Three women known for their work in the television field were among the six honorees inducted Thursday to the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame, reports my fine colleague Michael McNutt:
- Nancy Miller, a nationally and internationally known writer, director and producer of television and film, is perhaps best known for creating and working as the creative force on TNT’s spiritual drama “Saving Grace,” which was set in Oklahoma City, aired from 2007-2010 and earned star Holly Hunter a Golden Globe nomination. Miller’s shows and films typically feature a strong woman lead, and she frequently works Oklahoma names and landmarks into her scripts.
- Ida B. Blackburn began her career in Oklahoma television as “Miss Ida” for the nationally syndicated “Romper Room” in 1958. She became the state’s first Hollywood correspondent in the 1960s. Later she worked in advertising, eventually opening her own agency.
- Terri Watkins is a nationally acclaimed investigative journalist. She has worked diligently to elevate the stature for female reporters to cover hard news.
The other honorees are Elaine Dodd, a pioneer in law enforcement; Lou Kerr, a business woman and advocate for the arts and education; and Linda Haneborg, a marketing consultant and media strategist.
Leon Rippy, who played the down-to-earth angel in the former TNT drama “Saving Grace,” begins his recurring guest-starring role on the cable network’s caper series “Leverage” at 9 p.m. Sunday.
Rippy’s first “Leverage” episode, titled “The Boiler Room Job,” will be the second of two new episodes airing Sunday on TNT. At 8 p.m., Anne Marie Johnson from the TV series “In the Heat of the Night,” guest stars on “The Grave Danger Job” as a charming funeral director with layers of scandalous secrets, according to the “Leverage” Facebook page.
As for Rippy, he won’t be angel this time: He will portray Mr. Latimer, a nemesis for Nate (Oscar winner Timothy Hutton) who sets his sights on the companies taken down by Nate’s crew, lining his pockets with their cash about Nate takes them down, according to TVFanatic.com. Rippy’s Latimer will appear on at least five episodes.
“We’re so lucky to have him, of course, especially for Oklahomans and someone like me. I mean, he played (an angel of) God to a girl in Oklahoma,” said “Leverage” star Christian Kane, who hails from Norman, in a recent phone interview.
“He’s a great actor, and Oklahomans really loved ‘Saving Grace.’ So for him to be able to come and play a role, that’s just great news for us.”
To read more of my interview with Kane, click here.
Rippy won’t be the only guest star on “The Boiler Room Job”: “The Shield”‘s David Rees Snell will play a great conman on the episode, according the “Leverage” Facebook page.
The Oklahoma City-set spiritual/cop drama “Saving Grace” will end its four-season run with back-to-back episodes at 8 and 9 tonight on TNT.
The final season ends with nine episodes. TNT had wanted a full-season order, but Fox Television Studios, which owns the show, declined for budgetary reasons, reports my colleague Mel Bracht.
The series about Grace Hanadarko, a hard-living Oklahoma City detective whose life is transformed by the appearance of a tobacco-chewing guardian angel named Earl (Leon Rippy), has proven to be a rewarding experience for series creator Nancy Miller, who hails from Oklahoma City.
“Ultimately, I’m glad I got to tell these stories,” Miller told The Oklahoman in August 2009. “I got to set a show in Oklahoma City, my hometown, tell the story of Grace Hanadarko and explore God. No one can take that away. I’m thrilled I got three years out of this. I wish we could go on creatively, but I can’t be that mad at Fox, you know? They’re losing money, and it’s a business.
“Now I just want to send Grace out in a great, great way,” she said. “Honor this character, these people and this city.”
Although the series was never shot in Oklahoma, many second unit shots we filmed here for the show. Also, Miller made many references to her home state and town in the show.
After four seasons on TNT, the often-controversial spiritual/cop drama “Saving Grace” will make its series finale Monday night. Created, produced and written by Oklahoma native Nancy Miller, the show centers around Oklahoma City police detective Grace Hanadarko, played by Academy Award winner Holly Hunter.
“We will not soon forget the experience of having an Oscar-winning actress portray an Oklahoma City police officer in a hit national television show created by one of our own,” says Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett in a news release. “We are appreciative to Nancy Miller and the cast and crew of Saving Grace for highlighting Oklahoma City.”
