News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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February 15, 2014

Audience gets first look at ‘The Drunk’

Fans, actors, supporters turn out for showing of movie filmed in Terre Haute

TERRE HAUTE — For one night, Hollywood came to Terre Haute.

The Indiana Theatre was packed Saturday with close to 1,300 excited movie-goers, film extras, actors and supporters for the much-anticipated official premiere of the movie, “The Drunk.”

And just like any other movie premiere, the event was complete with lights, camera and the red carpet, of course.

Many people smiled as they walked on the red carpet and took photos with the stars of the film, William Tanoos and Paul Fleschner, both from Terre Haute. The duo also co-wrote and co-directed the film, which is planned to be released nationally in April and internationally afterward.

“It was fun,” said Hallie Whitley after walking on the red carpet. She is a 13-year-old who traveled with family from Atlanta, Ga., for the Terre Haute premiere.

Whitley, an aspiring actress born in Terre Haute, clearly enjoyed her first red carpet moment.

“One day, I’ll be in Hollywood walking this red carpet up and down,” she said, before the 8 p.m. screening.

 “The Drunk,” filmed “98 percent” on location in Terre Haute, follows a character named Joe Debs, a hard drinking young man who gets arrested for drunken driving, then decides to make himself the only opposition in the Governor’s race against a corrupt prosecuting attorney. The character, played by Tanoos, is the fictional grandson of internationally famous labor leader and Terre Haute-native Eugene V. Debs.  

Film-makers Tanoos and Fleschner said the movie illustrates how the political machine works, a story of personal redemption.

The film also stars Hollywood actors Jesse Ventura and Tom Sizemore, who is famous for his roles in “Saving Private Ryan” and “Black Hawk Down,” and numerous local extras.

One premiere attendee and local film extra already knew she was part of the movie because she already saw herself in the trailer.

Gloria Schopper, of Terre Haute, played a reporter — complete with pen and notebook — in a scene in which Debs spoke to the media in front of the Eugene V. Debs Home, now a museum on the Indiana State University campus.   

“I’m just so excited to be a part of it because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in Terre Haute,” Schopper told the Tribune-Star.

She’s glad that the film, a product of more than three years of work, was “finally here.”

When asked how it feels to be in a motion picture, Schopper said, “Well, I’ve practiced my wave,” followed by a big laugh. “This is so fun.”

Another Terre Haute resident could not contain his excitement upon hearing that he is also in the film.

After walking down the red carpet and taking a photo with Tanoos, Doug Sloan, a computer instructor at Ivy Tech Community College, was told that a scene at M. Mogger’s Brewery restaurant — where he played the role of a customer — was part of the final version of the film. Sloan can apparently be seen reacting after Debs got up on a chair and shouted, “I’m not a communist!”

“I’m so pumped!” Sloan said at the premiere.

Another extra, John Thompson, was unsure whether he is in the film or not. He felt “a little nervous,” he said.

Thompson played a man reading a newspaper and drinking coffee at Coffee Grounds in one scene and a Debs’ staff member in another. Just like other movie extras, he spent many hours filming with the crew.

But it was something he truly wanted to participate in.

“It’s a once in a lifetime experience,” Thompson said.

Thompson was accompanied to the premiere by a friend, Jaime Coleman, who was excited for and supportive of him.

“I think it’s really exciting for Terre Haute and for him [Thompson],” Coleman said.

Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or dianne.powell@trib star.com.

 

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