLIGHT ON "AMERICAN GREED."
The people behind a funeral syndicate — sentenced to federal prison for defrauding thousands of clients out of more than $450 million — now get a chance at also being famous.
In an episode set to air at 9 p.m. Thursday on CNBC, "American Greed" will focus on National Prearranged Services Inc. of Clayton, a company that a judge described as "an enormous Ponzi scheme.”
The title of the episode is "Six Feet Plunder."
In 2013, six people were sentenced to various prison terms for a variety of frauds, money laundering and conspiracy:
Company owner James "Doug" Cassity, was given more than nine years; his son, Brent Cassity, 46, received five years; chief financial officer Randall K. Sutton, got seven years; lawyer Howard Wittner, was hit with a three-year sentence; and longtime employee Sharon Nekol Province, drew 18 months. The only defendant to go to trial, investment adviser David Wulf, received a 10-year sentence.
In 2015, a federal court jury awarded $491 million in damages in civil lawsuits connected to the NPS situation.
Joe Holleman's St, Louis, June 17, 2016
From what I surmise, Cinespia's deal with Hollywood Forever is just that - a business deal.
THE PATH's FYC IS ONE OF MY TOP EVENTS THIS SEASON
For only the second time in my history of attendance at FYC events, I am first in line! (The other was for DaVinci's Demons at Linwood Dunn.) My guest and I adorn our entry lanyards and begin the walk through the grounds by passing a cage of peacocks as the crowd follows us to the Douglas Fairbanks lawn.
This resting place located in the middle of the fray of Hollywood at the backdoor of Paramount Studios is really quite a lovely sanctuary. Once at the lawn, I see that for tonight, it's been cleverly partitioned and in keeping with the show's cult-like theme.
Hi Path lanyard guy! And in we go!
Since we're the first inside, more lay of the land surveying is in order. They thought of everything. We didn't need those chairs we'd lugged in after all!
Inside our FYC area, the drinks are already flowing with servers on the ready with special honey-vodka drinks ... so yummy! One of the nicer touches? Handmade flower wreaths! Check it out!
As the crowd swells, hunger pangs begin and it's time to find the food. Along with an Italian-style buffet, the word spread that one of the "regular" onsite food vendors is offering burgers and fries to our clan as well as the regular public, but you must leave the compound to get the goods. Even though fries always light me up inside, I was more comfortable inside the compound, thank you very much.
Check out my pano of the festivities!
It's always fun to go to parties with a friend! Here we are fully wreathed!
FYC's bring people together for the Emmy season. Sometimes we don't see one another for a year, until these events!
OK, SO THAT'S THE PARTY, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE SHOW?
The series is based on a fictional cult. Apparently, its title was changed from The Way to The Path, because it was too similar to an actual ministry/possible cult entitled, The Way International. In The Path, Meyerism employs a spiritual hierarchy, where advancement to the Upper Rungs of senior membership is outlined in the founder's (Dr. Stephen Meyer) book, entitled, The Ladder. Meditation, biofeedback, drugs, counseling, recruitment and outreach service, are all means toward higher consciousness among followers. The faith of the Uppers is questioned and the prospect of power over others unseats the movement's efforts toward personal enlightenment as the the need for control and desires of the flesh prove to be stronger than any path one chooses to follow.
It's only been about a half hour and some of the cast members are already mingling amongst our tribe, which made for some great photos posted below, but it's the after-panel that provides a forum for the actors and creators to comment on their work in the show. Here's what they had to say.
THE PATH'S PANEL OF ACTORS AND CREATORS
Michelle Monaghan is drawn to the unique world of The Path. Coming off True Detective, spoiled and wondering if she'd find anything else like it tells us, "It was the first thing that really struck me as something I wanted to be a part of." For Monaghan, the creator (the show's creator, not the scripted character) has ability to create a world with a grey area, a darker side with moral ambiguity to explore in our daily lives.
