*GMC TV, America’s favorite channel for uplifting music and family entertainment, presents the World Television Premiere Original Movie Trinity Goodheart, starring GrammyR-nominated singer-songwriter Eric Benét in his first dramatic lead role, Erica Gluck (“The Game”) and James Hong (“Kung Fu Panda,” “Zoey 101”).
The network’s first original feature film production, Trinity Goodheart makes its world television premiere on SATURDAY, AUGUST 20th at 9 p.m. ET, with encore telecasts SUNDAY, AUGUST 21st and Monday, 22nd at 9 p.m. ET. The film premiered at the American Black Film Festival in July,
Based on an original screenplay written by Rhonda Baraka (Pastor Brown), Trinity Goodheart is the inspiring and heartwarming story of a smart, independent young girl (Gluck) being raised by her single, free-spirited musician father (Benét).
Finding comfort in creating decorative paper angels that provide inspiration to her and the patrons of Mr. Kwon’s Deli and Bookstore where she and her father work, Trinity begins to make peace with the fact that her unconventional father and her friend and confidant Mr. Kwon (Hong) may be the only family she ever knows.
But when an angel visits and tasks her to find the missing half of a broken heart pendant that once belonged to her long lost mother, Trinity embarks on a mission to find her mom and uncover the truth about her parents’ complicated past.
Discovering both sides of her estranged family are alive and accomplished, but missing a deeper sense of connection and purpose, she attempts to use her charm to encourage them to set aside their differences and come together as a family to bring her mother home.
Trinity Goodheart also stars Mark LaMura (“Something Borrowed,” “One Life to Live,” “As the World Turns”), Jennifer Van Horn (“The Joneses”, “All My Children”), Karen Abercrombie (“Strong Medicine”) and Willie Stratford. The film is executive produced by Rick Eldridge (“The Ultimate Gift”) and directed by Joanne Hock (“Redneck Roots”), marking her feature film directorial debut.
“It really was as if an angel had delivered this story to us,” recalls GMC vice-chairman Brad Siegel. After meeting the Atlanta-based screenwriter at the 2010 American Black Film Festival, GMC executives shared with her the network’s planned strategy of producing original movies. “We told her we were looking for faith-friendly, family-friendly scripts that went beyond the traditional ‘church’ or ‘pastor’ stories and would appeal to a broad audience.” Armed with that knowledge, Baraka sent Siegel almost a dozen two-page treatments, one of which, Trinity Goodheart, was especially appealing to Siegel and his staff.
As it turned out, Trinity Goodheart was Baraka’s first choice for the network as well-and already had a completed script of the film ready to go. “This script seemed to write itself and was just waiting for the right time and the right home. I found that home with GMC” says Baraka.
“We read it and loved it,” recalls Siegel. “It totally embraced the values of our network. It was about good people doing good things, and it was truly multicultural and multigenerational.”
Siegel sent a copy of the script to producer Rick Eldridge, whose credits include the hugely successful faith-friendly television movie “The Ultimate Gift” as well as the feature film “Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius.” “I was reading it on an airplane and finally the guy sitting next to me asked me, ‘Are you okay?'” Eldridge remembers. “I realized I had been wiping tears out of my eyes the whole time. This script spoke to me on such a core level. You can’t help falling in love with the character of Trinity, her vocabulary and her free, easy-going nature. Then, as you get further into the story you sense the broken relationships and her deep desire to find her mother and reunite her family. It’s such an entertaining story with heartfelt moments and really funny moments, but it’s also an inspirational testament to the power of acceptance, forgiveness and love.”
Eldridge came aboard as producer in January 2011, and casting began almost immediately. “From reading the script, the two characters that were easiest to visualize were Jeremy and Trinity,” says Leslie Chesloff, GMC’s executive vice-president of programming. “Jeremy is an African-American guy who is a bohemian artist, with an alternative lifestyle, and for whom material things don’t really matter. Trinity is a precocious, fast-talking, mixed-race 12-year-old.”
One of the first names the filmmakers thought of for the role of Jeremy was singer-songwriter Eric Benét. Siegel, Baraka and Paul Butler, GMC’s head of business affairs, met with Benét backstage after a Valentine’s Day concert. With shooting scheduled for a little more than a month later, Siegel urged Benét to read the script and give him an answer right away. “I said, ‘We really see you for this part. This is a leading role in our first movie and it’s really important to us. I know you haven’t done a lot of acting, but it just feels like you. You need to come back to us quickly and say whether you want to do this and are willing to put everything aside for the next month and a half. If you don’t think you can be Jeremy Goodheart, we’ll move on and no hard feelings.’ He called us Monday night and said ‘I want to do this.'”
What Siegel and his colleagues didn’t know was that Jeremy Goodheart’s story in many ways mirrored the singer’s own life. Benét had been engaged at an early age to a woman who died in a car accident after giving birth to their daughter, leaving Benét to raise the child-now a college sophomore–alone. “I was really amazed how similar this character was to me and how much young Trinity reminded me of my own daughter, India” says Benét. “I could see myself having these conversations and worries and it resonated so deeply that I just had to take the role. It just felt right and I’m very proud of the outcome.”
“The reality of the similarities comes through when you see Eric with Erica together on screen,” observes Siegel. “I think it’s one of the reasons his performance is so good for a first-time lead actor. This isn’t just an R&B guy playing a role. There’s a lot of shared back-story there and the passion comes through.”
In Erica Gluck, the filmmakers found a young actress who also shares some-far less dramatic-life experiences with her onscreen character, Trinity Goodheart. The product of a multiracial marriage and the daughter of a musician, Gluck was eager to take on the role. Says Gluck, “there are a lot of similarities between me and Trinity. I really see myself in her and her in me. Moreover, I see her as a character young people will identify with in terms of who she is and what she goes through to reconnect her family. This film is very inspiring, especially for those who want and need that support in their lives.”
