Actor Lymen Chen is on a role. Plus, other locals get into the Hollywood act, Wilmington's super turn as Metropolis, a well-known party band boogies with the Bushes, a cult writer chills in Rehoboth and more.
On a Role
Local actor Lyman Chen picks up the pace since appearing
in the Oscar-winning Scorsese film “The Departed.”
Moviegoers during the next few months will be seeing a lot more of Lyman Chen, a part-time Hollywood actor who lives in North Wilmington. This month, Chen will appear in two films: “Leaf,” a sports flick directed by Delawarean Tim Carr, and a comedy called “Made for Each Other.”
In August Chen wrapped production of M. Night Shyamalan’s, “The Happening,” starring Mark Wahlberg. The film hits theaters June 13. Chen admits that during
filming of “The Happening,” he was much more relaxed
than when he worked on “The Departed” with Jack Nicholson and director Martin Scorsese. “The Departed” won the 2006 Academy Award for best film.
“Up to that point, I had only done commercials, training videos and small, independent films,” Chen says. “To be standing next to Jack and have Marty directing was very unnerving. The best acting I’ve ever done was there—not the filming part, the part where I had to act like I knew what the hell I was doing.”
Chen—a married father of two who owns two local Re/Max franchises—may not act full time, but he intends to break the Asian stereotype. “Asian male roles were always so passive and meek, to the point of being emasculating,” he says. “If they weren’t doing Kung Fu, they were geeky, off-the-boat Asian characters.”
Chen would not likely be cast in such a role. “How many 6-foot, 220-pound Chinese guys do you know?” —Maria Hess
More Adventures in Tinseltown
Actors with First State connections keep Hollywood humming.
Coming to a big screen—or a small screen—near you.
Brandywine High grad Lee Garlington finished filming two episodes of the NBC drama “Medium” to air in June. In December Garlington will be seen in two films: as the wife of John Savage in “The Thacker Case” and the mom of a teenager in “Buddy Gilbert Comes Alive.” Garlington has worked steadily in TV and film, but her biggest disappointment came in 1989, when she was cast as “the girl” in the pilot for “Seinfeld,” but did not get the role of Elaine. “That’s about as big a heartbreak as you can have in show biz,” says Garlington. “But you either get over it or you give up. I got over it.”
Hockessin native Kevin Ruf doesn’t look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but he’s playing him on TV. Ruf, a comedian, actor and screenwriter, is working on a mocumentary called “The Days and Nights of Arnold S.,” and “PuDs,” a satirical show about public defenders. (Ruf is a practicing attorney in real life.) He also knows a bit about Ah-nold. “I got to know him personally because John Kennedy Jr. was a good friend of mine,” he says. Last season, Ruf played counselor Kenny Carlisle in the short-lived Comedy Central series “Halfway Home.”
Wilmington native Anthony Bosco appears in the fifth and final season of the HBO hit “The Wire.” Bosco, who plays a newspaper editor, will be featured in nine episodes. Other credits include “Jersey Girl,” a 2004 film starring Ben Affleck, and “Bottomfeeders,” a 2001 mocumentary about presidential campaigns.
Wilmington-born Bernie McInerney plays Father Joe in “Pistol Whipped,” a Steven Seagal action flick due out this month. Last year he appeared alongside Steve Carell in “Dan in Real Life.” Since the 1950s, McInerney has worked in television—both daytime and prime time—as well as film. Major credits include “The Natural” in 1984 and “The American President” in 1995.
Wilmington native George Maguire has three films in the can: “Opal,” a Cannes recipient this year, “Car Babies” with Ben Savage, and “Touching Home,” a baseball film starring Ed Harris. All three should be released soon. “The writers’ strike has really stopped all action,” says Maguire, who is up for a Gus Van Sant film starring Sean Penn. The character actor has not forgotten his roots. “It is amazing to recall 1962 and 1963 at Salesianum where it all began in the chorus of ‘Brigadoon’ and ‘Carousel,’” he says.
