Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Um, that's FRIAR CP now

It is with the deepest humility and the greatest pride that I tell you I have been accepted into the New York City's 105 year-old Friars Club.

After screening my film THE WHOLE TRUTH at the maiden Friars Club International Comedy Film Festival in October, a Friar who loved our film checked out my background and decided I was on of "them."

Before becoming a full time filmmaker, I was a journalist for TV, radio and newspapers - including positions as news director, columnist, commentator, reporter, photographer and editor.

I've also acted in the theater, worked as an acting coach, sung professionally, have done stand up comedy (years ago - I'd share some of my material, but since his assassination, Lincoln jokes just don't sell ...), MC'd many shows and even did a turn as a celebrity auctioneer here and there.

I produced, wrote and directed some 19 short films using all formats (film/video) while I was an acting coach.

Oh yeah, and I yodel.

I have actively supported what Friars have stood for over the years - the freedom to laugh at ourselves and others, particularly those who would try to manipulate or control us. Come to think of it, I was elected class clown when I graduated from high school. This was NOT considered a good thing at the time.

Potential members have to be nominated by two Friars, who must write a short essay about the perspective member's qualifications, character and why s/he would make a good Friar. We nominees then submit an essay as well as personal and professional information plus personal and business references to be vetted by the organization. If approved, we are interviewed individually by a Friar in person at the Friars Club in NYC.

Walking through the Club (a six story building with its own restaurant, gym, meeting rooms of all sizes and some rooms with full bars) is an emotional journey for anyone associated with show business.

Each room is rife with a history that feels personal because so many members are well known - many the most famous performers of the past century including George M. Cohan, Irving Berlin, and just about any movie star you could name. "Behind the scenes" stars that make it all happen are also members - including producers, agents, publicists, athletes, entertainment attorneys, directors, writers and composers.

A familiar large photo of Lucille Ball oversees the Lucille Ball Room; there's also the Ed Sullivan Room, the George Burns Room, the Frank Sinatra Dining Room and many more.

Although I spent several hours in the building with my primary sponsor, I didn't want to take the time away from our conversation to take the hundreds of photos I saw in my head.

I did catch a couple snapshots - one of this hallway near the entryway. I'll shoot the whole place next time I'm there and of course post them here for you to peruse.

My interview was conducted in the Billy Crystal Room by one of the more distinguished members (not sure he'd agree - but it's true); a producer of Curb Your Enthusiasm and successful producer/executive producer for stage, TV and films.

He's watching my feature film THE WHOLE TRUTH and reading one of my books, THE 100% SOLUTION, for background. I'm currently rewriting my problem-solving book with a new title for re-release.

Among the dozens of things we chatted about, we agreed that no matter where we are in the industry's food chain, what makes a Friar is the devotion, discipline, work ethic and passion for our art, craft, work and personal achievements, as well as a generous heart - the desire and willingness to help others.

The Friars motto is Latin for "above all, brotherhood." Which of course is gender inclusive since they voted to admit women several decades ago. In fact, the Club is all-inclusive.

Members come to the smoke-free Club to have a place to relax, work out, hold a meeting, have a drink, dinner, lunch, teach a class. No cash is ever on hand at the club. Whatever is purchased is put on the member's number and the member pays that bill periodically. Friars are friendly and welcoming, knowing that only Friars and their guests are allowed in.

Many long-timers have memorable stories about "back in the day."

The staff is equally as friendly; I met folks who have worked there more than 30 years. I hope someone writes a book about the Friars Club - the place has seen it all.

While there are many senior members - among the most respected in the business, a number of distinguished younger members are also involved.

After our discussion, my interviewer met with the membership committee, sharing his opinion about my nomination and the experience of our conversation.

The membership committee voted to forward my nomination to the full board of directors; the board then voted to make me a member and here I am. - looking forward to traveling to NYC more often, having fun with other members, making the most of my opportunities, offering whatever I can.

It's strange, but for one of the few times in my life, I felt completely at home at the Friars Club them moment I entered. If you're familiar with my background, you know I moved 17 times by the time I was 17 (military brat, me), so it's been difficult over the years to feel genuinely at home anywhere. But at the first film festival reception in October (just two months ago!), I felt I - uncharacteristically - belonged.

When my sponsor approached me a couple days later about wanting to nominate me, I nearly burst into tears.

Needless to say, I was pretty verklempt when I received my official welcoming letters yesterday.

We're checking the membership roster (there are 1,500 Friars) and so far *believe* I am the only Friar living in the Pacific Northwest.

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