LADY IN WHITE PRODUCTION INFORMATION
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Lady in White Production Information
Behind The Scenes
Backyard Shooting And Ghost Country, Too
New Sky Communications: The Entrepreneurial Spirit Lives On
About The Players
About the filmmakers
Andrew G. La Marca
LADY IN WHITE
Written and Directed by FRANK LALOGGIA
Produced by ANDREW G. LA MARCA and FRANK LALOGGIA
Executive Producers CHARLES M. LALOGGIA and CLIFF PAYNE
Director of Photography RUSSELL CARPENTER
Editor STEVE MANN
Production Designer RICHARD K, HUMMEL
Costume Designer JACQUELINE SAINT ANNE
Casting by LYNN STALMASTER & ASSOCIATES -- MALI FINN
Visual Effects Supervisors ERNEST D. FARING and GENE WARREN, JR.
Distributed by Babe's In L.A
Frankie - Lukas Haas
Phil - Len Cariou
Angelo - Alex Rocco
Amanda - Katherine Helmond
Geno - Jason Presson
Mama Assunta - Renata Vanni
Papa Charlie - Angelo Bertolini
Melissa - Joelle Jacobi
Donald - Jared Rushton
Louie - Gregory Levinson
Miss La Della - Lucy Lee Flippin
Sheriff Saunders - Tom Bower
Tony - Jack Andreozzi
Mr. Lowry - Sydney Lassick
Mrs. Cilak - Rita Zohar
Mr. Cilak - Hal Bokar
Matty Williams - Rose Weaver
Harold Williams - Henry Harris
Cabbie - Bruce Kirby
Marianna - Emily Tracy
Lady in White - Karen Powell
Mary Ellen - Lisa Taylor
Father Brennan - Jack Holland
Reporter - Daniel Rojo
Cameraman - Gregory L. Everage
The year is 1962. The town is Willowpoint Falls, a sunny slice of Americana where no harm can seemingly come to anyone. Still, nobody talks about what happened in the school cloakroom ten years ago. Now, in the dead of night, Frankie Scarlatti is going to find out why.
A murder mystery with a touch of the supernatural, "LADY IN WHITE" is truly a labor of never-give-up determination and love on the part of writer/director Frank LaLoggia, who also co- produced the film and composed its musical score.
Determined to produce a quality motion picture without studio backing and lucky enough to have a cousin who happens to be a stock market whiz, LaLoggia was able to raise the film's entire budget through a public penny-stock offering, one of the first times in film history that a single motion picture was financed in this way.
Basing his multi-layered story on the folk legends that abound in his native Rochester, New York, LaLoggia's "LADY IN WHITE" is a classic ghost story with a strong dose of comedy and adventure.
Leading the cast as Frankie is Lukas Haas, who first achieved national prominence as the shy Amish boy in "Witness." In a change-of-pace role, Katherine Helmond ("Who's the Boss?," "Soap") also stars as Amanda, the town's eerily eccentric figure. Len Cariou, whose work includes the original Tony Award-winning role in Broadway's "Sweeney Todd," is Phil, a family friend. Alex Rocco, best remembered by moviegoers as mafia kingpin Moe Green in "The Godfather," and Jason Presson ("Explorers") as Frankie's older, prank-pulling brother, Gene.
Other key members on LaLoggia's production team are co- producer Andrew G. LaMarca, director of photography Russell Carpenter, production designer Richard K, Hummel, visual effects supervisors Ernest D. Farino and Gene Warren Jr,, and costume designer Jacqueline Saint Anne. Charles LaLoggia serves as executive producer.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Although principal photography for "LADY IN WHITE" began in the upstate New York town of Lyons -- population 4,700 -- on September 29, 1986, almost two years of preparation were behind the first day of shooting. Executive producer Charles LaLoggia had been raising the funding to make the independent movie during that period, and director/writer Frank LaLoggia was busy sorting out his semi-autobiographical plot on paper, putting together cast and crew, and meticulously storyboarding the script.
"When I think about 'LADY IN WHITE,' I think about it as a combination of two things -- my fondest memories as a child, and my most frightening nightmares," says Frank LaLoggia. "Whenever I begin work on a new story which I eventually take to screenplay, images start and compel me more than anything else."
One of the pictures LaLoggia had in his head was the cloakroom in which Lukas Haas is locked early in the film. The fact that it was behind the schoolroom's chalkboard, as well as its odd shape and strangely fashioned curved window, made the cubbyhole exactly like the one LaLoggia dreaded entering when he was a fourth grader.
