Saturday, February 28, 2009
Sony Pictures and Lifetime team up for Rosie O'Donnell's "America"
On Saturday, Feb. 28, 2009, LifeTime TV aired a Sony Pictures Independent film (Canadian funding) “America” written by Rosie O’Donnell and Joyce Eliason (based on a novel by E. R. Frank), directed by Yves Simoneau (DGC), apparently filmed in Detroit.
Rosie plays Dr. Maureen Brennan, a guidance counselor and therapist at a state foster care home for teens, and she gradually bonds with one 17 year old mixed race kid named America (Philip Johnson). America (notice that the work “Eric” is embedded) is faced with aging out of the system at 18, where there is an 80% chance of homelessness and crime. If he gets his GED, the state will help him go to college.
The film tells the backstory, through sepia flashbacks, of how he was removed from his crack-abusing mother (Toya Turner) and sometimes lived with a kindly nanny Mrs. Harper (Ruby Dee). But in time the story takes a dark turn, where another male relative abuses him, and insists on keeping it a “secret.” The script, through metaphor, becomes very graphic in a few places.
America tries to relate to one of the female teens, and finds she has scarred herself, almost like a character from “Wristcutters”. He takes on a “job” as a cook at the center and gets into conflict with Marshall, quite chillingly played by young Logan Huffman.
In the end, the film makes an appeal for adoptive parents. Rosie O’Donnell is well known for her efforts to end the ban on adoption by gays and lesbians in Florida.
Lifetime’s own website for the film is here, and it has an interview with Rosie.