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Friday
Apr102009

The Penalty Phase

During the summer of 1986 one of most interesting things in my childhood had been put into motion.Penalty Phase [VHS] , a TV movie, began filming in my small hometown.

The film starred Peter Strauss (Judge Kenneth Hoffman) and Melissa Gilbert (Leah Furman, Court Clerk). The film dealt with the struggle of a Judge who must follow the letter of law even if the consequences may set a serial killer free.

One of the reasons this was such a monumentous occasion was because so many of my family and friends appeared in the film in one way or another. In the title sequence we see a still frame of our Wasco County Courthouse. Outside the building seated on a newspaper on a bench is my cousin and renowned landscape painter Anthony Kiser reading a newspaper.

My mother and many of my cousins appear in the audience that listens with rapt attention to the political debate that takes place in the film. The location for that scene was The Dalles High School auditorium.

I bring up this film because recently because I found this essay that Gale Patrick Hickman the writer of The Penalty Phase (former attorney and Orange County, California presiding Judge) posted, The Writing and Filming of The Penalty Phase, that recounts his experiences that led to the creation of the screenplay and the process of casting and filming it in The Dalles on the banks of the Columbia River.

 

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