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"Jam" Makes Los Angeles Debut at 2006 Hollywood Film Festival

By M D Caprario

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While stuck in traffic several years ago in upstate New York, Emmy-nominated writer-director Craig Serling and writing partner Nicole Lonner got an idea for a film.  That film, "Jam," made its Los Angeles debut recently at the Hollywood Film Festival, screened at the Arclight Theater. 

Actress Amanda Detmer poses with film's promotional poster

"Jam" presents stories of revelation and personal growth that come after a traffic accident on a sweltering hot day.  With their cars "jammed" along a rural two-lane road for several hours, the characters are forced to confront and come to terms with issues that have been bubbing within them for a long time.

A father and son negotiate their tumultuous history together, a heterosexual couple deals with the husband's obsession with having a child and the wife's reticence to bring anything else into their already over-committed lives, a divorced father examines his feeilngs about being a parent and an ex-husband, a bride-to-be fully examines her longing to nab a husband who will be a good father- even if he might only be a so-so husband, and a lesbian couple must defend their ability- and right- to be both a mother and a "father."

Writer-director Craig Serling and actress Amanda Detmer handle Q&A at the Arclight screening

William Forsythe is well cast as the tough, gruff dad with a tragic secret and a fragile heart.  His seesaw of emotions while trying to communicate with his son during a time that could be his last opportunity is believable and touching.  Elegant Marianne Jean-Baptiste ("Secrets and Lies") shines as she intervenes between Forsythe's character and his son.  Jean-Baptiste as a thoughtful, feminine "Yoda" is brilliant; the gentle nature of both character and actor is solid and well-appreciated in this story.

Actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan in action

Jeffrey Dean Morgan- who delighted in his role as devil-may-care heart transplant patient and love interest on ABC's "Grey's Anatomy"- surprises as a tender, wonderfully flawed father who loves his kids, but fumbles to do whatever seems best for them.  The actor has an amazing following; one loyal fan, Jennifer Stoll, drove all the way from the Bay Area just for this screening.  (Stoll manages a fan web site:  www.jeffreydeanmorganfans.com.)

Bay Area Jeffrey Dean Morgan fan Jeffnifer Stoll with Craig Serling

Jonathan Silverman has big fun with his role as the would-be father who will do anything to get his wife warmed to the idea of having a child- even risking running out of gasoline in order to keep the AC going to keep her cool.

Amanda Foreman ("Happy Endings") endears as the young bride who, once stuck in a car with her two bridal attendants, begins to question whether her plan of marriage and parenthood is all that great.
Strong performance by Alex Rocco as a successful long-time married man, who sets an example for the younger, divorced dad.

The origin of "Jam" is a great industry story.  The idea was first presented to the public in 2003 as a short.  The short had such a successful run when screened at various film festivals that actors flocked to Serling asking to take part in his vision for the full-length film.  The feature was shot in an amazing 15 days' time.  (More on this later.)  Jeff Venditti was behind the Super 16 mm camera, and Burnett Entertainment ("Survivor") was behind the production in association with Serling's Thanksgiving Films, a Santa Monica, California shop.

The world-famous Arclight marquee

Photo of Jeffrey Dean Morgan courtesy of Thanksgiving Films

All other photos and text copyright 2006 M D Caprario

JAM Cast and Crew
Christopher Amitrano
Elizabeth Bogush
Dan Byrd
Julie Claire
David DeLuise
Amanda Detmer
Amanda Foreman
William Forsythe
Tess Harper
Marianne Jean Baptiste
Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Marih O'Brien
Alex Rocco
Jonathan Silverman
Gina Torres

Director/Writer: Craig Serling

Producer: Dianne Burnett

Cinematographer: Jim Denault ('Nadia,' 'Boys Don't Cry,' 'Maria Full of Grace,' and 'Real Women Have Curves;' 'Six Feet Under')

Editor: Steve Rasch ('Curb Your Enthusiasm,' 'Entourage,' 'Andy,' 'Odd Man Out,' 'Spin City'

Co-Writer: Nicole Lonner

Executive Consultant: Abe Glaze ('What's Cooking,' 'Asalto en Tijuana')


Published on Dec 31, 1969

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