Sunday, November 13, 2011


(Elaine Lockley Smith, Michael Spears, Lenore Andriel, Steve Doucette, Joanelle Romero)

Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor – Michael Spears, and Best Director – Nick Vallelonga were won by YELLOW ROCK, a small-budget independent Western with tons of heart, at Monday’s Red Nation Film Festival Awards Ceremony. Appropriately, the awards were presented at CBS Studios, once the home of Republic Pictures, a hub of production for films about, and starring, American Indians. 

(Peter Sherayko, Ardeshir Radpour)

The Festival began the previous Tuesday, November 1st, with the premier screening of YELLOW ROCK at the Peltz Theater at the Simon Wiesenthal Center.  There by the red carpet I ran into Peter and Susan Sherayko – in addition to acting in the film, Peter supplied the props, guns, saddles, horses and costumes.  He’d spent the day working with Christian Ramirez on a pseudo-Western project, this one starring Charlie Sheen.  “It’s called A GLIMPSE INSIDE THE MIND OF CHARLES SWAN III.  It’s a modern movie, and today Chris and I went down and set up an Indian village for a dream sequence.  I don’t what the film’s about, I haven’t read the script, but it’s Charlie Sheen, so it’s going to be fun.” 

(Katarina, Christian & Cory Ramirez and Katarina'a sister)

Among the other YELLOW ROCK cast and crew members attending were line producer T.A. Williams and his wife, art director Christian Ramirez and his wife Katarina, prop man Cory Ramirez, writer/producer/star Lenore Andriel, writer/producer Steve Doucette, producer and Melody Ranch top hand Daniel Veluzat, actress and associate producer Amy Jennings, actress and associate producer Elaine Lockley-Smith, wrangler and actor Ardeshir Radpour, and actors Eddie and Michael Spears, Zahn McClarnon, Clay Wilcox, Joseph Billingiere, Rick Mora and Sam Bearclaw. 

(Michael and Eddie Spears)

After all the red-carpet posing, everyone moved into the beautiful Peltz Theater, and the screening began.  I can’t pretend to be an impartial observer of YELLOW ROCK – I was on the set, got to know a lot of the cast and crew (I’d already known James Russo since we were high school kids working together on student films), and have been following along all through post-production – so I’d looked forward to this screening with great anticipation.  And I was not disappointed in the least. 

(Ric Mora, Zahn McClarnon, Michael Spears)

After the screening, Joanelle Romero, actress, and founder and president of the Red Nation Film Festival, brought cast and crew onstage for a Q&A.  Joanelle asked Lenore what the inspiration for YELLOW ROCK was.  “Steve and I were doing research, and we found that in California there were so many small bands of Native Americans who had lived here, and once the Gold Rush happened, they were just driven off, and there is no history of them, and we will never know who they were.  And the more were learned, the more we thought this story hasn’t been told enough.  So we fictionalized the Black Paw tribe – there was no Black Paw tribe.  But what we wanted to do was make it emblematic of the many that died.” 

(Clay Wilcox)

Steve Doucette added, “What’s going on with corporate greed in this country – you still see these things going on with American Indians today: people are still after the mineral rights on their land.  So we hope that our story will remind people that this is still going on.”   

(Daniel Veluzat being interviewed)

Things can move quickly in the film business – the crew is just back from San Francisco, screening YELLOW ROCK at the American Indian Film Festival on Friday.  I’ll keep you up-to-date on the film’s progress, and will have the names of the rest of the Red Nation Film Festival award winners next week.

(Amy Jennings and her family)

(On the way to the screening)

Film Review:  YELLOW ROCK

When Max Detreich (James Russo) and his ominous entourage (Christopher Backus, Peter Sherayko, Clay Wilcox and Brian Gleason) come to town, it’s assumed they’re up to no good.  But he claims they’re on an errand of mercy.  His brother and nephew went trapping around Falcon’s Peak, and never returned.  To find them, he approaches Tom Hanner (Michael Biehn).  Once a lawman, he lost his wife, then his son, and now he’s lost himself in a bottle.  Maybe he can help them find the missing two, and pull himself out of his own quagmire. 