Aaron Paul picks up his mic to offer his take on the show, but an eery indefinable sound fills our ears instead. "Wow. That never happens, he says, alluding to the fact that we all heard it, we are all in a cemetery, and the Episode we just watched had his character hallucinating. I know what that feels like. Check out this picture! Am I hallucinating?!! I love it!
A common energy of peer admiration among actors plays out now. Aaron had been sent the script, knowing Michelle was attached to the project. He read the first two episodes on his phone, such is the way of our digital life, sharing that the creators, (Creator, Jessica Goldberg and Jason Katims, Executive Producer/Writer) had a unique vision and this, along with Monaghan's involvement was something he'd also responded to.
With a surprising English accent (you don't hear it in the show), Hugh Dancy jokes that his show (Hannibal) had just been cancelled, so he was hired last. He reflects that "... on examination, all the characters, no matter how nefarious they are ... the love triangle, it was about the struggle for faith. That was the focus. That was going to last us for as long as we can keep going." And of course, having Monaghan and Aaron Paul attached to the show was a draw. More mutual actor-love-spreading now. See what I mean?
"... a body buried, a baby born, and a ghost on an episode is good television."
Goldberg wrote the first two scripts without the religion figured out. Dancy offers, "That's how it usually goes with religion." Jessica tells us that writing it was a process. She got with a friend to put in all of the things they wanted in the religion. Meyerism - no it's not about the love of those lemons - she actually created a bible of the religion and the movement.
With so much programming vying for viewership, it's remarkable that The Path went straight to a series order with Hulu. The creative team was given a tremendous amount of time, offering that it was a unique experience to have months to figure it out before they started shooting. With that time luxury, they were even able to go back and reexamine earlier episodes.
Aaron Paul jumps in, "People want to join the movement and it's great!" He recalls shooting in NYC, where there were detailed (prop) pamphlets left on tables. Passersby picked them up. Some, after reading the printed passages, wanted to join ... 14 people put their names on a list! "People are all looking for answers. That's why there are so many movements, right?"
Monaghan feels sorry for her character, because she doesn't understand herself outside of her faith. She loves that they (the movement) are taking in lost souls. "The show taps into the fact that we're all really lost souls."
At this hour, 9:55PM, the air is chilly here in the cemetery and the damp feels as if it's oozing up from below into my bones. Having experienced this location's particular discomfort before, I rug up with the extra blanket I brought. The moderator brings my focus back to the paney, turning to Hugh, "It must have been difficult to play your character." Without missing a beat, Hugh replies, "Yes, it was really difficult. No, I'm just kidding." The crowd laughs at his deadpan ambiguity, but I believe he was serious about the challenges of portraying his multi-layered character!
When the panel is asked about their favorite scenes, Dancy begins by telling us that he recalls watching Aaron and Michelle's scene of transgression ... "Oh, OK, that's that whole world ... it made the show more three dimensional as well." Aaron Paul agrees, "I'm gonna go with that one as well. That was really a great fucking scene." (Intentional double entendre, Aaron?) Monaghan then gives a nod to the music used in the show and how it helps her with her character. Goldberg adds that she loves EP 9, "... a body buried, a baby born, and a ghost on an episode is good television." Aaron Paul mentions and solicits applause for Kyle Allen, telling us to watch out for this talented guy.
Season 2 has been picked up and hits January 2017. We saw the Season 1 finale tonight, one week before the airdate.
Dancy sums up Hulu's pick-up, "Yeah, so Hulu takes a very calculated attack on religion." And that Dancy can be as slippery as his character, because I was unable to get a shot of him in focus! But I did put this together this awesome slideshow to share!
A SLIDESHOW OF THE PATH
This was one of my top FYC event picks this season. It was an experiential journey on every level, and not only for FYC attendees. There was a fun photo booth set up in an old VW bus on the public side of the party, so they could have some fun. And Aaron Paul was out near the fence, greeting fans with those baby blues and that winning smile for photos, taking the initiative by holding the phones and cameras himself. Good celeb trick that one. It allows one to move through the crowd much more quickly and more fans to get the photos they're hoping for!
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