four days of filming for a fee of $500. I cast area theater actors and thoroughly rehearsed them in advance of filming. I hired an established cinematographer who rounded up a camera operator and assistant cameraman just completing filming on Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood in Kansas. The remaining crew came from Cleveland. I owe my career to that crew. We shot the entire film in that bar in four days. That was the beginning of my five and a half-decade jaunt through Tinsel Town and beyond.
Over the years, I’ve written and directed seven feature films, my last Swimming Upstream for the Lifetime Television Network, staring two-time EMMY © winner Michael Moriarty along with Matt Czuchry, Kelly Rutherford, and Elizabeth Harnois. It received the LA Angel City Award for best drama.
I’ve written and produced such award-winning television productions as the 4-hour PBS mini-series The Genocide Factor, hosted by Academy Award © winner, Jon Voight; the MSNBC special For God & Country: A Marine Snipers Story, hosted by NBC’s Lester Holt; the Starz/Encore series The Directors, which paid tribute to 91 motion picture directors including John Frankenheimer (Le Mans) Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan), Gary Marshall (Pretty Woman) Penny Marshall (A League of Their Own) George Lucas (Star Wars), Martin Scorsese (Mean Streets), Richard Donner (Lethal Weapons), James Cameron (Titanic), Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby), Barbara Streisand (Yentl), Milos Forman (One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest), Ron Howard (The Da Vinci Code), Noman Jewison (Moonstruck), Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing), Alan Pakula (Sofie’s Choice), Robert Altman (MASH), and the legendary Robert Wise (The Sound of Music & Westside Story). Over 250 actors, writers, musicians, and producers participated including Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford, Meryl Streep, Brat Pitt, Paul Newman, Julie Andrews, Mel Gibson, Johnny Depp, Burt Reynolds, Al Pacino, Robert de Niro, Morgan Freeman, Jodie Foster, Arnold Swartzenegger, Kirk and Michael Douglas, and Nicole Kidman. The series ran for ten consecutive years on two US cable systems and in over 75 countries around the world.
After retiring in 2006 from active film and TV production, I pursued my life-long ambition to write books. First up were four nonfiction volumes recalling my recollections of interviewing forty-nine of the directors featured on The Directors series including the unedited interviews shot for each of their episodes. Next came my first novel, In the Realm of Eden, a science fiction romp through the universe published under my own name in 2010. In 2017, I released an updated version of that book titled The Autopsy of Planet Earth under the pen name, R. J. Eastwood. It won the Author’s Circle Novel of Excellence Award for Fiction, Reader’s Favorite Award for Fiction, International Review of Books Award, Pulp, Pen Award for best science fiction, and the Book of the Year Award from the internationally broadcast Book Talk Radio.
In December, 2018, I released my third novel titled Midnight Black, a dystopian suspense thriller that won the Reader’s Favorite Award for Fiction. The story takes place in the future, but is based on what is happening in the world today and how it effects a near future society. I revised and updated the book to include the effects of the pandemic and the equal right protests and their effects on a future society. The expanded version will be released in early 2021. And finally, what began as a joke turned into my 2019 publication The Diarrhea Diaries – Trump’s Tweets That Give Us the Runs. It has been on Amazon’s Top Selling 100 Books in the category of Political humor three times since publication. Who would have thought? Unfortunately, Trump’s Tweets are never to be taken as a joke. At present I am working on a new novel titled Parodical Idol.
I’ve always been obsessed by what makes us humans tick. For that reason, I write fiction that delves, often with a jaundiced eye, into the human condition. That demands that I get into my character heads, giving each a well-defined personality that readers can easily relate to. All my novels take place in the future. But then again, I write fiction, so who’s going to prove my predictions wrong?
When not working I can be found in the kitchen preparing Italian dishes thanks to my Sicilian mother who took the time to teach me a few of her tricks. When once I cooked her a meal, she complimented me and said I was a better cook than her. Mother’s lie like that. But thanks mom.
My career as a filmmaker began in 1965 when several business men in Canton, Ohio—where I owned an advertising agency—funded the production of a screenplay I had written. The budget was $32,000.00—a laughable amount for a full-length feature film. I had written a story (One Savage Night) that could be filmed in a single location—a local bar. The idea was to follow a number of bar patrons as they interacted—some violently—during the course of one evening. The owner of a small local bar agreed to close and rent his establishment for