Upcoming children’s television series has a home-town feel

by Mark Burger

You may not know “The Rusty Bucket Kids Club,” but soon enough you might.

With so many small-screen franchises devoted to kids, teens and tweens, it’s no surprise that a local production would seek to make its own mark in the marketplace.

Studio in the Woods, which is based in New Hill and Apex, has joined forces with Simon Barron Productions (based in Los Angeles) to produce the program, for which executive producers John and Michelle Demers expressly wanted to use such local environs as Apex, New Hill and the New Hope Valley Railway, which figures prominently in the story.

The intent of this live-action, Saturday-morning-type show is to combine historical events with a dash of science-fiction, as the siblings Roxanna and John-Coleman embark on a magical trip back and forth through time. In doing so, they encounter a variety of actual characters from past history and lend them a bit of “futuristic” assistance, if need be — sometimes with humorous results.

Set in the fictitious town of Peak City, the title of the series comes from the old country store, the Rusty Bucket, where the sister and brother work with their crusty but lovable grandfather. To promote the store and the community, they form the Rusty Bucket Kids Club.

“This show represents a new business paradigm that deals with viral marketing for both the 24/7 webisode world and the local broadcast television station episodes,” explained executive producer John Demers in a statement. “‘The Rusty Bucket Kids Club’ promises to provide a wholesome, educational and entertaining alternative to existing programming that targets tweens to teens.”

The series is expected to launch in February 2010.

The cast, a collection of local talent, includes Roxanna Demers as Roxanna Peakssen, John-Coleman Demers as

John-Coleman Peakssen, Irene Santiago as Carlina, Pablo Vega as Rodolfo, Mark Roberts (the host of WRAL-TV’s “Brain Game”) as Nate Weeaver, JC Knowles as the Mayor, Cathy Sewell as Mary Sue Ellen, Claudio Oswald Niedworok, Amber Deelon Rustin, Evan Lopez, Michael Greene, Jacques K. Gilbert, Jess Barbour, Marissa Begin, Chuck Merton, Genie Balmer, Riley the Dog and Charlie Gaddy (former WRAL-TV news anchor) as Grandpa Peakssen, with guest star Scott Taylor as young Abe Lincoln.

For the role of “Steamy,” the production has tapped the New Hope Valley Railways’ Steam Engine No. 17 and Caboose No. 308.

For more information, see or www.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) is of course known for giving out the Academy Awards, but the Academy Foundation of AMPAS is also known for giving out institutional grants to cultural organizations, film festivals and film schools throughout the nation and abroad.

This year, one of those Academy winners is the School of Filmmaking at the UNC School of the Arts, which has been awarded a $10,000 institutional grant to support its film internship program in 2009-’10. This continues the School of Filmmaking’s winning streak, having received nine grants overall and four consecutive ones in support of the film student internships.

In the last three years, some 37 School of Filmmaking students have enjoyed AMPAS internships, receiving a total of $25,000 in support of internships on professional film productions.

Among those productions were George Clooney’s 2008 football comedy Leatherheads, much of which was filmed in the Piedmont Triad region, and the award-winning TNT mystery series “The Closer,” starring Golden Globe Award winner Kyra Sedgwick. Student interns have also worked at post-production houses, talent agencies and various film studios thanks to these endowments.

Thanks to the most recent AMPAS grant, given to the School of Filmmaking during the 2008-’09 school year, students were placed in internships in California, New York, Venice (Italy) and right here in North Carolina.

The Academy Foundation was established in 1968 and has distributed over 600 institutional grants totaling almost $6 million in funding. The program is one of many in the foundation’s cultural and educational wing, which annually grants more than $1 million annually. The foundation also presents the academy’s many screenings and public programs throughout the year.

For more information about UNCSA, check out the official website: www.

Scott’s (Abe Lincoln) Dad & Grandma join in the filming as farm hands. (courtesy photo)