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Seneca Falls TV series to be announced in Cleveland

On Thursday, February 19 at a noon press conference at Fellowship Bible Church in Bainbridge, Karolyn Grimes, the actress who played George & Mary Bailey’s (Jimmy Stewart & Donna Reed) youngest child “Zuzu” in Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, will announce signing with Saved Films Productions (the company is in the process of incorporating under the name) to return to Hollywood in a lead role in Seneca Falls, a weekly television reality-drama, and in a cameo role in the original screenplay Pie in the Sky.The press conference will also announce the launch of Saved Films Productions with offices in Cleveland, Los Angeles and Charlotte and the third property of the original slate, I Once Was Lost, based on the true life stories of 13 South Sudanese/Canadian refugees, sometimes referred to as The Lost Boys of Sudan (many of whom carried the Sudanese flag in the recent Olympics).Announcing the launch of Saved Films Productions will be Los Angeles writer, producer, actress and choreographer Toni Hudson (Places of the Heart, Cross Creek, Just One of the Guys, Prime Risk, Country Music Awards, Seneca Falls, Ke-rekt Living), Charlotte writer/producer Willie Mangum (I Once Was Lost, GM for theatrical distribution of The List), and Cleveland writer/entrepreneur Bob Fruchter (Pie in the Sky, Seneca Falls).Toni Hudson shares, “What’s very exciting to me, is my good friend, director Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride, Dear God, Nothing in Common, Beaches, The Other Sister, Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Mork and Mindy to name a few) is reading Pie in the Sky and Seneca Falls right now as we launch the production company.I am hoping to find a fit with either project for Garry Marshall. He understands the true heartbeat of the American public.”Entrepreneur Damon Mintz joins the team for the announcement. Mintz and Fruchter cast a vision 12 years ago to bring “family friendly” entertainment to main stream America and now it is becoming a reality. “It’s exciting to see the level of talent and passion these projects have attracted. With additional quality projects on our slate, Saved Films Productions has a great opportunity to create the type of quality entertainment families can experience together,” Mintz shares.“I’ve waited many years to find the right project to return to acting,” says Karolyn, whose sixteen movies include The Bishop’s Wife with Cary Grant and Loretta Young, and Rio Grande with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. “It’s amazing that I’ve found two projects that are a fit from the same production company.”“While Karolyn’s role in Pie in the Sky will be a cameo appearance, it’s the project that brought her and I, as well as the Saved Films team together,” Fruchter shares. Pie in the Sky is a story about the destructive power of pride and the restorative power of forgiveness in a Depression era It’s a Wonderful Life, Forrest Gump, Field of Dreams romantic adventure. Begun July 10, 2001 and finished July 10, 2008, it eerily and prophetically tells the story of a Wall Street baron who builds the most successful investment firm through a ponzi scheme only to lose everything on Black Tuesday 1929.Grimes shares, “It’s a Wonderful Life was Frank Capra’s response to his belief that America was becoming an atheist country. Like It’s a Wonderful Life, Pie in the Sky portrays pain and adversity and then offers hope and inspiration.” Karolyn, who’s overcome tragedy in her own life, will play herself in the weekly television reality-drama Seneca Falls. The series home will be The Hotel Clarence, the real-life hundred plus year old hotel in the heart of Seneca Falls, NY that is being renovated by entrepreneur Joachim Ohlin. The Hotel Clarence is set to open in May 2009 as a four star 30’s style luxury hotel with a spa and 5 star restaurant featuring one of the top five chefs in America who is relocating from the California wine country.Each weekly episode of Seneca Falls will weave in real life inspirational stories of how It’s a Wonderful Life (recently named the most inspirational movie in cinema history) has touched and changed the lives of average Americans – empowering them to press on in life as they embrace the movie’s message that “life is worth living and no man is a failure who has friends.”In mid-January Toni Hudson filmed a call-to-action video in various Seneca Falls locations: The Hotel Clarence, Zuzu’s Café, “The” Steel Truss Bridge, Blossom’s Flower Shop, the Bailey Home and Seneca Falls Savings Bank. The video will go live on YouTube February 19 and ask It’s a Wonderful Life fans around the world to share their stories how the movie has changed their lives. Real life stories of average people triumphing over adversity then passing it on, touching the lives of others, will be the inspiration for each episode. As Karolyn Grimes has traveled the world over the years as the unofficial ambassador for the movie, people line up to meet her and tell her their inspirational stories. She has saved the hundreds of stories including ones from Shanghai, China and England.“We expect to receive thousands of stories that we’ll weave into the fictional series,” says Fruchter. “We’ll go into cities throughout America, just like American Idol, and meet the people to hear their stories of triumph.”“This is a no-brainer for a company sponsor but we’re being patient, letting the blog and the city of Seneca Falls be the star the first month as we pour through the stories and consider sponsor/partner opportunities,” says Hudson. “Before the blog even goes live the buzz has been very exciting,” she adds.Seneca Falls, NY is the town Frank Capra patterned It’s a Wonderful Life’s fictional town Bedford Falls after. Seneca Falls has taken on the persona of Bedford Falls and carried the message of hope from the movie throughout the decades.New York State Senator Michael Nozzolio adds his support, “Many people, like myself, believe that Seneca Falls is the real “Bedford Falls” and each year hundreds of people visit Seneca Falls to celebrate the film and to continue the community spirit evidenced in the movie. By bringing this phenomenon to television, people from around the country will be able to appreciate the community of Seneca Falls. This project has the potential to greatly benefit Seneca Falls, my home town, and its residents and I offer wishes for a very successful production.”“I Once was Lost is the first documentary about Sudan by a Sudanese filmmaker and features 13 Sudanese refugees with one incredible story of heart, heroism, healing and hope,” says Mangum. The filmmaker, currently living as a refugee in Khartoum, produced two December 2007 TV programs for the Billy Graham Association’s My Hope: Sudan Project.“Cleveland has an active film commission and a passion to be an on-location destination for movie production,” Fruchter says. “Our plans are to build a film production studio within ten years in Northeast Ohio,” he adds.People can access the Seneca Falls blog and share their stories at: www.senecafalls.com, www.zuzu.net, or www.therealbedfordfalls.com. Fellowship Bible Church is located at 16391 Chillicothe Road, Bainbridge, Ohio 44023.Bob Fruchter can be reached at 440-829-8926; Toni Hudson at 818-207-6154; Willie Mangum at 704-543-5433.

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