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Ch.2's Beard is in the movies; Local connection to "The Butler"

 By Alan Pergament

I took a Labor Day weekend break from watching television to go to the movies and the U.S. Tennis Open in New York City.

And, of course, I came across some Buffalo-related stories along the way.

One of the movies I saw was "In a World," a cute comedy starring, written and directed by Lake Bell, who TV viewers may remember from her days on David E. Kelley's series' "The Practice" and "Boston Legal" and the short-lived NBC series "Surface."

"In a World" is set in the voiceover world. Bell plays a voice coach whose father is a legendary, egocentric, award-winning voice of numerous commercials.

Early in the movie, several famous voiceover stars -- if you can call them stars -- are heard.

One of the most famous, Don LaFontaine, is interviewed by someone whose face isn't seen but whose voice and laugh sound extremely familiar.

It sounded like Channel 2 anchor John Beard, who already has had quite a star-filled year appearing in several episodes of the Netflix season of "Arrested Development."

After the movie ended, I waited to see if Beard made the credits. Well, actually it wasn't much of a chore. I'm one of the people who always stay in his seat after the end of movies to watch all the credits.

Beard wasn't in the credits, but his former Los Angeles station, Fox affiliate KTTV, made it for allowing a 2004 clip to appear in the film.

I texted Beard to see if he knew he was in the film. Sure enough, he confirmed that it was his voice. He added that he did a news series when he worked in Los Angeles on voiceover artists and that he even got some money for the few seconds of old work shown in the film thanks to his union membership.

He wouldn't say how much, but I imagine it was enough to buy a movie ticket in New York City. And that isn't cheap these days.

A few days earlier -- it threatened to rain a lot in NYC this weekend so it was perfect for the movies -- I went to see "Lee Daniels' The Butler,” a very good film that stars Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey and had some pretty unusual casting: Robin Williams as President Eisenhower, Liev Schreiber ("Ray Donovan") as President Johnson and Minka Kelly ("Friday Night Lights") as Jacqueline Kennedy were among the most interesting choices.

So naturally I waited for the credits to see who were the film's casting directors. One of them turned out to be Billy Hopkins, a 1976 Nichols School graduate and Snyder native who I had written about six years ago.

Hopkins was the casting director on the pilots of "Roseanne" and "Sex and the City" and cast James Gandolfini in the film "True Romance," which led to his getting the role of Tony Soprano.

I hadn't seen Hopkins' name attached to any recent film so I was pleasantly surprised to see his name in the credits for one of the most popular and critically-acclaimed films of the year. He and Daniels also worked together on the film "Precious." They are former partners and adopted twins together many years ago.

While in NYC, I also tried out Channel 4's new app that allows people to watch the streaming of newscasts on their computers, phones or Ipads. Channel 2 also has an app that does the same thing.

The Channel 4 app worked beautifully on my smart phone Monday and enabled me to keep up with who won the chicken wing contest and all the important things that were going on back home.

We live "In a World" that is more and more amazing thanks to technology. 

It didn't sound like I missed much locally. But I'll be back watching TV the normal way starting tonight.

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Film | Television | TV news
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