— Maria Hess
illustration by Clay Sisk
It Ain’t no Smallville
But could it be Metropolis? Thanks to Superman, Wilmington may have a secret identity...
Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…Wilmington?
It’s been 70 years since the Man of Steel and his fictional berg Metropolis first flew into pop culture history in Action Comics No. 1. And along with each Superman butt-kicking came speculation of the true identity of Metropolis—home of the Daily Planet and a town perpetually on the edge of disaster.
Most say Metropolis is modeled on Chicago. Plenty say New York. But a small, knowledgeable contingent of comic book experts says Metropolis is right here in Delaware.
Here’s proof: An official DC Comics role-playing game, released in the 1970s by Mayfair Games, came with an atlas that placed Metropolis in northern Delaware. In 1977, a column in a DC fanzine called “The Amazing World of DC Comics” corroborated the Delaware story.
Metropolis needs a multitude of non-specific surroundings in which Superman and the bad guys can interact, says Joe Murray, owner and manager of Captain Blue Hen Comics in Newark. Wilmington, he says, fits the bill with its dominant downtown skyline, tall buildings to smash, some major businesses and a coastline.
“For Metropolis, you need water, you need mountains nearby, farmland and the shadow of a bigger city that we never see,” he says.
Still, Murray isn’t altogether convinced. During a DC-Marvel Comics crossover series, Superman visits the “real” Marvel universe and notices a few differences.
“That leads me to believe Superman’s world isn’t the same as ours,” Murray says. “There might be some extra space that we don’t have. But that’s just me getting my nerd on.” —Matt Amis
Filmmaker Zach Rehnstrom is a native of Ellendale.
“The Lantern” Will Shine
Homegrown horror film to premiere in
As a teenager, Zach Rehnstrom’s career goals tilted toward comic books, rather than moving pictures. But a few college videography classes made Rehnstrom, 25, realize filmmaking might be his preferred line of work.
Delawareans will get their first glimpse of his talent with the premiere of his locally shot film “The Lantern,” on April 11 at the Milton Theatre in Milton.
“The Lantern” emerged from a ghost story that the Ellendale native heard as a child that told of a local train station that was haunted by the ghosts of victims from a long-ago railroad accident. Rehnstrom friend and writer Wayne Sisson took the nebulous tale and set it during the end of the Civil War, when a conductor eager to return home causes a boiler explosion on a Union troop train. A present-day college professor discovers a lantern from the train and is haunted by images that lead to a startling discovery.
Rehnstrom found the perfect spot for train station exterior shots in nearby Newark, Maryland, and shot train interiors on the Wilmington & Western Railroad in New Castle County. “What I was going for was a real ghost story—something that felt real and felt like something you could really experience.”
For more information, call 684-4900 or visit www.miltontheatre.org.
It could happen. Ask cult writing sensation Robert Gover.
It may not be Walden Pond, but Rehoboth Beach is a tranquil enough resting place for acclaimed cult novelist Robert Gover.
Gover, 79, was a fixture during the 1960s, when his sexually charged debut novel gained a captive audience worldwide.
“One Hundred Dollar Misunderstanding” became a hit in Europe when it was released in 1962. It eventually caught on in America, thanks to rave reviews in the New York Times and name-dropping by a young troubadour named Bob Dylan. The book peaked at No. 3 on the New York Times Best Sellers list.
A full-on reflection of ’60s radicalism and drug-fueled mayhem, the book bends and satirizes issues of race, religion, politics and sex. Its protagonists, a naive college kid named Jimmy and a black call girl named Kitty, devote a weekend to sex, drugs and racial profiling. Today, it maintains its status as a cult classic.
The novel gained Gover celebrity status among the literary elite. The list of his former buddies reads like a 1960s fantasy team: Dylan, Gore Vidal, Hunter S. Thompson, Jim Morrison and Norman Mailer. “Every day was a new adventure back then,” Gover says. “You never knew what to expect.”
