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Two Top Directors Pay A Visit To Kansas City
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Reviewed on 2004-08-13
Steven Brill, Director of "Without a Paddle" and E. Elias Merhige, Director of "Suspect Zero" came to Kansas City to promote their new films.

Without a Paddle is an adventure/comedy about three friends who go on an exciting canoe trip. Steven has made many successful films including the Mighty Ducks series. He is a personal friend of Adam Sandler and has worked with him in "Mr. Deeds" and "Little Nicky".

During the interview he indicated Paramount likes to send directors around to support their films. He enjoyed BBQ from Gates and Arthur Bryant's. He feels audiences will like his new film. It has a feeling like Deliverance and headlines 3 young actors with good rapport: Seth Green, Matthew Lillard and Dax Shepard). Seth was picked first and was quiet. Matt was good in the Scooby films and came on board 2nd. Then Dax, was next, a funny improv comedian. These 3 guys made a winning combination. Steven likes a fish out of water story or a trip gone wrong.

These three guys set out to fulfill their boyhood dreams of finding long-lost ransom money somewhere in the Oregon wilderness. They take a canoe trip upriver and everything that can go wrong does. Hunted by two crazed backwoods farmers, they encounter a bear that eats their cell phone, death defying rapids, tree-hugging hippie chicks and an eccentric old mountain man (Burt Reynolds) who may be able to help the boys. Burt Reynolds was picked for some important scenes. He is a funny guy and liked hanging out with the group.

Steven used New Zealand to substitute for the Pacific Northwest. He was lucky to pick up a lot of Peter Jackson's crew after "Lord of the Rings" finished shooting. He was happy the test audiences loved the film. There was a sneak preview at Screenland Theatre while I interviewed him. After Steven finished the interview he stepped next door into the theatre to field questions from the audience.

E. Elias Merhige The other Director who visited Kansas City was E. Elias Merhige touting his new film "Suspect Zero", an unusual psychological thriller about a serial killer being chased by a detective. The film stars Ben Kingsley, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Aaron Eckhart.

Elias said Ben Kingsley was quite a catch and had seen his 1991 work "Begotten". He called from London to see a script for this new film. Remote viewing is an integral part of "Suspect Zero". Elias had read about remote viewing in a science journal and was intrigued by the concept. He was familiar with Stargate in the 1970's, a government funded program, with gifted psychics concerning methodology and how the mind works.

After reworking a script that was sent to him. Elias was ready to go. He chose locations in New Mexico reflecting haunted landscapes. He believes in taking chances and has created a very unusual movie in many respects.

Aaron Eckhart plays the relentless detective; Carrie Anne Moss is his partner. Ben Kingsley has a very central part in this film that has a unique look as we follow the trail of a serial killer. The film reaches an exciting climax in the final chase scene in the New Mexico hills.

Elias was a pleasant interview. He mentioned the great Kansas City Ribs he enjoyed earlier and proudly announced his film would open shortly on 1600 screens.

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