May 3, 2000
HBO acquires 'Melvin' docu

    HBO has acquired the domestic broadcast rights to the feature-length documentary "Just, Melvin," filmmaker James Ronald Whitney's study of a family's history of sexual molestation.

The acquisition price was not available, and no broadcast date has been set for "Melvin," which focuses on Whitney's grandfather, Melvin Just, a man who sexually abused about a dozen women in his family.

James Ronald Whitney, who wrote, produced and co-edited "Melvin" and made his directorial debut with the film, said it should serve as a "wake-up call to society."

"Melvin" screened at Sundance 2000 and was awarded best documentary feature at this year's Santa Barbara (Calif.) International Film Festival and the Newport Beach (Calif.) Film Festival.

Whitney is working on a documentary about Sharon Alt, an amateur porn star who conceived a son while married to another woman.

HBO original programming division executives Sheila Nevins and Nancy Abraham represented the cabler in the deal.
                                                                                    -- Chris Gennusa

March 13, 2000

    ...Film producer Renee Missel's third go-around as Santa Barbara's artistic director featured a broad selection of independents, foreign films, documentaries, seminars and several popular on-stage tributes and retrospective screenings at Santa Barbara's vintage movie palaces the Granada and Arlington...
    The live events honoring Richard Pryor, Anthony Hopkins, Whoopi Goldberg and Ivan Reitman were high points for the perennially star struck locals, although the festival located in such rich showbiz haunts as the Santa Barbara area still struggles to bring out the stars. Still, joining the very emotional event for the wheelchair-bound Pryor was Lily Tomlin, while Jodie Foster was on hand for Hopkin's acceptance of the fest's Modern Master Award, which was presented by Edward Norton.
    The official jury and audience awards were handed out Sunday evening before the screening of the closing-night film, New Line's "The Price of Glory," with star Jimmy Smits and filmmaker Carlos Avila in attendance. Two separate juries--one for features, the other for documentaries and shorts--gave out 12 Awards.
    In addition to winning the Independent Voice Award for a U.S. or Canadian feature with no distribution, "Post Mortem"--the debut of Montreal-based writer-director Louis Belanger--also won the IFILM.com Special Jury Prize for Artistic Merit, which includes $4,000 in cash...The Insight Award for best documentary feature went to James Ronald Whitney's "Just, Melvin."
                                                        -- David Hunter

Thursday, March 22, 2001

Eccentricity and fierce individualism dominate this year's documentary nominees...at the Independent Spirit Awards...Melvin Just's story, as told in "Just, Melvin" has a decidedly personal and sinister bent to it. The film made by moonlighting Wall Street broker (and Just's grandson) James Ronald Whitney, is a disturbing, sublimely told tale of abuse and incest perpetrated by Just upon two generations of the filmmaker's own family and their struggle to heal deep, emotional wounds.

This year's Truer Than Fiction Award winner will join an impressive group of past honorees that includes: Leon Gast ("When We Were Kings"), Danielle Garnder ("Soul in the Hole"), Errol Morris ("Fast, Cheap & Out of Control"), Barbara Sonneborn ("Regret to Inform") and Owsley Brown III ("Night Waltz: The Music of Paul Bowles"). Brown won the award in 2000.

DIRECTOR'S FILMS: GAMES PEOPLE PLAY: New York, GAMES PEOPLE PLAY: Hollywood, Telling Nicholas, Just, Melvin, TheWorkingGirl.com
Find out more about James Ronald Whitney's Productions at the Fire Island Films website
: www.FIFproductions.com
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© 2003 James Ronald Whitney