Hey, Boo…

May 3, 2014 – Turn up your volume and watch this. I’ll catch you on the other side.

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird tops so many of my lists of favorites: novel, adapted screenplay, movie, title sequence, film score…to name the majors. I owe a debt of gratitude to my 10th grade English teacher, Miss Lee (coincidence, but no relation), for introducing me to the world of Scout and Jem and Dill and Atticus and Tom Robinson. When I finished the book, I started to second guess my dream of being a writer because Harper Lee had set the bar impossibly high. It’s a novel that stays in my “to read” pile on the night stand, and one that I often move to the top so that I can experience it yet again. And if the movie happens to be on when I’m flipping channels? There goes my afternoon. I still tear up at the court room scene when Scout is sitting in the segregated balcony, and is told to stand up when her father’s passing. I’ve also been known to reply to a greeting in an old lady voice, “Don’t you hey me, you ugly little girl!” So, with all of that said, I feel very fortunate that my professional path has crossed with the film twice, albeit in teeny, tiny ways. The first, way back in 1983, when I co-wrote and co-produced a documentary about the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP under the auspices of the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution where I worked in the audio visual department. With the help of Julian Bond, we managed to get Brock Peters (Tom Robinson in the movie) to narrate, and I “met him”  when I had the privilege of directing his voice over work by phone from my office in Atlanta to a recording studio in Los Angeles. And yes, I was incredibly starstruck but managed to remain professional. The second time was more recently when I was a writer and co-EP on the CBS series Ghost Whisperer. First, I was thrilled to realize that the courthouse that dominated the Back To The Future town square set on the Universal Studios backlot (where many of our exteriors were filmed) still bore traces of its appearance in Mockingbird. Second, I was blown away one day while we were filming on Elm Street at the house the show’s protagonist lived in. I’m pretty sure it was our script supervisor, Suzan Lowitz, who told me that although the structure had been modified, we were standing on the porch of none other than Boo Radley’s house! Over the course of my 2.25 seasons on that series, I always felt an indescribably wondrous connection to Harper Lee and the indelible world she created every time I had the privilege of visiting that set. It was, as they say, almost like being there. Stay tuned…

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