From The Road - Dallas, Texas
- Jim Cusumano - August 29, 2001
Dallas was an awesome experience.
You know, I don't believe in coincidences. The root of the
word comes from a Latin form of 'coincide' which means 'come
together'. And that is exactly what happened in Dallas.
As it happened, the magnificent new Angelika Theater opened
its doors only a few weeks before our premiere, and its
popularity in Dallas is growing by leaps and bounds. So,
it was natural for our partners in Dallas, Women In Film
and Gilda's club to arrange for our screening there. The
marvelous management of the Angelika chain was kind enough
to provide us with their largest theater, holding more than
400 people, for a very modest price.
The premier sold out in hours and we filled every seat.
As people arrived and purchased their ticket, many mingled
with the actors in the lobby, which houses a beautiful café
and bar, somewhat reminiscent of one of those Parisian art
deco café's of the 60s. Whether you wanted an espresso
or a martini, it was all there for you. Polly Cusumano,
Tamara Clatterbuck, Ransford Doherty, Gretchen German and
Marshall Teague flew in from Los Angeles. Kaitlyn Lewis
drove up from Amaraillo. They all were most gracious to
sign autographs and just speak with filmgoers.
All of the major Dallas press and several TV stations were
there for interviews with the actors and producers. There
was of course high interest in hearing how Polly and I found
working with Jane as writer/director, especially for Polly.
"How was it being directed by your Mom?" Polly
responds, "It was a challenge at times, but as my Mom,
she knew how to push the right buttons to get the kind of
reaction demanded of my character in any given situation.
Marshall Teague, who most often plays the bad guy, expressed
his appreciation in a TV interview for being given the opportunity
to explore and portray such a multidimensional character
as Raymond Warner. This character makes one of the biggest
arcs of change in the story.
After an introduction by Susan Lindemann, the Executive
Director of the Dallas chapter of Gilda's Club, and some
opening comments by me, we ran the 7-minute documentary
and the film. The ovation from the audience at the end was
overwhelming. It is clear that this film does just what
Jane intended it to do, it touches the very depths of the
human spirit. And it doesn't matter whether you are a man
or a woman, 16 or 60. It makes you think, it makes you laugh,
and yes it does make you cry, everyone does somewhere in
those 121 minutes of play.
The Q & A that followed the film was led by one of Dallas'
great ladies and journalists, Jane Sumner from the Dallas
Morning News. She did a marvelous job. During this session,
we learned that Chad Allen, who plays Lucas Warner desperately,
sought this part after reading the script, against his agent's
admonition. "Why would you ever want to work with a
first-time director?" Chad's performance is brilliant.
Tamara Clatterbuck, former star of General Hospital and
now Days of Our Lives, admitted that she immediately fell
in love with the role of Anita Stone for which she auditioned.
She told her manager and agent that she would work for nothing
if she could get the part. And that's the way WHAT MATTERS
MOST got off the ground. First, the cast and crew fell in
love with the script, and then they fell in love with Jane.
And their performances on screen show as much.
The screening was followed by a marvelous desert party just
50 yards from the theater at Café Patrique, with
all wines and desserts donated by owner, Patrick Esquerre.
What a wonderful man, God bless you, Patrick! People who
had read about the Dallas premiere came from near and far,
Austin and even Amarillo, where we would premiere the following
evening. Some wanted to see the film twice, some wanted
to be sure they got to see it since it was clear that it
would likely sell out where ever it would screen.
The questions and comments from the audience were so satisfying.
"Jane is a special woman, her talents will be missed."
"When can we get to see her next script on film (There
are three left that we hope to bring to the screen over
the next few years.)?"
Our first major premiere beyond our hometown kickoff at
Ojai, and a wonderful success it was. Stay tuned for six
more cities to come, starting with Amarillo, tomorrow evening!
The Road - Amarillo, Texas - Jim Cusumano - August 30, 2001
Another sold out premiere this
evening! Associate producer, Sue Burns Hoffman and Producer,
Charla Driver with assistance from other Amarillo crew did
an outstanding job of organizing a first class and memorable
I had planned to premiere WHAT MATTERS MOST in Dallas as
one of the six major cities selected for our nationwide
Inspiration & Awareness Tour. After all, it is a Texas
film and a major population can be reached in Dallas as
a means of achieving our objectives of inspiring others
with Jane's story, raising awareness and funding for breast
cancer, and increasing the visibility of the film prior
to striking a distribution deal.
