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Review: DEAD PILOTS SOCIETY Offers Look at TV Pilots That Never Aired

Every year, Hollywood studios spend millions upon millions of dollars on TV pilots, the "test shows" that networks order before deciding which shows should become full-fledged series or wind up being locked away in a vault never to be seen again. For every pilot that eventually airs, there are three that never will see daylight, even though there are thousands of hopeful writers, directors and actors in our town that work around-the-clock during "pilot season," hoping their work will be picked up and make them a lot of money as a hit TV series.

Thankfully Jake O'Flaherty and Bryan Rasmussen decided to produce DEAD PILOTS SOCIETY as a stage show composed of three NEW unaired TV pilots performed by an exciting lineup of 21 TV and Film actors, each piece written by Emmy award winning writers. The show plays at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks on Monday nights at 8pm through May 23. And it's a great chance to laugh at these clever situation comedy pilots that somehow never made it to "the big show."

"DELERIA" was written and directed by Russ Woody with co-director Danny Ramirez. It takes us on a journey with Bob Butterfield (Larry Poindexter) who was happy to leave DeLiria, Minnesota behind for good after high school. "There's something wrong with that place," he tells his wife Sandy (Keri Safran) - a prophecy that plays out in a combination of "Twin Peaks" and "Fargo" characters he meets during his return to attend his 50th reunion. Arriving right after some peculiar weather sweeps through town, everything changes and Bob realizes he is DeLiria's only hope, thanks to being mistakenly identified as a hometown hero. There are several talented actors who each bring their quirky characters to hysterical life including Bill Chott as Mayor Schmalen, Bill Glass as Pastor Gaddy, Andrew Lamond as Eddie Thorne, Paul Lauden and Aaron Stall as the Bureaucrats, Robert Peters as Sheriff Norte who appears to have more serious cases to investigate than you work think, the lovely Deborah Zoe as Victoria, the town's brunette bombshell, and Joe Sachem, an Apache who plays the silent Chief Dying Tall Grass and merely walks into scenes and stands around observing his crazy neighbors. Just what is his purpose in town? Unfortunately, we will never get to know. A word of warning to the actors - please pick up any props dropped on the stage as soon as possible so they do not distract the audience from watching the show, as a dropped white hanger on the black stage did for almost half the show on the night I was there.

"GUY GARFIELD: AVENGING ANGEL" written by Bob Colleary and directed by Jerry Kernion, introduces us to Guy Garfield (Grinnell Morris) who in real life is a jerk who plays an angel on TV. Enter Nancii (Aly French), a star-struck innocent from the Midwest who has moved to Hollywood to pursue her dreams. In her mind, answered fan letters sent to Guy have offered her encouragement and promises of his assistance in finding her a job when she arrives. But as it turns out, Guy may or may not remember ever corresponding with her in the first place! But in a town where who you appear to be is more important than who you actually are, both have surprises in store. Other actors include Matt Gardner as Michael, Carolyn Hennesy who performs a real star turn as Jen, the bitchy producer of Gary's TV show. Erin Murphy as Sarah, and Jack Zullo as Bob.

"THE HOLE" written by David Misch and directed by Moosie Drier, centers on a liberal family as they try to navigate the wealth and privilege of Santa Monica. Unfortunately, there is a large hole at the end of their property where a pool will soon be built once enough concrete can be found. The family lets us see their wobbly moral compass, sharing, "How rich are we, daddy?" "Richer than almost everyone in the world. Poorer than almost everyone we know." This breezy comedy stars Susan Angelo as Wendy, Dan Gilvezan as Jim, and 13-year-old Alexis Jayde Burnett as their social climbing daughter Larissa. Also featured are Troy Metcalf as Boyle, Tom Schanley as Cliff, and Judy Tenuta as Shannon.

DEAD PILOTS SOCIETY will keep you laughing out loud and waiting for the next unexpected turn of events, of which there are too many to count! It will make you wonder why these 3 clever pilots were never greenlighted.

Performances continue on Monday nights at the Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd. Sherman Oaks, CA 91423, Monday nights at 8pm through May 23. Tickets are $20 available at brownpapertickets.com or at the door. Running Time: 100 minutes Website: whitefiretheatre.com or 818-990-2324. Please park carefully in the area. Valet available at Boneyard Bistro (across the street) at 13539 Ventura Blvd. for $6.00

Photos courtesy of Jake O'Flaherty

Dan Gilvezan, Troy Metcalf, Tom Schanley, Susan Angelo in THE HOLE

Jack Zullo, Aly French, Matt Gardner in GUY GARFIELD:AVENGING ANGEL.

Larry Poindexter, Bill Chott in "DELIRIA"

Grinnell Morris, Carolyn Hennesy in GUY GARFIELD:AVENGING ANGEL.

Erin Murphy, Grinnell Morris in GUY GARFIELD:AVENGING ANGEL.

Tom Schanley, Susan Angelo, Jake O'Flaherty in THE HOLE




From This Author - Shari Barrett

Shari Barrett, a Los Angeles native, has been active in the theater world since the age of six - acting, singing, and dancing her way across the boards all over town. After teaching in secondary schools,... (read more about this author)


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