LASSIE STAR VISITS
One of television's first child superstars, Jon Provost, who played Timmy on the iconic Lassie show, arrived in Daytona Beach recently for a personal appearance at Cinematique of Daytona.
Jon's visit marked the final event in a five day Florida tour, during which an estimated 10,000 fans turned out in Orlando, followed by another thousand at Ripleys Believe It Or Not Museum in St Augustine.
"We were so excited to have Jon visit us," said Kim Kiff, Ripleys manager.
"Just thinking of the television show and the hours I spent with my parents watching it brings a smile to my face. Who didn't love Timmy and Lassie?"
"He was as popular with adults as he was with the kids," said Gary Lester of Blue Heron International Pictures, the company arranging the event.
"Jon had an unbelievable run in Hollywood during the golden age of the studios and in the early days of television."
"In his book,Provost provides us with a candid view of his life growing up among the stars, and what he did, and the passions he pursued once he retired from the Lassie series at age 14."
"He also talks about how he worked closely with Rudd Weatherwax, the owner and trainer of the dogs who played Lassie, beginning with movies in the 1940s."
"We wrapped up the Florida tour with two screenings of Lassie's Great Adventure in Daytona Beach," said Lester.
While it was the smallest of his venues, Jon was a people-pleaser in Daytona Beach as well.
People were even coming by with their rescued collies and service dogs in-training who also seemed to love Jon immediately.
"It was a beautiful thing to behold," said Gary Lester.
Blue Heron's Johnny Martino (The Godfather), Gary Lester (Safe Haven: The Warsaw Zoo), and Jon Provost (Lassie)
THE WEATHERWAX LEGACY NOMINATED FOR TWO AWARDS AT FILM FESTIVAL
Blue Heron International Pictures announced that The Weatherwax Legacy successfully screened in April, 2012 at The Treasure Coast International Film Festival in Port St. Lucie and Fort Pierce, Florida.
The festival nominated the film for Best Documentary, as well as the Florida Film Gem Award.
"While we did not win either of the awards," said director Gary Lester, "it is nevertheless an honor to be chosen for the festival, and an additional honor to even be nominated for an award."
Last summer, 2011, the eight minute mini-documentary premiered at the Los Angeles Movie Awards, where it won an honorable mention for director Gary Lester and producer Terry Thistlethwaite.
"Bob and his father Rudd Weatherwax are icons in Hollywood, having trained the dogs for the Lassie movies of the 1940's, as well as 360 episodes of the Lassie TV series," said Lester.
"We are honored to be working collaboratively with such a fine human being and his very special animals."
The Weatherwax family also owned and trained Asta for The Thin Man movies, Toto in Wizard of Oz, and seven generations of collies known to fans around the world as Lassie.
"When you are shooting movies, you can easily be involved in 14 hour days," said Bob Weatherwax during the filming of the documentary.
"That's why we would only work each collie as Lassie for six years."
Weatherwax is known for his humane training methods with dogs.
Pal, the Weatherwax dog first cast as Lassie, watches over Roddy McDowell.
Screenings have included the Los Angeles Movie Awards (June 2011), the Asheville Cinema Festival (November 2011), the Daytona Beach Film Festival (November 2011), the Fifteen Minutes of Fame Film Festival in Palm Bay, Florida (December 2011), and The Treasure Coast International Film Festival in Port St. Lucie.
In April, 2013, the film also screened at the World Arts Film Festival in Jacksonville, Florida.
For more information, please visit Weatherwax Trained Dogs.
President of Israel Lauds
Blue Heron Documentary
Israeli President Shimon Peres with Marsha Goren
Blue Heron International Pictures announced recently that Safe Haven: The Warsaw Zoo has been recognized by the President of the State of Israel.
The film is an award-winning Holocaust documentary directed by Gary Lester and distributed internationally by Blue Heron.
"Our dear friend Miki Goldwasser arranged for President Shimon Peres to receive a copy of the film," said executive producer Richard Lester.