"It was one of the most frightening places I had ever seen," says LaLoggia. "At the beginning of the day you would have to crowd into it and hang your coats on these big hooks and, of course take them off the hooks at the end of the day. Luckily, we did that as a communal effort. Going in alone would definitely not have been much fun for me!"
At the same time the cloakroom sequences were coming together, LaLoggia says a picture of growing up in the early '60s, as well as a vision of a ghostly thriller from a child's point of view, began to take shape. In combining all of these elements, LaLoggia felt he could convey both a recollection of childhood past and society's loss of innocence that began to take place during that time, all within the framework of one piece.
Because LaLoggia had spent so much time conceptualizing his story, his first draft to completed script took just three months to accomplish. "So the time I spent not writing anything down was really well spent," says LaLoggia. "When it actually came down to writing it, I felt pretty good about what I was doing,"
Although LaLoggia was the middle brother in his family and not the baby as Haas is in "LADY IN WHITE," he says he wrote several short stories just like Frankie, was equally as shy, had the same type of old-country Italian grandparents, including a grandfather who sneaked cigarettes and had a father based on Angelo. However, LaLoggia consciously tried to make Frankie's world a more placid one."My father was a welder, just like Frankie's," says LaLoggia. "But instead of the rural atmosphere of Frankie's house, we lived in the inner city and my dad built his shop right next door, So all day long we'd hear the sound of grinding steel. I romanticized to the extreme because I really wanted that contrast."
LaLoggia also played around with a popular ghost story from his childhood -- "my own" lady in white." According to Rochester legend, says LaLoggia, 50 or 60 years ago a woman who had lived close to a park near LaLoggia's house lost her lover to another woman. Becoming a woman scorned, she killed both her paramour and his new friend, and was consequently condemned to forever haunt the area. "Teenagers in the town's 'lover's lane' said she especially liked to frighten girls who were with their boy-friends. At least that's the way I heard it."
However, LaLoggia's cousin and executive producer, Charles LaLoggia, gives an entirely different account of the hapless woman's wanderings. "And I know mine is right, because I lived closer to the park than Frank!" he says. "This variation is that the woman never killed anyone, but she had a little girl who had been murdered in the park. So she roamed the park after her own death to scare other teenagers away, as a way of protecting her daughter. Actually. I think it was just another way for high school boys to cuddle up closer to their impressionable dates."
Whatever the story behind the legend really was, there is one important aspect to "LADY IN WHITE" that was kept as accurate as possible: Frank LaLoggia strived to portray Lukas Haas' character as "a real kid, not a movie kid." To that end, he tried to make the horseplay between Frankie and his older brother as lifelike as possible, as well as Frankie's shy infatuation with the angel-like girl in his class, played by Lyons-area resident Lisa Taylor,
"Since a lot of the focus in 'LADY IN WHITE' revolves around children, their relationships had to be real, even with all of the fantasy," explains LaLoggia. "This could've very easily turned into a Hardy Boys-type mystery, with Frankie going to all his peers and family and getting them all together and solving where the little singing girl came from. But Frankie decided to figure it out alone. Given his personality, it's what would've really happened."
LaLoggia was careful about his casting overall: that process took nearly five months. Because of LaLoggia's past acting background, he already had a professional relationship with veteran casting director Lynn Stalmaster, an invaluable asset when it came time to deciding which deals to make with what performers. "Getting Lynn involved in this was a selling point," says LaLoggia. "He loved the screenplay; he loved the project. Through him, I approached Lukas first. There was great interest there and we made the deal right away."
The script of "LADY IN WHITE" contained over 1400 hand-drawn images. "If you have the time, which we luckily did, it's the absolute best way to prepare a movie," says director of photography Russel Carpenter. "Although sometimes I felt that Frank was driving me too hard. I always knew it would be worth it in the end.
"Frank encouraged me to take chances visually," continues Carpenter. "For instance, we used a lot of blues and oranges against each other for no apparent reason than we just thought it might work. There's also a point where day becomes night rather suddenly. We decided to just go for it, and hoped that the audience would follow along. We were after a 'feeling' of impending horror, as opposed to a realistic transition from day to night."
During the storyboarding process, LaLoggia realized he would have to find a suitable area to shoot pounding waves crashing against jagged cliffs, something the otherwise perfect town of Lyons couldn't provide. Because those sequences are a pivotal part of the story regarding Frankie and the mystery he has been pursuing throughout the picture, LaLoggia took more time than usual to find his location. After seven weeks of Lyons photography, where torrential thunderstorms just prior to filming gave the area an even more realistic pre-Halloween feeling, then moving west to shoot all of the movie's interiors at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood for an additional seven weeks, LaLoggia found his bluffs in Kauai, Hawaii.