Gover amassed an impressive catalog of taboo novels and short stories, some of which are highly sought after today. He and his wife moved to Rehoboth Beach in 1990 after life on the West Coast grew too hectic. His ninth novel, “On the Run with Dick and Jane,” was released last year by Hopewell Publishing. It revolves around a 12-year-old girl on the lam with a 63-year old divorcée.
Might Gover’s diverse portfolio soon have a Delaware chapter? “It would make a colorful setting for a story,” Gover says. “That much I’m sure of.” —Matt Amis
The members of Jellyroll strike a pose with the First Couple.
Partying with the Prez
Local party band Jellyroll lets it all hang out at the White House.
Even the most popular musical groups rarely receive the opportunity to inspire U.S. senators, Supreme Court justices and the president of the United States to shake their money makers.
So our own Jellyroll made certain to capitalize on its December gig at the White House, where it thumped the East Diplomatic Reception Room for close to three hours. Jellyroll, a regional dance band based in Philadelphia, had the politicos and power people dancing in the halls during the 2007 Congressional Ball—one of the most anticipated D.C. social events of the year.
“As someone said, it’s the one time all the senators and politicians get along,” says band leader Kurt Titchenell. “It was almost surreal being there.”
Jellyroll took part in a private photo op—one of 400 for the Bushes that day—then made itself at home, performing for 2½ hours without a break before the president asked the band to play for another 20 minutes. The band landed the job after First Twin Barbara Bush saw it play a wedding at Greenville Country Club.
As for the president’s moves, “He is a very elegant dancer,” Titchenell says. “As they say, you put your political affiliations aside. He’s a nice guy.” —Drew Ostroski
Clarification: Kurt Titchenell of Jellyroll says he is a proud Republican and would have no reason to set his political affiliations aside when it comes to President Bush. Titchenell says he was referring to how those at the party put politics aside in the name of having a good time. Titchenell adds that he thinks President Bush is a great guy.
In the final analysis of American history, New Castle may prove to be one of the country’s most important towns.
The Puritans and Pilgrims put New England on the map. Jamestown also gets props in early America. As a result, most students of our history usually look north or south.
But if they looked between the lines, they’d find a range of ethnic, racial and religious settlements that are similar to the modern population, says Liam Riordan, author of “Many Identities, One Nation: The Revolution and its Legacy in the Mid-Atlantic.”
“I think of the Mid-Atlantic area—and the Delaware Valley—as a helpful example for us, because the kinds of issues the settlers in the Mid-Atlantic faced are more similar to some of the pressing issues that we have today,” he says.
Riordan studied cultural diversity from 1770 to 1830 in three towns on the Delaware River: New Castle; Burlington, New Jersey; and Easton, Pennsylvania. Though similar in size, the towns were settled by different groups. Tiny New Castle proved to be a late 18th-century and early 19th-century melting pot. There was an active Anglican church, a Presbyterian church—largely Scotts-Irish—and an independent black church. Almost a third of New Castle’s population at the time was African American.
Riordan analyzed local folk art, clothing and music to show how cultural diversity changed in the three towns. He also studied architecture. Of the three towns featured in his book, he says, New Castle was the best preserved. —Pam George
The Academy Band is now well stocked with
trumpeters, as well as many other talented folks.
Music for the Ageless
Pro and amateur musicians swing into retirement with UD’s Academy Band.
At the University of Delaware Academy of Lifelong Learning, Academy Band has moved to the front of the class.
The band, an extracurricular activity, has grown from 14 members to more than 80 under first conductor and course creator George Roewe over the past decade.
“Many had active careers and busy lives and are now into another stage, so why not try something that you’ve always wanted to?” says band president Bob Faatz, 68. “There are people who picked up an instrument for the first time at the time of retirement.”
New learners, especially, get a unique opportunity: to practice with accomplished musicians and to perform live, says director Basil Maas. And the band gets gigs. Venues include the UD, nursing homes, and retirement communities around Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania.
“They didn’t have a trumpet player in that group until a 78-year-old woman who was a music educator decided to pick up the trumpet,” says Faatz. That woman, Martha Newlon, created a monster—so many trumpeters joined the band, she was forced to switch to euphonium.