Knowing they’ll have to enter territory of the Black Paw tribe, Hanner enlists the aid of Sarah Taylor (Lenore Andriel), a doctor who is one of the only whites the Black Paws trust.  Dr. Sarah meets with the Chief (Joseph Billingiere) who reluctantly allows the search party on their land, with strict limitations on where they can go, and what they can do.  Dr. Sarah accompanies the search party onto Black Paw ground, and things go rapidly to Hell in a hand basket.  

YELLOW ROCK is a small gem, with a powerful and evocative score by Randy Miller, and often stunningly beautiful photography by Ricardo Jacques Gale.  Forgive me for sounding perverse, but a scene near the end, in a field, is one of the most strikingly beautiful killings of a man that I recall seeing on film. 

And yes, there is plenty of killing – not in an ‘over-kill’ sense -- but the lead flies fast and heavy at times, and Jon Vasquez’s editing makes the most of it, never letting you lose track of who shot at who, who missed and who hit.

The performances are strong, among the more familiar performers and those that may be new to you.  Lenore Andriel is convincing as Dr. Sarah right out of the gate when she must calmly treat a wounded Indian boy with hysteria and panic all around her.  Amy Jennings is effective as her assistant who has no use for Detreich and his men.   As Detreich, James Russo embodies the man who, right or wrong, you do not want to cross.  Michael Biehn is startlingly convincing as the dissipated lawman trying to rise to the occasion.  Among the man Indian actors, Eddie and Michael Spears are effectively used as brothers on opposite sides on the treatment of the white men.  Zahn McLarnon is a stand-out in the role of translator between whites and Black Paws: it’s one of the very few times where you absolutely believe that someone is groping with converting ideas from one language to another.

Admittedly, no movie is perfect.  There is, for instance, a scene with wolves that is beautiful but too long.  Sometimes it seems that characters are taking a long time to grasp a situation that is obvious to the audience.  And I sure thought that a character who was killed early on got killed a second time later on.  But these are minor complaints.  Overall the story is logical and strong, the dialogue always workmanlike-to-crisp, and the characters draw you in.  This is a movie with a lot of heart, about the collision of the white and the red man, and while it toys with the mystical, it never gets sappy about it.


TEMPLE HOUSTON ran for just one season, just 26 episodes, in 1963, and it was very enjoyable – I remember it fondly, nearly fifty years after its brief run.  Starring Jeffrey Hunter and Jack Elam, it was modeled on the son of Sam Houston, who was a very prominent and successful Wild West attorney.  This book by Glenn A. Mosley is subtitled, ‘A Story of Network Television,’ and it is that as much as it is the story of one series and one actor.  It is a story of what goes wrong in television, why it goes wrong, and its implications and lessons reach far beyond the one show.  It’s a cautionary tale that anyone looking to work in television, especially in the writing and producing end, should read.

To begin with, someone has a smart idea: create a Western law series about a real lawyer, Temple Houston.  Base the plots on his real cases.  A studio, in this case Warner Brothers Television, decides to develop it.  Their first move?  Throw out everything they liked about it in the first place: the real cases, and the real personality of Temple Houston the man.   Next step?  Supposedly base the plot on the Philip Lonergan story ‘Galahad of Cactus Spring.’  Why?  Because they already owned that story – they had since the silent days! – and thus they wouldn’t have to give the new writer a ‘Created By’ credit, which would get him payment for every episode thereafter. 

Warner Brothers Television was in a tough way in 1963.  Once the king of TV Westerns with MAVERICK, CHEYENNE, SUGARFOOT, BRONCO and LAWMAN, those shows were mostly gone.  Warner Television had a new President, DRAGNET creator and star Jack Webb, and he was determined to re-dominate prime-time TV.  His first series to be scheduled was THE ROBERT TAYLOR SHOW, with Taylor starring as a special assistant to the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare.  When the network got a hint that some of the stories would cast a jaundiced eye on some of their sponsors, cigarette makers among them, they pulled the plug, and the TEMPLE HOUSTON folks, just starting to develop the series, were told they were going on the air in a matter of weeks, to fill the ROBERT TAYLOR spot. 