"No other location we looked at gave us the access we needed to set up our cameras and equipment," says LaLoggia. "Those scenes had to be very dramatic, and luckily, Hawaii had exactly what we needed. We ended up shooting all of the background plates for bluescreen there."
Looking back on his time behind the "LADY IN WHITE" cameras, LaLoggia says that making the movie was "a very emotional experience, there was a lot of love, among the cast. For example, Lukas Haas and Alex Rocco developed a wonderful rapport,"says LaLoggia, "but Lukas did with me, as well."
Casting Katherine Helmond as the eccentric Amanda Harper proved to be even simpler. Helmond had first met LaLoggia when his debut directorial effort, "Fear No Evil," was first released in 1981 and, impressed with that work, she and LaLoggia stayed in contact. When it came time to raise money for "LADY IN WHITE, Helmond volunteered her time, flying back and forth from Los Angeles to Rochester on several occasions, meeting with potential investors and cheering on LaLoggia and executive producer Charles LaLoggia·
"I did not write the part for Katherine at all," says LaLoggia· " The character already existed. Then one day I realized she would be tremendously right for this. When she read the script, she loved it and wanted to play it." Part of the process of raising the needed funding for the film next involved the making of a seven-minute promotional reel, which Helmond starred in.
Stalmaster did not have to search for the part of Phil either: LaLoggia was long a fan of Len Cariou's. "I saw 'Sweeney Todd' on Broadway six times." LaLoggia suggested the veteran stage star to Stalmaster for the role. Cariou read the script, flew out to meet LaLoggia from his Manhattan base, discussed with the director how he saw the character and signed on.
Alex Rocco, says LaLoggia, was simultaneously cast alongside Cariou. "That's because they're like brothers in the script, so it was really important that the chemistry work, that they be right together," he says. And although LaLoggia initially felt that Rocco was too old for the role, the actor convinced him otherwise.
"Al came in and just gave a hell of a reading," says LaLoggia. "And we also spent a good deal of time together before I decided to go with him, just getting to know one another. He was very excited to have the role: since this was casting against his usual tough guy/heavy persona."
In the midst of selecting his performers, LaLoggia and director of photography Russell Carpenter also storyboarded the screenplay. Dissension, and egos were kept to a minimum. "That's because the project became the most important thing. I believe the movie should always be the star."
BACKYARD SHOOTING AND GHOST COUNTRY, TOO
In recreating his recollections of an idyllic childhood for today's moviegoers, "LADY IN WHITE" director/writer Frank LaLoggia decided it was critical for the film's backdrop to play as strong a role as any of his human stars. Consequently, he decided to shoot nearly all exteriors of the ghostly thriller in his own youthful backyard, the still-quaint upstate New York town of Lyons.
Although LaLoggia grew up just 30 miles from the hamlet of nearly 5,000, he had never visited the area until he began scouting locations for his semi-autobiographical film. Yet almost as soon as he discovered the town, LaLoggia knew he had stumbled upon his "Willowpoint Falls", circa 1962, the place where nothing really bad could ever happen to anyone.
"I chose Lyons because I wanted the town to have a real storybook feel to it," says LaLoggia. "In the first draft, I had an image of the courthouse, of the gazebo, of the park, and Lyons had all of that. In fact, Lyons had everything I wanted."
Coincidentally, the town and the surrounding area of Wayne County were also at the hub of modern Spiritualism, the mysterious art of communicating with the dead, most popular in the mid - 1800s. That movement supposedly began with a ghostly experience involving three sisters, Katie, Margaret and Leah Fox, Rochestarians who moved to Hydesville, just west of Lyons, in 1847. In their day, the siblings gained widespread notoriety by claiming their house was haunted by the ghost of an old peddler whose throat had been cut with a butcher knife.
The sisters said they knew details of the ghost's killing because he communicated with them via a series of rapping noises heard late at night. In later years, the sisters held seances in Rochester, attended by believers who thought they could communicate with their loved ones through the Foxe's talents. While some tried to disparage their tales of ghostly communication, the sisters gained some credibility when a male skeleton was discovered in a false cellar wall of their cottage in 1904. Sham or not, that first Fox incidence spawned a movement which continues today.
It only took one day for LaLoggia and his "LADY IN WHITE" crew to transform Lyons into Frankie Scarlatti's mythical hometown. Using facades, signs and props of the early '60s, a photocopy center was turned into "Evans' Apothecary," the Soda Spa diner became "The Willowpoint Cafe", complete with old- fashioned Coca-Cola glasses, a monstrous cash register and counter jukeboxes, and a store window usually filled with barbecue grills and garden hoses had pumpkins, five-foot-high corn stalks and rakes.
