Wednesday, May 3, 2000
HBO Signs Deal With "Just, Melvin"

(indieWIRE/05.03.00) -- HBO announced yesterday that they have acquired the exclusive U.S. broadcast rights to James Ronald Whitney's documentary "Just Melvin," which premiered at this years Sundance Film Festival. The film, which chronicle's the generations of abuse in one family, has won three first place prizes at film festivals including Santa Barbara, Newport, and South Beach and was a runner-up at the South by Southwest Film Festival.

The deal was struck by Whitney and HBO's, Sheila Nevins and Nancy Abraham, who said of the deal, "We're excited about working with [James Ronald] Whitney to bring this unique and powerful documentary about the generational effects of evil to the widest possible audience on HBO."

Whitney is currently in production on his next film, 'Love, Sharon' (working title), about the life of Sharon Alt, who conceived a son while she was married to another woman and her foray into the amateur porn industry.
                                                                                    -- Maya Churi
March 20, 2000
Santa Barbara's Grand Ambitions, Out of Reach or Just in Sight?

As its artistic director and former film producer Ren╦e Missel says, "I want us to be a cross between Telluride and Sundance, a mini market and a festival where one can see terrific films, and be a meeting place for filmmakers.
...In addition to "Me & Isaac Newton" by Michael Apted and "Barenaked in America" by Jason Priestly, the documentary program included quite a few films just off the boat from Sundance, such as "Americanos! Latino Life in the United States" by Susan Todd and Andrew Young, "Legacy" by Tod Lending, "Long Night's Journey into Day" by Frances Reid and Deborah Hoffman, and "Scottsboro: An American Tragedy" by Barak Goodman and Daniel Anker, as well as James Ronald Whitney's brave "Just, Melvin" about the shocking cycles of child abuse, incest and depression in his own family, which won here the Body Shop's Insight Award for best documentary.
...Still, Santa Barbara guaranteed celebrity attendance by honoring a number of screen giants throughout the week. Sir Anthony Hopkins received the annual Modern Master Award. Hopkins chatted with Leonard Maltin, who showed clips of the actor's work in front of hundreds of fans, including Jodie Foster, who made the trip from LA for the occasion.
More touching still was Richard Pryor receiving the first annual Lifetime Achievement Award, as part of the festival's celebration of the art of comedy. Several comedians including Lily Tomlin honored the great funnyman... Other comedians recognized were Whoopi Goldberg with the Ruby Award and Ivan Reitman with a special tribute.
                                                        -- Andrea Meyer
March 31, 2000
SXSW Dispatch of Warm Filmmaker Friendly Fun

I was extremely excited to finally attend what I heard was on of the coolest and most filmmaker friendly festivals to ever exist. Austin, Texas has been a desired film fans' destination ever since Richard Linklater's "Slacker," but the South by Southwest Film Festival was giving me plenty of reasons to show up too... guess I was on a documentary jag, because next I saw a very disturbing and personal film "Just, Melvin" by James Ronald Whitney. I had heard a lot about the film from its Sundance premiere, but I was absolutely unprepared to see the devastating effects of generations of sexual abuse on a truly tortured family...A quick power dinner and then it was off to the Awards ceremony placed oddly in the middle of the film festival.
A few highlights of the evening...the hilarious Michael Moore presented the documentary prizes (first place went to "The Target Shoots First"). But when the "Roger and Me" director realized that the two runners up ("The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack" and "Just, Melvin") didn't get cash, he gave them each $5,000 towards their next production -- what a guy!
June 20, 2000
Seattle International Film Festival - Just, Melvin

Like most things in life, SIFF is not all bad. One move that amounted to a virtual coup this year was the local premiere of "Just, Melvin." This harrowing documentary about generations of sexual abuse in a northwestern family was recently picked up by HBO for its American Undercover documentary series. First-time director James Ronald Whitney created the disturbing film, the reality of which was brought home by the attendance of eight of the women who are the subjects of the film. The family arrived in a limo, greeted by a small clutch of photographers (the director wanted things low-key) and astounded the audience with their courage and directness. Since the film features graphic descriptions of sexual abuse, you can bet money it will never be rented from Blockbuster.
                                                        -- Cal Godot
October 11, 2000
Prizes for the 19th Vancouver International Film Festival were announced in two ceremonies, one on Thursday evening and the other at the closing gala on Saturday night at the Vogue Theatre... The $2,000 National Film Board Award for best documentary feature went to James Ronald Whitney's "Just, Melvin," a film about child abuse.
                                                        -- Jason Margolis and Maureen Prentice

Monday, March 4, 2002
HBO Acquires 9/11 Doc "Telling Nicholas"

indieWIRE/ 03.04.02 -- Continuing its support of documentary projects, HBO has acquired James Ronald Whitney's feature-length doc, "Telling Nicholas" the premium channel recently announced. The film, which will be broadcast as part of HBO's new season of "American Undercover Sundays" is described as "an incredible microscopic look at the effect and devastation of the Twin Towers tragedy on one American family." HBO Executive Vice President of Original Programming Sheila Nevins said in a prepared statement, "The film reveals, in intimate detail, the suffering of one family and one can only imagine the reverberation and effect on the thousands of American families effected by September 11."

"Telling Nicholas" is the story of a father who must deal with telling his son about his mother's death in the World Trade Center tragedy. "HBO's Sheila Nevins and Lisa Heller have been extremely supportive of this film," commented Whitney in a prepared statement. "With the tremendous popularity of HBO, I'm certain that the story of Nicholas and his mother will forever remind people of the devastation caused by the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center."

HBO acquired Whitney's 2001 Sundance premiere, "Just Melvin" last year. John Sloss brokered the U.S. broadcasting rights for "Nicholas." [Brian Brooks]

For more information on the film, visit:]

Monday, April 16, 2002

Tribeca Sets International Slate and Special Screenings

indieWIRE 04.16.02 -- Organizers of the Tribeca Film Festival have unveiled additional lineups for next month's inaugural event. Additional special screenings were also announced...Two studio pictures have been added to the lineup for the event as special Screenings: Warner Bros. "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood," and the new Christopher Nolan film, "Insomnia." Additionally, organizers announced that James Ronald Whitney's "Telling Nicholas" and Deborah Shaffer's "From the Ashes" will screen in the September 11 program and they also unveiled a selection of titles that will celebrate 10 years of the monthly First Look screening series.
                            -- Eugene Hernandez

HBO Announces First Frame by Frame Series in San Francisco
indieWIRE: 07.22.02

HBO announced its documentary series, Frame by Frame, will screen for the first time in San Francisco for the first time from August 5 - 12 at The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The series, which began in New York will hold its fifth annual event in Gotham this autumn.

Kicking off the event in the Bay Area featuring 26 documentary films are...James Ronald Whitney's "Telling Nicholas" as well as the much heralded "In Memoriam: New York City, 9/11/01." The film features clips and photos from 100+ New Yorkers and independent filmmakers.

Other highlights planned in this year's Frame by Frame are screenings of "Murder on a Sunday Morning," this year's Oscar-winner for best documentary feature...and Q & A with a host of award-winning filmmakers.
                            -- Brian Brooks

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