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Award winning producer Harvey Ovshinsky,
who conducts workshops at The Community House, attended the inaugural meeting called to brainstorm ideas for a film-related event. As the discussion seemed to be lacking focus he provided it by noting, "You've got a Michigan legend right here." Thus began many months of pulling together from all over the country the elements that became the Elmore Leonard Literary Arts & Film Festival.
It generated entries in teen short story and screenplay contests and drew nearly 325 people to TCH for panel discussions with national experts and film screenings on each of the two nights preceding the Saturday night Gala.
The Gala was an extraordinary celebration of talent and family. It attracted 190, including 100 for the VIP reception where we met one Leonard fan from Canada, whose VIP Gala ticket was a 50th birthday present from his wife. The Gala program emcee was Ken Calvert,
who mentioned he has been in three Elmore Leonard books. Writer/sports columnist Mike Lupica
began his tribute by admitting "I'm Elmore Leonard's biggest fan." He then declared that regardless of genre "…Leonard is the greatest living American writer ….there will never be another career like his...Elmore Leonard is as unique at what he does as Frank Sinatra was…. The only thing better than reading Elmore Leonard is knowing Elmore Leonard."
The Gala program also featured humorous memories shared by Leonard's sons and two compelling films - a personal tribute by grandson Tim Leonard
and a professional tribute by DMC's Dr. Steve Karageanes,
who is also a writer/director/producer (www.MassEffectProductions.com
). The former about "Goppa" included footage from the days when Leonard and his wife had five young children who are all still really close and were all at the Gala. It was laced with observations like the irony of the macho crime writer being "…the only man I know who smokes Virginia Slims." The latter contained dramatic clips from Leonard films. It focused on the vital elements like dialogue, character, action, Detroit and the women. For the clips, Karageanes said he had to watch 25 movies, which he was able to do thanks to Netflix....continued on page 2