In 2007, “Saving Grace” writers and cast made a trip to Oklahoma City to understand and learn about the city they were portraying onscreen. While here they met with members of the police department, toured various sites around the state, and attended local athletic events. Although the series was never shot in Oklahoma, many second unit shots we filmed here for the show.
“Through ‘Saving Grace,’ Nancy was able to share with a national audience, an updated image of Oklahoma and its culture in a way that has made us proud,” says Jill Simpson, director of the Oklahoma Film & Music Office, in the release.
Saving Grace made its series premiere on July 23, 2007. The ensemble cast includes Leon Rippy, Kenneth Johnson, Bailey Chase, and Gregory Cruz, with Lorraine Toussaint and Laura San Giacomo.
Miller is not a stranger to television drama success. From 1998-2002 she served as creator/executive producer/writer for the Lifetime series “Any Day Now.” From 2002-03, she was executive producer for “CSI Miami.” In 2005, she was executive producer for TNT’s “The Closer.” Most recently she was the recipient of the Gracie Allen Award for Outstanding Producer- Entertainment Series in 2008 for “Saving Grace.”
In 2008 and 2009, Hunter was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series; in 2008 she was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series- Drama; and in 2008, 2009, and 2010 was nominated by the Screen Actors Guild for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series.
“Saving Grace” follows the misadventures of hard-living, hard-drinking Detective Grace Hanadarko who receives visits from an unconventional angel named Earl (Rippy). Earl has been sent to guide Grace to her last chance at redemption.
The final two new episodes of the series will air at 8 and 9 p.m. Monday on TNT.
“Saving Grace” creator Nancy Miller serving has honorary chairwoman of Oklahoma Red Cross fundraiser
“Saving Grace” creator Nancy Miller and actor Leon Rippy will attend Friday’s Operation: Relief, a fundraiser for the American Red Cross of Central Oklahoma. (The Oklahoman Archives photo)
The American Red Cross of Central Oklahoma is inviting supporters to back in time to a 1940s nightclub, where cigarette girls greet guests, swing music fills the air and libations freely flow.
Friday’s Operation: Relief at Oklahoma City’s Skirvin Hilton Hotel is the primary fundraiser for the American Red Cross of Central Oklahoma. Nancy Miller, Oklahoma City-raised creator, writer and executive producer for the TNT cop drama, “Saving Grace” is serving as this year’s honorary chairwoman after her involvement last year had such a positive influence. Returning as event chairwoman this year is Maj. Gen Rita Aragon, who helmed the event in 2009 and was highest bidder for last year’s “Saving Grace” walk-on role.
“We were privileged last year to auction a walk-on role to Nancy’s show. After ‘winning,’ I had the chance to visit quite a bit with Ms. Miller. She knew the impact of the Red Cross on a global and national scale but didn’t realize we are also the organization responding to every family who needs assistance after a house fire,” said Aragon in a news release. “She is dedicated to Oklahoma and wanted to help bring awareness and help raise funds to support our vital mission here locally.”
Miller, a University of Oklahoma graduate, created, wrote and produced “Saving Grace,” which is in its last season on TNT. While on set Gen. Aragon also impressed upon Earl the Angel, played by Leon Rippy, the import of the Red Cross in one of the highest disaster-prone regions of the country. Rippy and his wife will join his Miller at Operation: Relief to see firsthand Red Cross mission in Oklahoma.
This year, entertainment will be provided by the Red Dirt Improv Group, Native American artist Derek “D.G.” Smalling and “upside-down painter” Dana Helms. The event also will include an auction, dinner and dancing set against a 1940’s flair.
“Each year, our Red Cross chapter creates a special event that allows guests to champion our cause, support their friends and neighbors and financial give to the organization dedicated to preventing, preparing for and responding to local emergencies,” said Bob Nelon, board chairman for the American Red Cross of Central Oklahoma, in the release.
Operation: Relief begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, followed by a sit-down dinner. A silent auction runs throughout the evening. The live auction features several big-ticket items, including a set visit to the TV show “CSI: New York.” Lucas Ross, half of the duo “Two Movie Guys,” will be the master of ceremonies.