"There were lots of advantages to filming where I did." says LaLoggia. "For one thing. I knew the area. And I could share the experience of making the picture with people who I loved and grew up with, family and friends, including many of the people who put up money from Rochester and surrounding towns. In fact, part of the appeal when we were raising the funds for "LADY IN WHITE" is that we told investors we were going to shoot the movie right near where they lived." continues LaLoggia. "So our investors got to visit the set. Some of them are even extras, and feel they were a real part of the picture."
Because photographing a feature was such a new and unusual event for Lyons, LaLoggia goes on to say that the residents did everything they could to help, which made the day-to-day grind of moviemaking that much easier. "Unlike certain neighborhoods in Los Angeles," he says, "the people in Lyons were more than happy to block off streets for us. In fact. it was pretty exciting for them."
NEW SKY COMMUNICATIONS: THE ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT LIVES ON
Armed with the fearlessness to produce a quality theatrical picture minus the help of any studio funding, and a cousin who happens to be a stock market whiz, filmmaker Frank LaLoggia was able to turn his dreams into reality with the completion of "LADY IN WHITE," a presentation from New Sky Communications.
While Frank LaLoggia set up offices in Hollywood to focus on the creative side of putting together his semi-autobiographical film, cousin Charles LaLoggia established parent headquarters in their native Rochester, New York, with the plan to attract investors from that area. Coordinating and bouncing off each other's best talents, they were able to commence principal photography on September 29, 1986, and deliver a finished product to their investors within a year-and-a-half of that date.
"New Sky Communications began its public offering in December 1985," says Charles LaLoggia. "And we ended up with about 4,000 investors, because you could invest in 'LADY IN WHITE' for as little as $100. So we had people who invested anywhere from that amount, up to $5,000, $10,000, and even $20,000, It was a penny-stock situation, offered at just ten cents a share. We originally netted $2 million after that offering, then secured an additional $3 million through issuing New Sky warrants and establishing credit lines with private investors."
Charles LaLoggia is quick to admit that his and Frank's familiarity with the people of upstate New York also helped them secure funding. "We were able to raise this money because people back in Rochester know who we are," he says. "We grew up there; we lived there; everybody knows Charlie and Frank LaLoggia. They know Frank because he makes movies and they know me because I'm the local stock market analyst." (Charles LaLoggia publishes LaLoggia's Special Situation Report, a 12-year-old national investment newsletter, and is also financial columnist for the Rochester-based Democrat & Chronicle daily newspaper,)
The economic environment was ripe for investing in a small independent movie as well. "Frank and I have talked about this a lot, Several smallish entertainment companies, such as Ron Howard's Imagine organization, decided to go public at the same time we did. It was just a good time to be in the stock market. You can have the best idea in the world, but if the stock market is not receptive to new ideas, forget it. In fact, we had tried to raise money for other projects, but they had fallen through. It wasn't that they were bad ideas, the timing was just off."
In addition, the LaLoggia cousins had a high-profile Hollywood connection to move their cause along: "LADY IN WHITE" star Katherine Helmond. "She was there for us all the time, way before filming began," says Charles LaLoggia. "In fact, Katherine was one of the founders of New Sky. She and her husband David Christian have been real supporters and real friends. When I first wanted to raise money for New Sky, they flew out to come to the first investors meeting, no questions asked."
The fact that Frank LaLoggia was able to sign two other noted stars to his film, Lukas Haas of "Witness" and Tony Award winner Len Cariou, also inspired confidence from investors. "After the movie was completed, I approached New Century/Vista because I wanted a company that really wanted this movie," says Frank LaLoggia. "I didn't want people who would think of 'LADY IN WHITE' as just another pick-up. The movie was screened for the appropriate executives and they were extremely enthusiastic, that's the most important thing."
On the whole experience of completing a movie from a company formed by him and his cousin, Frank LaLoggia observes: "This taught me that if I stick to my guns and just make sure the movie is protected, and get enough money to do what I want to do, making a picture independently is an ideal and rewarding approach toward filmmaking."
ABOUT THE PLAYERS
The then eleven-and-a-half year old LUKAS HAAS heads the "LADY IN WHITE" cast as Frankie Scarlatti, an introspective schoolboy whose flair for storytelling plunges him into the depths of a life-or-death mystery,
Best known as the endangered Amish child in Peter Weir's 1985 movie "Witness," Haas made his feature motion picture debut in "Testament," the acclaimed film about the after-effects of a nuclear blast on a small California community. That role did not come because Haas was an established actor: his kindergarten teacher, mindful of the fact that her charge usually came to school wearing costumes rather than street clothes, figured Lukas was destined to perform and recommended him to the casting director of that movie.