But shortly before Jane passed away, she made me promise
that we would premiere in Amarillo, as she said, "where
fine people had given their hearts and souls to help us
make this a successful film." So we compromised, and
decided to show it back-to-back in both Dallas and Amarillo.
The theater of choice was the large United Artist metroplex
on US 40 at Soncy Road. Sue booked the 250-person auditorium,
but it was soon clear that the film would sell out. The
manger then gave us his largest theater, holding 500 people.
They came in droves from Amarillo, from many small towns
in the panhandle, and of course, from Vega, the small "one-horse"
hamlet, 30 miles to the west where most of WHAT MATTERS
MOST was shot.
The film was scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. and people
began to line up at 5:00 p.m. The local press, and FOX and
NBC TV crews where there for live coverage and interviews
with producers and actors. Polly Cusumano, Ransford Doherty,
Gretchen German and Marshall Teague flew in from the Dallas
premiere last evening, and Kaitlyn Lewis, Jason Haney and
a number of other actors from Texas were there as well.
WHAT MATTERS MOST T-shirts and our special Texas hot sauce
were given out as souvenirs to the audience.
The film sold out in 30-minutes and we were left with some
200 people left outside clamoring to get in. Another more
than 100 people never tried to get in when they saw the
size of the line. Charla begged the theater manager to allow
some overflow in and he graciously agreed. Thank God the
fire department wasn't around! By the time the show started,
we had more than 600 people in the theater, many sitting
on the steps in the aisles, some standing. What an incredible
sight! I am sure Jane was there, and she must have been
touched by the spirit of the crowd. They were wonderful.
We started the show with an introduction by the Senior Director
of Development for the Don & Sybil Harrington Cancer
Center in Amarillo. That's where Jane received her weekly
chemotherapy treatments while we were shooting there last
fall. All ticket sales were donated to the Harrington Center.
We raised more than $5,000 for them. Wow!!
I gave an introduction and told everyone about our successes
to date and our plans for the remainder of the tour. Then
we rolled the 7-minute documentary and the film. A little
over 120 minutes latter, Jane received a standing ovation.
There wasn't a dry eye in the house. Men and women alike,
even an 16-year old boy, came up and told me they could
not help but laugh and cry and that---just as Jane had planned---WHAT
MATTERS MOST had touch their spirit like no other movie
they had seen in recent times. I was so happy for Jane,
I though that I was going to burst.
Alyson Dutch, from Public relations led a Q & A from
the audience to the actors and me. There were lots of questions:
"Polly, how was it to work with your Mom and Dad?"
"Marshall, how did you find the emotional place to
deliver the diverse set of intense performances demanded
by your role as the tough-minded Raymond Warner?" "Gretchen,
what were you thinking when as Bunny Warner, you delivered
that incredible response to your son, Lucas' question about
your relationship with Raymond, 'Do you still love him?'"---And
But, the most telling moments came at the very end when
numerous members of this audience, some 600 strong, stood
up and made incredibly complimentary and touching comments.
One sticks in my mind, it came from an elderly Texas actor
who graced us with his presence, "There is no question
in my mind that several of you should be nominated for an
Academy Award." Thank you Amarillo and God bless. Janie,
you did so very, very well. We are proud of you, and yes,
we miss you.
What Matters Most to you and me
Is not the hate that's on TV
It's not the loss of life for spite
Nor is it fighting just to fight!
What Matters Most to
us it seems
Is not excessive or extreme!
If we fill our lives with "I"
Our hearts grow empty, and we die!
What Matters Most for
Is to help each other along the way
The path is steep and tough to climb
Our journey is easier when we're kind
What Matters Most to
you and me
Lets Gods' Spirit set us free
To live our lives the best we know
To make it real not just a show
What Matters Most is from above
What Matters Most to us is LOVE
The Love we give to young and old
Becomes more love that we can hold
What Matters Most is LOVE!
the movie "What Matters Most"
Written & Directed by Jane Cusumano