In a way, they never recovered, and the book tells of all the various approaches the producers and writers tried, from serious and lawyerly to broadly comic.  The book also tells about the career of Jeffrey Hunter, a talented actor and a favorite of John Ford – he has a great role in THE SEARCHERS – who some believe was a victim of the ‘Jesus curse’ after starring in KING OF KINGS.  Many actors believe it’s fatal bad luck, career-wise, to play Jesus, and Hunter certainly joined the long list of actors whose career went downhill after that role. 

Sadly, it’s not currently possible to take a new look at the series.  It’s not available on any format, except for the 54 minute pilot, which was released theatrically as THE MAN FROM GALVESTON.  That’s available from the Warner Archive.

The book, entertainingly written, is exhaustively researched, but must, like its short-lived subject, be brief.  It’s only 139 pages long, counting the index, and one does sense a bit of padding – it not only includes descriptions of all TEMPLE HOUSTON episodes, and unwritten episodes for the second season that never happened, it also includes a list of unrealized Jeffery Hunter projects, and an episode guide to the ROBERT TAYLOR SHOW, none of which ever aired.  On the other hand, when you finish the book, I seriously doubt you’ll have any lingering unanswered questions about TEMPLE HOUSTON.  And you may have new insights into how television works, and how remarkable it is that anything half-way good ever gets on the air.  JEFFREY HUNTER AND TEMPLE HOUSTON is $14.95 from Bear Manor Media, at, which also published Glenn A. Mosley’s earlier book, HENRY FONDA AND THE DEPUTY: THE FILM AND STAGE STAR AND HIS TV WESTERN. 


As regular Round-up Rounders know, Morgan Kane, sometime lawman and sometime scoundrel, is the star character of the most popular Western series to ever come out of Norway.  WR Films has acquired to rights to all 80 plus novels by Louis Masterson, in conjunction with their upcoming movie MORGAN KANE: THE LEGEND BEGINS, and are releasing them as e-books, to help familiarize the English-speaking world with Kane.  They’ll be releasing a new one every few weeks.
The first two books, EL GRINGO and EL GRINGO’S REVENGE, which together serve as the basis for the first movie – there are at least three movies planned -- have been available online for a few weeks, and now the 3rd book in the series, WITHOUT MERCY, just hit the books-stalls, electronically speaking, this week. You can check it out at Amazon here :, and at I-Tunes here:


CBS is developing a remake of the classic Chuck Connors, Johnny Crawford, Paul Fix series, scripted by Laeta Kalogridist, who co-produced AVATAR and wrote SHUTTER ISLAND, and Patrick Lussier, who has written three Dracula movies and DRIVE ANGRY, to be directed by 'Harry Potter' helmer Chris Columbus.

The folks at contacted singer and band-leader Johnny Crawford to see what he thought of the idea.  He thought it was, “intriguing,” and added, “I would love to be involved as an actor, director or music supervisor. I’ve always loved Westerns and I loved working on the original series.  It was a great childhood.”  Chuck Connors and Johnny Crawford remained close after the end of the RIFLEMAN run, and worked together on BRANDED, PARADISE, and THE GAMBLER RETURNS: THE LUCK OF THE DRAW. 

I don’t know about you, but after so many years of nothing new, I’m delighted to have a new weekly Western to look forward to. If you missed episode #1, you can see it here:


Next weekend, November 18th through the 20th, will be the final performances of 'CHAPS'.  Described as ‘Monty Python Meets The Old West,’ CHAPS, by Jahnna Beecham and Malcolm Hillgartner is set in 1944 London, during the War and the Blitz.  When America's favorite singing cowboy Tex Riley and his troupe are late for a special broadcast at the BBC, Mabel the tour manager and Miles the frantic young producer grab a snobby announcer, an agreeable sound man and a soap opera actor, slap them into costume, hand them scripts (after all, it's radio!) and shove them in front of the studio audience. The resulting performance is one England will never forget. 

I just came from the Sunday matinee, and had a great time -- the show is delightfuly goofy and the cast is exuberant and vocally gifted -- and a good thing, because there are more than twenty songs, including many Gene Autry and Sons of the Pioneers favorites, all beautifully backed up by the 'Tex Riley Radio Round-up Orchestra.'

