TV minis­eries ‘Diary of a Lu­natic’ be­gins film­ing in Buffalo

The Buffalo News - - SCOREBOARD - By Toni Ru­berto

A new TV minis­eries with Buffalo roots is now film­ing in the city.

“Diary of a Lu­natic,” a fol­low-up to the Buffalo-made movie “Diary of a Lu­natic … Trew’s Calling,” started prin­ci­pal pho­tog­ra­phy on June 24. The pro­duc­tion will shoot six 30-minute episodes here un­til Aug. 2 at such lo­ca­tions as NDs­tu­dios, Buffalo Sem­i­nary, Bid­well Apart­ments and Duende at Silo City.

It is once again writ­ten and di­rected by Greg Rob­bins, a Hol­ly­wood film­maker who now makes Amherst his home. Among those re­turn­ing to Buffalo are pro­ducer Kim­ber East­wood (daugh­ter of Academy Award-win­ner Clint East­wood) and ac­tors Kevin Size­more (“Fear the Walk­ing Dead” and “Res­ur­rec­tion”) and Or­chard Park na­tive Tracey B. Wil­son (“Guid­ing Light,” “All My Chil­dren”).

Join­ing them are Eddie Mekka (Carmine on “Lav­erne & Shirley”), Muse Wat­son (”NCIS,” “The Avengers”), Yancy But­ler (”Witch­blade,” “As the World Turns”), Cyn­thia Rothrock (“Cool Cat Kids Su­per­hero”) and Melody Nar­done, a name fa­mil­iar to Buf­falo­ni­ans from her time as a DJ on Mix 96.

“It’s a fan­tasy, but it’s also a great story about overcoming ad­ver­sity,” said Nar­done, who is ex­cited that her daugh­ter, Am­ber Van­der­bush, plays a younger ver­sion of her­self in the se­ries.

The orig­i­nal fea­ture film, made in Buffalo in 2015, is about a woman named Trew (played by Wil­son) who re­ceives a visit from the Almighty (Size­more) and is asked to write down ev­ery­thing he says. The film also starred vet­eran ac­tress Lee Meri­wether and Brooke Elliott (“Drop Dead Diva”).

The new minis­eries, slated for re­lease on high-pro­file stream­ing ser­vices, is part of a fran­chise Rob­bins cre­ated with writer and pro­ducer Maha Gue­mei that also in­cludes the orig­i­nal film (which acts as a pre­quel to the story) and the 2018 minis­eries “Dream­fac­tory.” The projects are in­ter­twined with the same char­ac­ters, while adding new ones, Rob­bins said. In this new fan­tasy/com­edy se­ries, ev­ery­one has an al­ter ego in a par­al­lel uni­verse but when the bound­aries start to dis­ap­pear, the al­ter egos es­cape and at­tach to the wrong peo­ple. As ex­pected, chaos en­sues.

The idea to film here again was a no-brainer for Rob­bins,

who moved with his fam­ily to the Buffalo area nine years ago af­ter com­ing here tem­po­rar­ily for work. “Ev­ery­one was re­ally kind to us and we found a home here,” he said. “And we’ve built quite a film com­mu­nity here. I’m work­ing with the same di­rec­tor of pho­tog­ra­phy, the same crew, same hair and makeup peo­ple. We are a great big film fam­ily.”

When he is fin­ished with this orig­i­nal batch of six episodes for the new se­ries, Rob­bins said it’s not the end of the “Diary of a Lu­natic” fran­chise. He has much more story to tell and would like to do that in the episodic format. “Week af­ter week you can tell a rich story that you can’t do with a fea­ture film,” Rob­bins said. And telling a good story is why he’s a film­maker.

“We do this to tell good sto­ries. I like to en­hance lives even if it is just for half an hour a week. We can do it if we try – and these char­ac­ters do it. I also like to have peo­ple feel good about them­selves and that’s the most im­por­tant as­pect of what we do.”

Sharon Can­til­lon/Buffalo News

Matthew Nar­done gives in­struc­tions dur­ing Fri­day’s film­ing of “Diary of a Lu­natic” at Buffalo Sem­i­nary.

Sharon Can­til­lon/Buffalo News

Dis­cussing the “Diary of a Lu­natic” script are, from left, lo­cal ac­tor Melody Nar­done, Kim­berly East­wood, one of the pro­duc­ers, and ac­tor Tracey B. Wil­son.

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