"LADY IN WHITE" director Frank LaLoggia says he had Lukas in mind while penning the script. "I had just seen 'Witness'," says LaLoggia, "and this little boy had a wonderful command of the subtleties of acting."
Lukas' father Berthold Haas agreed to sign with LaLoggia "because the script was refreshingly told from a child's perspective. It seems to come personally from Frank's childhood, we liked that."
Prior to "Testament," Haas appeared in an American Film Institute short titled "The Doctor," which starred Richard Masur. Subsequent feature work included a co-starring part in Mel Brooks' "Solarbabies," the title role in "The Wizard of Loneliness" and "See You in the Morning," which stars Jeff Bridges and Farrah Fawcett.
Haas can currently be seen in "Mars Attacks," and "John's."
Lukas has always been surrounded by theater and the arts: his mother Emily is a writer and his father is a painter. Lukas has two-year-old twin siblings and also shares his West Hollywood house with an animal menagerie that includes two beagles, a Siamese cat, two rats, fish, a turtle and a parakeet. Lukas' own perspective on making movies is refreshingly uncomplicated. "You get to meet new people and discover things you didn't know before," he says. "It's hard work and fun, and you learn that you can do things you didn't know you could."
KATHERINE HELMOND stars as Amanda Harper, an eerily eccentric presence in the sunny town of Willowpoint Falls. Widely known to discriminating television audiences across the country, Helmond currently stars on ABC-TV's top-rated "Who's The Boss?" series as Mona, the rather hip mother of a divorced advertising executive. She was also featured in the ground-breaking comedy show "Soap," for which the actress garnered four Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe Award as the deliciously daffy Jessica Tate.
Once called "hot stuff...a real ball of fire" by admirer Tony Danza, Helmond was raised in Galveston, Texas, where she received her first real professional training in that town's community theater. Honing her craft, the auburn-haired performer later migrated to New York and put in ten years of summer stock and another seven years with several professional regional theaters.
Along the way, she picked up a Tony nomination for the 1973 Broadway staging of Eugene O'Neill's "Great God Brown"; a Clarence Derwent Award; a New York Drama Critics Variety Award; a 1971 Obie nomination for her tragicomic figure in "House of Blue Leaves" and a Los Angeles Drama Critics Award the following year for the same character. Theaters in which Helmond has appeared include the prestigious Phoenix Repertory in Manhattan, Connecticut's Hartford Stage and the Rhode Island-based Trinity Square Repertory Company.
Prior to her series successes, Helmond also guest-starred on a number of television series, including "Gunsmoke,· "The Six Million Dollar Man," "The Bionic Woman" and, as Emily Dickinson, in Steve Alien's Emmy-winning PBS series "Meeting of the Minds." Her made-for-TV movie roles include work in the classic "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman," "The Legend of Lizzie Borden" and "Diary of a Teenage Hitchhiker."
Some of Helmond's theatrical features are Alfred Hitchcock's "Family Plot," Robert Wise's "The Hindenberg," as well as Terry Gilliam's outrageous "Time Bandits" and "Brazil."
Helmond has been working steadily behind the cameras for six years. as well, Encouraged by her set designer/artist husband David Christian, she completed an American Film Institute Directors Workshop for Women in 1983 and went on to direct several "Benson" and "Who's The Boss?" episodes. "My career turned upside down in my forties," says Helmond. "I think that's very healthy. It keeps you from looking in the mirror and saying 'Oh, life is settled now.' I'm always moving, changing."
LEN CARIOU stars as Phil, one of Frankie's few adult confidants, who unwittingly comes to teach the young boy the meaning of survival.
"Frank LaLoggia and I originally talked about me playing Angelo, Frankie's father," says Cariou. "But I was more interested in Phil, because he had so many other layers and textures. When I met Frank and saw that he had literally storyboarded the entire film, I thought, 'This is a pretty remarkable man and a pretty extraordinary work. If he can shoot what he's already got down on paper, this can't help but be a great movie.'
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Canada, Cariou's assorted stage and film characters include his Tony Award-winning performance in the Broadway musical "Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" with Angela Landsbury, and a co-starring role as an insurance salesman in the midst of a mid-life crisis in Alan Alda's 1981 hit movie "The Four Seasons."
Cariou started out as a crooner: at three, he was singing in perfect pitch and studied voice and piano while attending grammar school. A boy soprano, he sang in the church choir as well as at weddings and while still in high school, performed in local nightspots and with glee clubs, After graduation, Cariou decided to give show business his all and at age 20, landed a spot with the Manitoba Theater Centre, where he stayed for six years, performing summers at the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario.