Presented by ELATE (Emmanuel Lutheran Actor's Theater Ensemble), the play will be presented Friday and Saturday nights at 8 pm, with a Sunday matinee at 2 pm,  at the Lincoln Stegman Theater, 6020 Radford, North Hollywood, CA 91606.  Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and kids under 13, and Goldstar members can do a little better.  Call 818-509-0882 for tickets.


Built by cowboy actor, singer, baseball and TV entrepeneur Gene Autry, and designed by the Disney Imagineering team, the Autry is a world-class museum housing a fascinating collection of items related to the fact, fiction, film, history and art of the American West. In addition to their permenant galleries (to which new items are frequently added), they have temporary shows. The Autry has many special programs every week -- sometimes several in a day. To check their daily calendar, CLICK HERE. And they always have gold panning for kids every weekend. For directions, hours, admission prices, and all other information, CLICK HERE.


Across the street from the Hollywood Bowl, this building, once the headquarters of Lasky-Famous Players (later Paramount Pictures) was the original DeMille Barn, where Cecil B. DeMille made the first Hollywood western, The Squaw Man. They have a permanent display of movie props, documents and other items related to early, especially silent, film production. They also have occasional special programs. 2100 Highland Ave., L.A. CA 323-874-2276. Thursday – Sunday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. $5 for adults, $3 for senior, $1 for children.


This small but entertaining museum gives a detailed history of Wells Fargo when the name suggested stage-coaches rather than ATMS. There’s a historically accurate reproduction of an agent’s office, an original Concord Coach, and other historical displays. Open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. Admission is free. 213-253-7166. 333 S. Grand Street, L.A. CA.


A staggering number of western TV episodes and movies are available, entirely free, for viewing on your computer at HULU. You do have to sit through the commercials, but that seems like a small price to pay. The series available -- often several entire seasons to choose from -- include THE RIFLEMAN, THE CISCO KID, THE LONE RANGER, BAT MASTERSON, THE BIG VALLEY, ALIAS SMITH AND JONES, and one I missed from 2003 called PEACEMAKERS starring Tom Berenger. Because they are linked up with the TV LAND website, you can also see BONANZA and GUNSMOKE episodes, but only the ones that are running on the network that week.

The features include a dozen Zane Grey adaptations, and many or most of the others are public domain features. To visit HULU on their western page, CLICK HERE.


Every weekday, TV LAND airs a three-hour block of BONANZA episodes from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. They've stopped running GUNSMOKE.  INSP is showing THE BIG VALLEY every weekday at noon, one p.m. and nine p.m., and Saturdays at 6 p.m., and have just added DR. QUINN, MEDICINE WOMAN to their schedule.


Check out your cable system for WHT, which stands for World Harvest Television. It's a religious network that runs a lot of good western programming. Your times may vary, depending on where you live, but weekdays in Los Angeles they run DANIEL BOONE at 1:00 p.m., and two episodes of THE RIFLEMAN from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.. On Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. it's THE RIFLEMAN again, followed at 2:30 by BAT MASTERSON. And unlike many stations in the re-run business, they run the shows in the original airing order. There's an afternoon movie on weekdays at noon, often a western, and they show western films on the weekend, but the schedule is sporadic. 

AMC has been airing a block of THE RIFLEMAN episodes early Saturday mornings, usually followed by Western features.

And RFD-TV is currently showing THE ROY ROGERS SHOW at 9:30 Sunday morning, repeated several times a week, and a Roy feature as well -- check your local listings.

I guess that's enough for now.  Next week I'll have coverage of the JOHN WAYNE TRIBUTE at the Arclight Cinerama Dome, which included family members, Kim Darby, Earl Holliman, Christopher Mitchum, and a video message from Glen Campbell.
Happy Trails,


All original content copyright November 2011 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved


  1. So Johnny Crawford says the idea of a Rifleman remake is “intriguing". Well, besides everything else that is awesome about Johnny Crawford, we can now add that he is a great diplomat.

  2. I guess the Rifleman reboot didn't happen. It's April of 2016 and I haven't heard anything about it. That stinks.

    1. Steven Gardner, the manager and General counsel for LGL, and son of the late Arthur Gardner, told me that CBS had optioned the rights for a remake, and a script had been written, but the option was abandoned by CBS. Sorry!