Monday, November 14, 2011

Wayne Newton Headlines Vegas Independent Film Festival

On Thursday night, west of the Strip, the Vegas Independent Film Festival (VIFF) will kick off at the Century Orleans 18 with a gala screening of the indie thriller 40 West. A big bonus is that one of the bad guys in the movie is played by Wayne Newton, who will be in attendance.

After October screenings in New York City and Lucerne, Switzerland, it's hard to imagine a better place for an indie featuring “Mr. Las Vegas” than a new Sin City event that is attempting to pick up after the much loved CineVegas. The movie was shot in Buxton, Maine, where Newton spent three days playing the part of crime boss Bud Sankey alongside a group of local actors from the area and nearby Boston.


Nearly all of the film's action takes place in a single motel room, where Sankey's fearsome character finally arrives. 40 West was directed by Dana Packard and written, scored by, and co-stars his partner Jennifer Nichole Porter. Together, they also run a small theater in Buxton. Their previous feature, under the banner of Honey Tree Films, was 2003's Mr. Barrington.

In a recent interview on Patty Fantasia's Filmmakers Notebook podcast, Packard explained how they managed to snag Newton:

"An ICM actor was on board for one of Jennifer's other screenplays, and it was that actor's agent that suggested Wayne Newton to us. It took us a few minutes to wrap our heads around the idea, but we quickly decided it was brilliant. The agent submitted the script to Wayne, he loved it, and that was that."
"He showed up as an actor, not as Wayne Newton. He came up working with the likes of Lucille Ball and Jackie Gleason, and he takes his craft very seriously. He was a joy to work with."

The film will have its Maine premiere in Portland on January 19th.

[40 West]

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