Goldwasser's son Udi is a national hero in Israel, one of three Israeli Defense Force soldiers captured by terrorists several years ago. Udi made the ultimate sacrifice for his nation and his people.
In his Safe Haven letter, President Peres sent his personal blessings to "all of the partners of this important creative work and its worldwide distribution."
Jan Zabinski, heroic Warsaw zookeeper
"This is another reminder that there was one righteous man in Sodom," wrote Peres, referring to Jan Zabinski, the heroic Warsaw zookeeper credited with saving 300 Jewish men, women, and children at the risk of his life and the lives of his family during the Holocaust.
"President Peres was obviously moved by the film," said Lester. "The story is both tragic and inspirational. When Jan Zabinski was asked why he risked his life and the welfare of his family to save the lives of strangers, he replied, 'We did it because it was the right thing to do.' He is my hero."
Safe Haven was recently accepted by the WorldKids International Film Festival for screening in Mumbai and New Delhi, India. The festival is a project of the WorldKids Foundation in Mumbai.
According to Manju Singh, Festival Director, "We firmly believe that with films such as yours, we help children become better equipped to face the world with better skills and knowledge."
The message of the film is universal and timeless.
"Our producer in Warsaw, Feliks Pastusiak, arranged for a Polish language version to be screened regularly at the Warsaw Zoo," exclaimed Lester.
Ryszard Zabinski at home with producer, Feliks Pastusiak.
Moshe Tirosh, who spent part of his childhood in hiding at the Warsaw Zoo, re-visits the Zabinski Family villa more than 60 years later. With him, during this very emotional experience, is Warsaw Zoo Deputy Director Ewa Zbonikowska, who assisted in making the film. (Photo courtesy of Feliks Pastusiak)
BLUE HERON ARRIVING
IN SPAIN, ANDORRA, AND PORTUGAL
Blue Heron International Pictures recently announced a new distribution deal which will make the company's films available to Spanish-speaking audiences in three European countries.
"We are delighted to be working with Marc Gras at Tyrannosaurus Entertainment in Barcelona, Spain," said executive producer Richard Lester.
"Marc is a very talented filmmaker himself, so we are honored to be associated with him and his company."
Marc Gras in Barcelona, Spain
The new agreement allows for Blue Herons films to be sub-titled in Spanish, and then distributed to the home video market via DVD in Spain, Andorra, and Portugal.
The deal also calls for theatrical releases in movie theatres, along with broadcasts on both pay and free television.
Director Gary Lester's international Holocaust blockbuster, Safe Haven: The Warsaw Zoo, will be the first film to be sub-titled and distributed, followed by the soon-to-be-released animal documentary, Our Forever Friends.
Safe Haven: The Warsaw Zoo is already translated into Polish, Hebrew, and Russian.
Producer Feliks Pastusiak handles all distribution in Poland, and producer Alex Ringer handles all distribution activity in Israel.
In April 2012, Ringer arranged for a Holocaust Remembrance Day broadcast on Israeli television for the fourth consecutive year.
A Hebrew version of the DVD is also available in Israel.
Blue Heron Website Honored
Blue Heron International Pictures is deeply grateful that its official company website recently received a prestigious award from the Weatherwax Trained Dogs organization in California.
These are the folks who brought animals into the hearts of millions of children for more than 75 years, said Executive Producer Richard Lester. It is we who should be honoring them.
The Weatherwax group designated Blue Heron's website as an aesthetically attractive one, offering wholesome family content to its visitors. The company website is now authorized to display the prestigious Bob and Laddie Award, and link to the Weatherwax organization.
Blue Heron Director Gary Lester with Jon Provost, who played Timmie on Lassie
"I first learned of this award from Jon Provost, who played Timmie on the Lassie television series," said Blue Heron's award-winning director, Gary Lester.
"He is very much into supporting animal causes such as Canines For Independence, and we are very much into bringing attention to shelter animals across the country through our animal documentaries."