Proceeds from Operation: Relief benefit the disaster relief and preparedness services of the Red Cross. All assistance provided to disaster victims is free. But to accomplish that, the Red Cross relies completely on donations from the community.
For tickets to Operation: Relief or more information about the event, call the Red Cross at 228-9500 or go online to www.okc.redcross.org.
With the fourth and final season of “Saving Grace” beginning tonight, star Holly Hunter says she has loved her experience on the spiritual/cop drama.
The final, nine-episode season of “Saving Grace” starts at 9 tonight on TNT.
Hunter told The Oklahoman’s TV Editor Penny Soldan that she still adores her often-controversial character, the gutsy, hard-living Detective Grace Hanadarko, an Oklahoma City cop who is visited by a last-chance angel (Leon Rippy) who tries to get her on the path of redemption.
“I’ve loved all the things I’ve gotten to do as Grace that I’ve never gotten to do before,” Hunter told Penny. “Some I don’t want to (reveal) because they’re in the last episodes. But the extremities of her physical life have been fun to play.
“Grace, as a whole, is a character who I adore.”
Counting Season 4’s nine episodes, which wrapped up filming two weeks ago, Hunter has 46 hours of screen time as Grace. She had two hours or less in all her other roles, including her Oscar-winning performance in “The Piano” and her Emmy wins for “Roe vs. Wade” and “The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom.”
For “Saving Grace,” Hunter has earned three Screen Actors Guild nominations, two Emmy nominations, a Gracie Allen Award and a Women in Film Lucy Award.
“I feel that four seasons of ‘Saving Grace’ is a real accomplishment that we are all very proud of,” Hunter told Penny. “And there is one episode right in the middle of the season that is kind of an homage to the entire series that I think fans are going to absolutely love.
“And then we have this finale that lasts perhaps the last four episodes which I think are unexpected and allow us to do interesting things. The ending is exciting for this character.”
In her feature, Penny details some of the storylines for the final season of “Saving Grace” and shares Hunter’s next order of business. To read more, click here.
The final nine episodes of the TNT drama “Saving Grace” begin airing at 9 tonight on the cable channel.
In the series, Oscar winner Holly Hunter (“The Piano”) plays a hard-living Oklahoma City cop regularly visited by an unconventional angel named Earl (Leon Rippy). Earl’s job is to give Hunter’s Detective Grace Hanadarko her last chance at redemption.
Hunter’s performance has earned her two Emmy nominations and three Screen Actors Guild Award nominations.
The show is set but not filmed in Oklahoma City and was created by Oklahoma City-bred writer/producer Nancy Miller.
Miller told The Oklahoman last summer that TNT wanted a new full-season order for the series, but Fox, the show’s studio, declined for budgetary reasons.
“It’s pretty uncommon — it is,” Miller said in an August 2009 phone interview with The Oklahoman’s George Lang. “From a business point of view, Fox feels like it has lost money on the show. The DVDs are not selling, they can’t sell it foreign, and they’ve already lost a lot of money, and they don’t see any of that changing. So to continue would just mean losing more money.”
Despite the negative ink on the show’s balance sheets, Miller said she was surprised by the decision: Generally, if a network requests a full order on a series, the producing studio delivers. But because Fox holds the rights to the series, which debuted in July 2007, there are no options for carrying it to another studio.
In a recent Reuters interview, Hunter talked about what she hopes viewers take away from the often-controversial series.
“I did the series predominantly to ask questions. I really wanted to ask great questions of what it means to be alive. I wanted to explore the confrontations and conflicts that people face in friendships, relationships of love and families and the relationship you have with yourself, and just how difficult that can be. And how hard it is to forgive yourself and how hard it is to forgive others. These are kind of the things I wanted to explore as Grace.”
For the past three years, Oscar winner Holly Hunter (“The Piano”) has played a hard-living Oklahoma City cop regularly visited by an unconventional angel named Earl (Leon Rippy) in the TNT drama series “Saving Grace.”
Hunter’s performance as Detective Grace Hanadarko has earned her two Emmy nominations and three Screen Actors Guild Award nominations.
But Hunter and fans of the show are getting ready to say goodbye to “Saving Grace,” which is set but not filmed in Oklahoma City. The show’s final season begins at 9 p.m. Monday on TNT.