The final piece of the puzzle was finding an actor for the role of Mr. Kwon, a pivotal character in the story who represents extended family and support for the two Goodhearts. The filmmakers were thrilled to cast actor James Hong, “the” quintessential character actor whose credits include hundreds of films and television roles. “He brought so much to the movie,” says director Joanne Hock. “Most of that role was on the page, but he added a whole other dimension to it and it was effortless for him. That kind of intuitiveness comes from years of experience honing his craft. He applies it in this film and the outcome is just fantastic.”
GrammyC-nominated Benét was also able to lend a bit of his own sound to the film. Although he does not perform in the film, two signature songs, “Hurricane” from the 2005 album of the same name, and the never-before-released “Somebody’s Waiting for Me” appear in the film and on the soundtrack. “We found two songs that really spoke to the setting and emotion inherent in the film and we did not have to look far,” says Rick Eldridge. “Eric’s music tied in so perfectly with this film, it was as if they were written especially for it.” Adds Benét, “in my music, I really try to tap into the emotions that certainly I feel, but also that anyone can experience. Music can articulate things in ways that people sometimes cannot express themselves. My character, Jeremy Goodheart, really tries to hold in this feeling of concern and loss until it overwhelms him, just like a hurricane. It’s amazing to me how suitable that song is to underscore what these characters are going through.”
Additional music appearing in the film and on the soundtrack include “Will it Go Round In Circles” by Billy Preston, “Live it Up” by Group 1 Crew and “Let It Go”, performed by up-and-coming local Georgia artist Mandy Gawley. “Rhonda Baraka found this song ‘Let It Go’ and this artist Mandy Gawley and brought her to us here at GMC,” says Brad Siegel. “We instantly fell in love with her song feeling it really served as this wonderful, transitional piece, so we made it our end credit song. It’s a perfect representation of where these characters are by the end of their journey.”
The film’s action is set in Boston and Buffalo, New York, but shooting took place almost entirely on location in Charlotte, North Carolina. Although screenwriter Rhonda Baraka came to the set almost every day of the shoot, seeing the final cut of the movie for the first time was still a happy surprise. “I couldn’t be more thrilled with how the film has turned out,” she says. “Everyone in front of and behind the camera did an incredible job of bringing the story and characters to life.”
Chesloff agrees: “We knew we had a great script; now we have a great movie. We’re extremely pleased with the cast and the quality of the production. We couldn’t ask for a better film for GMC’s first original movie.”
GMC Network Presents a ReelWorks Studios production “TRINITY GOODHEART” starring Eric Benét, Erica Gluck, Mark LaMura, Karen Abercrombie, Jennifer Van Horn, Willie Stratford, and featuring James Hong. Music by Rob Pottorf. Casting by Mitzi Corrigan. Editor is Tim Vogel. Director of Photography is Mark Mervis. Executive Producers are Rick Eldridge and Chris Cates. Screenplay by Rhonda Baraka. Produced by Rick Eldridge. Directed by Joanne Hock.
About The Cast
ERICA GLUCK (Trinity Goodheart)
Thirteen-year-old Erica Gluck is a young rising star best known for the role of Brittany Pitts on the television show “The Game.” Beginning acting at the tender age of four, her young career has included key roles on series such as “Girlfriends” and “Las Vegas,” and appearances in the films “The Santa Clause 3,” “American Son” and “Mirrors” alongside Keifer Sutherland and Paula Patton. Trinity Goodheart represents her first starring role in a feature film. Gluck is a native of Los Angeles, California where she currently resides with her family.
ERIC BENÉT (Jeremy Goodheart)
Eric Benét is a GrammyR-nominated actor, singer and songwriter, whose music is influenced by R&B greats Al Green, Sly Stone, Chaka Kahn and Marvin Gaye. His first professional break came when he joined local group Gerard, in the late ’80s. Since then, Benét has struck gold on the American R&B charts and released albums such as “True to Myself,” “A Day in the Life” and “Love and Life.” He has collaborated with a range of highly respected artists, including Something For The People; Earth, Wind, and Fire; and Wynonna Judd. Benét is currently on tour with his fifth studio album “Lost in Time.” The album’s first single “Sometimes I Cry” reached #1 on the Urban AC Chart. As an actor, he had a recurring role on the series “For Your Love,” “Half & Half” and “Kaya.” Benét is a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and currently resides in Los Angeles.
JAMES HONG (Mr. Kwon)
James Hong’s career in Hollywood has spanned six decades and over 500 film and television roles, including “Blade Runner,” “Wayne’s World 2,” “Big Trouble in Little China,” “Kung Fu Panda,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Bones,” “Chuck” and “Law & Order: SVU.” He is one of the founders of the East-West Players, the oldest Asian-American theatre in Los Angeles. The 82 year old actor is a native of Minneapolis, Minnesota and currently resides in Los Angeles.
About The Director
A graduate of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Joanne Hock is a film producer, cinematographer, writer and director. She has played key behind-the-scenes roles on such films as “Careful What You Wish For,” “Redneck Roots” and “In the Footsteps of Elie Wiesel.” Trinity Goodheart represents her directorial debut. Hock is a native Charlotte, North Carolina where she currently resides.
GMC (www.watchGMCtv.com) is America’s favorite channel for uplifting music and family entertainment. The Parents Television CouncilT recently awarded its Entertainment Seal of ApprovalT to GMC for being “an authentic family-friendly cable network.” GMC is the only television network to receive the highly coveted honor in 2010.
GMC can be seen in nearly 48 million homes on various cable systems around the country, on DIRECTV on channel 338 and on Verizon FiOS on channel 224.
Watch the trailer for “Trinity Goodheart”: