The recent Sundance Film Festival alum written and directed by Jim McKay ("Girls Town") will first air on HBO June 26 at 9 PM (ET). Check your local listings.
Gelber — who sings humorously about race in "Everyone's A Little Bit Racist" in the Tony Award-winning musical — plays the owner-by-inheritance of a Brooklyn diner in the movie who deals with race and gentrification issues when the longstanding neighborhood eatery faces shutdown.
Recent Drowning Crow and upcoming Dracula star Stephen McKinley Henderson (King Hedley II, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Jitney) is also featured in the work with Stephen Axelrod (Grandma Sylvia's Funeral), Ron Butler (Once in a Lifetime), Reg E. Cathey (The Green Bird) and Billöah Greene (Top Dog/Underdog, Philadelphia Theatre Company). Bridget Barkan, Iris Little Thomas and Sydnee Stewart also appear in the cast.
From an idea posed to the filmmaker by author Nelson George (who serves as executive producer), McKay developed a script from workshops with dozens of actors speaking and acting out their racial experiences. In a release, the director-writer expresses his vision, "I hope that people see the film and recognize something of themselves in it," stated McKay. "That saying about walking in someone else's shoes: It's simple, but it's true. For some people, living vicariously through a character in a film is the closest they might get to walking in their shoes. That's the ultimate power of film - giving you a window into another world and allowing you to connect the dots from that world to your own. Hopefully we've done that with 'Everyday People.'"
Shooting took place mainly at Ratner's, on Delancey Street in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, itself a New York fixture. "We would have loved to shoot everything in Brooklyn," says McKay. "But the layout of Ratner's was perfect for the restaurant in our story. And the fact was, Ratner's itself had been a New York City institution just like the fictitious diner in 'Everyday People,' so there was something spiritually resonant about shooting there." The rest of the film was shot in Brooklyn and on the Lower East Side. For more information and further airdates, visit HBO Films online at www.hbo.com/films.