While appearing in Brecht's "Mahogany" with the Manitoba ensemble, Cariou was spotted by a representative of the prestigious Tyrone Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and went on to spend almost six years with that group. At the Guthrie he was seen in stagings which included "The Skin of Our Teeth," "The Orestia," "Sergeant Musgrave's Dance" and "Twelfth Night." He also starred in the American Shakespeare Festival's productions of "Much Ado About Nothing," "The Three Sisters" and "Henry V."
In 1970 Cariou was cast in "Applause" as a young director in love with older actress Lauren Bacall. He stayed with the Broadway hit, for which he received a Tony nomination, for a year, then returned to the Guthrie as an associate director. Cariou also continued to perform with the theater and directed "Of Mice and Men" and "The Crucible" there, as well.
Back on Broadway, Cariou received another Tony nomination for "A Little Night Music" (he subsequently starred in the film version with Elizabeth Taylor) and also received acclaim for work in "Dance A Little Closer," "Cold Storage," "Night Watch" and, most recently, "Teddy and Alice." His New York directing work includes "Don't Call Back for Broadway" and "The Petrified Forest" Off-Broadway.
The actor's other motion picture credits include 1976's "One Man," for which he received the Canadian equivalent of our Oscar. Cariou has also starred or been featured in several TV movies, including "Killer in the Mirror," "Surviving," "Who'll Save Our Children" and "Madams X"
Cariou has also starred in London stage in the musical "Ziegfeld."
Frank Corsaro, Cariou's director in "Cold Storage," summed up the actors career best: "I don't think Len should stick to any one kind of theater, he should divide and conquer."
ALEX ROCCO plays Angelo Scarlatti. Frankie's blue-collar father who only wants the very best for his two young sons. The veteran character actor's career literally began two decades ago, with the flip of a coin.
"Heads, I was going to Miami and tails, California," says Rocco. "It came up tails. I was living in Boston at the time, tending bar and driving a truck, and I was bored.
Once he arrived in Los Angeles, Rocco found work bartending at the Raincheck Club on Santa Monica Blvd. It was there he met Ted Knight and Leonard Nimoy, and decided that acting could be his calling as well. Rocco's first role: a thug on the "Batman" TV show, for which he received the grand sum of $150. Rocco is also known to TV audiences as Jo Polnicek's father in "The Facts of Life".
After "Batman," Rocco decided to sit in on acting classes Nimoy was teaching while continuing to take on bit roles here and there. He finally signed up for a speech class after Nimoy embarrassed him about his heavy Boston accent one day in front of other students.
A steady career followed. With co-starring roles in films including "The Godfather," "Freebie and the Bean,· "The Boston Strangler" and "The Stuntman," two of Burt Reynolds' pictures, "Cannonball Run Part II" and "Stick."
On television, Rocco's talents have been seen in shows which include "Simon and Simon.", " Lily Tomlin's special, "Sold Out" and the mini-series "79 Park Ave."
Rocco has primarily portrayed killers and villains over the years, but says he is much more like the gentle Angelo than any other character he has played.
"As soon as I read the script, I knew I was right for Angelo," says Rocco. "I wanted to be part of this movie. I even gave up another role to do it. Angelo loves his children, but he's confused a lot. Being Italian too, I can relate to him. It's one of the best roles I've ever done."
Rocco has chosen to not "get hung up with the Hollywood hype" of Los Angeles, instead residing in the small coastal town of Carpinteria, about 80 miles north of the movie capital. He and his wife have three children, and he has a daughter from a previous marriage.
Sixteen year old JASON PRESSON stars as Geno, Frankie's prank-pulling older brother, whose involvement with the Willow point Falls mystery deepens when he discovers a startling clue.
Young Presson returns to the screen following impressive performances in such films as director Joe Dante's "Explorers" and the critically acclaimed "The Stone Boy," in which he starred with Robert Duvall and Glenn Close. Presson also starred in the comedy spoof "Saturday the Fourteenth--Part 2."
Born in Encino, California, and raised in nearby North Hollywood, Presson began performing at the age of eight in the Los Angeles community theater productions of "Charlie and Algernon" and "Sunrise at Campobello."
From his first television appearance in a frequently aired McDonald's commercial entitled "Little Sister," Presson quickly segued to the TV pilot "Wishman," as well as numerous guest spots in such popular series as "Trauma Center," "Trapper John, M.D.," "Finder of Lost Loves," "The Twilight Zone," and two Disney Sunday movies.
