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Fifty Is The New Thirty

If one subscribes to the hype that 50 is the new 30, then a Pandora’s box of complications, mixed signals and confused messages arise. These are some of the themes explored in the insightful comedy ABOUT FIFTY (formerly titled FIFTY-NOTHING) which opened the 2011 edition of the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival on Friday evening. The resonant film is a modern comedy that explores the simple truth that it’s never too late to start over again. Even at age 50. The action centers on two long-time golf-buddies, Adam, going through a trial separation from his wife of 15 years and Jon, who is not only losing work to the ‘young guy’, but also dealing with a ‘generous’ prostate. They decide to take off on a weekend journey to let loose and re-live the Palm Springs get-a-ways of their younger days but meet with unexpected results. Struggling to fit in with the younger crowd, they find surprising comfort through encounters with women nearer their own age. As the weekend progresses, both are forced to come to a truce with middle life’s predicaments.

The film is the sophomore effort of Thomas Johnston, whose debut feature JEROME was released in 2001 following a successful career on the international film festival circuit including screenings at the AFI Los Angeles and Berlin Film Festivals. The film features an attractive cast of familiar faces. Drew Pillsbury, who also wrote the film’s screenplay, has been a working actor for over 25 years, getting his start opposite Griffin Dunne and Madonna in WHO’S THAT GIRL. His next project was the indie film JEROME, which first teamed him with director Thomas Johnston and actress Wendie Malick, who also co-stars in ABOUT FIFTY. The actor then began to find his legs as a screenwriter. His first feature 100 MILE RULE, starring Maria Bello, Jake Weber and Michael McKean, toured the festival circuit, including a stop in Fort Lauderdale. His second film BROKEN, starring Heather Graham, Jeremy Sisto and Tess Harper, made its world premiere at the AFI Film Festival in Los Angeles, eventually being picked up by distributor First Look Studios. ABOUT FIFTY is his third produced film as a screenwriter. Currently he’s working on a television pilot and is in production on Michael Bay’s TRANSFORMERS 3: DARK OF THE MOON. His male co-star Martin Grey Gottlieb has been a working actor in film, television and on the stage, making guest appearances in such films as GHOST WORLD, THE NATURAL and THE CHEROKEE KID, and television staples COLD CASE, CSI: MIAMI, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES and ER. As a writer/director/producer, he made his directorial debut with the original comedy ON AND ON… produced by Showtime. He is currently putting the finishing touches on an original screenplay titled KNUXIE, about a gay baseball player, that was recently optioned by Terra Bella Entertainment. Both Pillsbury and Gottleib will attend the opening night screening in Fort Lauderdale.

Audiences will also recognize the film’s female lead, actress and comedienne Wendie Malick. She received two Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for her role as the sharp-tongued boss in the hit television comedy series JUST SHOOT ME. She also received four Cable Ace Awards for her work on the cult television series DREAM ON. She is currently playing opposite television icon Betty White in the feminist comedy series HOT IN CLEVELAND. In her television career, she has appeared on such iconic series as NYPD BLUE, CSI, SEINFELD, CYBIL, X-FILES, and DYNASTY: THE MINISERIES. Her film credits include a mix of Hollywood and indie projects, including ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE SQUEAKUAL, CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC, THE GOODS, ADVENTURELAND, RACING STRIPES, THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT, JEROME, WAITING, SCROOGED, BUGSY, A LITTLE SEX, THE EMPORER’S NEW GROOVE and MR. MIKE’S MONDO VIDEO. The Opening Night screening of ALMOST FIFTY will be followed by the Festival’s Kick Off Party, to be held at the Sunrise Civic Center. For a complete list of the films and events at this year’s FLIFF, visit:

Sandy Mandelberger, Festival Circuit Editor

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