He has also starred in "Invitation to Hell," a television film with Robert Urich, and "An American Passage" for the American Film Institute.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
Director FRANK LALOGGIA also wrote, co-produced and served as the music composer/arranger for "LADY IN WHITE." Born and raised in Rochester, New York, LaLoggia is the middle son of a welder. His diverse filmmaking abilities surfaced at a tender age: at six he became a confirmed Saturday morning TV addict and by 11, was making short movies with his very own 16-millimeter camera.
During these years. LaLoggia spent hours in local movie houses and even rented movies on reels for at-home viewing. In his mid-teens he began entering his celluloid creations in various film festivals around the country, and went on to win a Photographic Society of America award and prizes from film festivals in Atlanta and Baltimore. The budding artist also began to test his acting wings: it was at 18 that he began a professional relationship with "LADY IN WHITE" casting director Lynn Stalmaster, who encouraged him to read for the Jack Nicholson movie "The Last Detail."
Working in front of an audience than became LaLoggia's passion. While attending the State University of New York and later the University of Miami, he appeared in more than thirty college, summer stock and dinner theater stagings and subsequently pursued film and television work while enrolled at the University of Southern California. Los Angeles had now become LaLoggia's home, and through Lynn Stalmaster, he went on to star in the CBS pilot "Salt & Pepe." LaLoggia was also featured in two ABC pilots: "Mixed Nuts" with Victoria Principal and "Snavely," starring Harvey Korman and Betty White.
But while his acting abilities allowed LaLoggia immediate access into Hollywood, his main interest and goal remained within the area of writing and directing films. He began to ease into that end of picturemaking in the late '70s by rescuing "troubled" features -- rewriting, directing additional material and restructuring plot lines.
However, LaLoggia's true visibility came in 1981 when he took a chance on the horror film "Fear No Evil." As he did with "LADY IN WHITE," LaLoggia directed, wrote, produced and co-composed the original score to his very first-feature film, which was distributed nationwide via Avco-Embassy.
The film chalked up healthy box-office figures and reviews, with the San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle reporting that LaLoggia "...did the thing most would-be filmmakers only wonder about. He took the chance to make an independent film without total capitalization or even a distribution deal up front, at a time when even the pros are finding their films shelved."
Of "LADY IN WHITE," LaLoggia says: "I now know that I can take a project from its conception to its completion admirably and make myself happy with what I've done and with the work. I've never seen myself as just a director, or exclusively a writer, or just a producer. I simply see myself as a filmmaker, a story teller who uses this medium."
The son of an Army career officer, producer ANDREW G. LA MARCA is a New Jersey native who grew up in Marseille and Paris, France. As a child, he became an avid moviegoer, especially trying to catch every new action-adventure that featured the latest special effects. By the time he moved back to the States as a senior in high school -- "I had to learn English, since I spoke only French!" -- La Marca had become an accomplished photographer.
La Marca polished those skills while attending the University of Denver, where he majored in motion picture, TV and radio production. After two years he transferred to Arizona State University because that institution had begun a state-of-the-art television station, and subsequently earned his BA in the same field.
After graduation La Marca headed to Los Angeles, where he volunteered his production expertise to several American Film Institute projects. La Marca then went on to work as an assistant cameraman on about twenty low-budget movies from Crown International pictures and Film Ventures, whose titles include "Van Nuys Boulevard," "The Van" and "Malibu Beach."
La Marca next joined the production department of Ken Kragen's Kragen & Company where he stayed five Years as a production supervisor/associate producer. Some of his credits include Kenny Rogers' CBS movie "The Coward of the County" and Rogers' "America" special; two Dottie West Showtime specials, and three Gallagher shows for the same outlet.
After Kragen shut down the production end of his business, La Marca decided the quickest entry into feature films was via music videos as a producer and production manager. In the last few years he has served in that capacity on about 35 videos, including Starship's award-winning "We Built This City on Rock 'n Roll," Alabama's "Forty Hour Week" and the Rascals' "Good Lovin'."
La Marca is now concentrating on feature films: as producer or production consultant, his work includes "personal Best," "Hunter's Blood" and "Crocodile Dundee II." As a producer, on "DMV," an action-comedy for Rainbow's End Productions. LaMarca recently co-produced "Ace Ventura, When Nature Calls."
"'LADY IN WHITE' was truly the most enjoyable, rewarding picture I've ever been on," says La Marca. "It was especially a joy to work with Frank because he could get down on film every thing he had pictured in his head. There were many surprises when it came down to shooting. Frank is already one of this town's most promising filmmakers and he's going to be one of the most powerful, too."
Director of photography RUSSELL CARPENTER was born in Van Nuys, California, and raised in that area, as well as Orange County (just south of Los Angeles) and San Diego. Although neither his parents nor siblings were involved in the entertainment business, Carpenter's grandfather once worked for director Frank Capra.
"I guess you could say I have a filmmaking generation in me, although there's a skip and jump in there," says Carpenter. "My grandfather was a sound engineer for Capra. He did 'It Happened One Night' and 'Lost Horizon,' among other movies." While he was never a movie buff growing up -- "although I watched my share of monster and car chase stuff like everyone else" -- Carpenter says he had "images that compelled me to decide to photograph movies."
One of those "images" happened while taking a summer high school class on movies. "The teacher brought in Ingmar Bergman's "Persona" with Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson," says Carpenter. "And there was a close-up of those two figures, photographed behind some fog or steam that was really electrifying. Suddenly it hit me how powerful films could be, and how much I'd like to be able to photograph that."
To gain some training, Carpenter majored in television production at San Diego State University, but later switched to English. "I found myself working as an intern at KPBS, the college public TV station," he says, "and I was really learning more there than in television courses. People at the station were instrumental in encouraging me to shoot film and, of course, the English studies helped me appreciate story content."
Carpenter garnered two local Emmys and was nominated for a third with the station, as well as receiving two Cine Golden Eagle awards. He also worked on a number of documentaries, including "The Real Rookies" and "American Indian Artists." Later television credits as director of photography include ABC's "The Rolling Stone Magazine 20th Anniversary Special," KCET's "The Emancipation of Mary Todd Lincoln" and the HBO comedy special "Women of the Night."
Carpenter's cinematography film work includes "Critters II" from New Line Cinema, "The Wizard of Speed and Time" (where he met Frank LaLoggia, who was acting in the movie), "Cameron's Closet" , "Sole Survivor, "True Lies," "Indian in the Cupboard," and the shooting "Titanic."
With "LADY IN WHITE" Carpenter says he tried to find "a look that would convey almost a remembered quality. We wanted the town to appear both like a memory of childhood and also like it could exist inside the bubble of a little boy's imagination. So much of this movie is Frank's film, but there was definitely a marriage of personalities behind it. Together, we arrived at how those images look -- and how they make you feel -- when you see them on the screen."
Executive producer CHARLES LALOGGIA is a Rochester, New York, native and president of New Sky Communications, the parent company responsible for raising and coordinating the private and public funding for "LADY IN WHITE."
With his cousin Frank, LaLoggia grew up watching movies. "The two of us especially loved all of the old Universal horror films made in the '30s and '40s," he says. "Lon Chaney, Boris Karloff, and I also like the Marx Brothers." But as the boys got older and Frank decided to become a filmmaker, Charles moved toward a career in business.
To that end, he began attending Syracuse University, studying journalism and business; upon graduation, LaLoggia's three majors were accounting, finance and economics. He then decided to become a stock market analyst and worked in that capacity for Merrill Lynch's Wall Street office for a year.
"I moved back to Rochester and started an investment newsletter," he says, "That was in 1974 and it's still going strong." The publication, called LaLoggia's Special Situation Report, comes out every three weeks and has grown into one of the largest and most respected journals of its kind in the country, with a subscriber base of about 4,000. The report, and LaLoggia, have been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Barrens, London's Financial Times and Business Week. In addition, LaLoggia is stock analyst/columnist for the Rochester based Democrat & Chronicle newspaper.
LaLoggia formed New Sky Communications in late 1984 to make a movie which Frank would write and direct. (Earlier, however, LaLoggia had raised the $500,000 for Frank's first directorial effort, "Fear No Evil," which went on to gross $8 million.) In December 1985 New Sky Communications became a public company. Its stock trades on the over-the-counter market under the symbol NSKY.
"A lot of small entertainment companies were going public at that point, so it was a good time to raise money in the stock market," says LaLoggia. "People were optimistic and willing to take risks and that's a great environment for companies with new ideas."
"Frank and I decided that the best way to make an independent film like 'LADY IN WHlTE' was just to go all the way. We did not pre-sell anything; we kept all the rights; we didn't hedge. Some people might say that was a very risky thing to do, but I never felt that way for a second. I always had confidence that Frank would deliver a quality, commercial movie on budget, which he did."
LaLoggia's future plans for New Sky include making more films with his cousin, as well as other filmmakers. When he wants to "get away from it all," he turns to thoroughbred horse racing.
"It's my passion," says LaLoggia. "I've owned horses for the last ten years and I'll continue to. But you know what? The more deeply I get into the motion picture business, the more fascinating and challenging it is!"