In a Q&A with Reuters, Hunter, 52, talks about what people can expect from the final season and what she will miss about playing Grace.
Q: “Saving Grace” creator, Nancy Miller (who hails from Oklahoma City), has promised that the final nine episodes of the show will be “a wild and exciting ride.” Without spilling the beans, what’s in store for fans this season?
A: “I think it’s great for the writers and actors to know this is the final season. It offers an opportunity to bring the show to a conclusion and it helps with how you’re going to get there. The worst would have been to have the plug pulled and told to pack your stuff and get out. … We had five episodes to really hone how we wanted the show to end and I think it’s going to be exciting and unpredictable for viewers.”
Q: How did you prepare to play an intense, fearless, cynical, sexy cop? Is Detective Grace Hanadarko based on anyone in particular?
A: “I think Grace is part of the imagination. The fact that she is a cop is perfect. She’s there to serve. I think the best police officers are there to serve. That’s their main initiative in wanting to be a police officer and that’s certainly true with Grace.
“But I also believe that Grace likes to live in a slightly dangerous place and being a cop affords her that chance. By nature, she’s a bit of a dangerous women. She’s unpredictable. She likes leading a secret life and she’s ultimately alone. Even though she has a fantastic best friend and she’s a great family member in many ways, I still think she’s a loner at heart.”
Q: What will you miss most about playing Grace?
A: “I love what Grace finds funny. I love the camaraderie with my fellow cops, my fellow cast members, my angel, my best friend. I’ve loved working with this amazing ensemble of actors.”
Click here to read the rest of this interesting interview with Hunter.
People skate around the BOK Center during Skate Date 2009.
Dust off that pair of ice skates—it’s back by popular demand! Tulsa’s BOK Center has announced the return of Skate Date, a Valentine’s Day event that will give Oklahomans another opportunity to take center ice inside the iconic arena and skate beneath a mirrored disco ball.
Skate Date will take place from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday at the BOK Center, 200 S Denver. The public is invited to enjoy ice skating on the 17,000-square-foot frozen floor. A giant disco ball, festive lighting and music will add to the nostalgic ambiance on the ice.
“Skate Date is a rare opportunity to bring the family or a significant other and skate inside the BOK Center on an NHL regulation-sized hockey rink. Last year’s celebration welcomed over 7,500 visitors to the arena for ice skating, delicious concessions and carriage rides. We received so much positive feedback about Skate Date from the community that we decided to bring the event back for an encore in 2010.” Jerry Goldman, assistant general manager, said in a news release.
Skate rentals will be available for $10 per person or $5 for children younger than 3. Patrons who choose to bring their own skates will pay only $5. Guests will be given a color-coded wristband that is valid for 60 minutes of skating time. No reservations are necessary, and there is no admission charge for spectators into the arena.
The event is an enjoyable way for families, children, teenagers and couples to spend the Valentine’s Day holiday. Concession stands will be open, and alcoholic beverages will be available for guests of legal age. The BOK Center’s grand lobby will feature an interactive area for photographs in front of a green screen, face painting, holiday merchandise sales and long-stem roses available for purchase. Outside on Third Street, horse and carriage rides will be offered through the streets of downtown Tulsa from noon to 4 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m.
For more information on Skate Date, go to www.bokcenter.com.
And check back here at BAM’s Blog Friday when I’ll be offering a special list of 14 more Valentine’s Day events happening around the state this weekend.
Nancy Miller and Leon Rippy (Photo by Paul Hellstern/The Oklahoman Archives)
The Oklahoman’s George Lang spoke Friday with Nancy Miller, the Oklahoma City-born creator, executive producer and writer on the TNT drama “Saving Grace,” about the news that the show will end next summer.
Miller told George that TNT wanted another full-season order for the series, but the show’s studio, Fox, declined for fiscal reasons.
Instead, word came down that the show will end next summer with a shorter nine-episode season.
“Saving Grace” is set in Oklahoma City and stars Oscar winner Holly Hunter as Grace Hanadarko, a hard-living police detective who in a moment of crisis asks for God’s help. The answer to her prayer is a rather unusual angel named Earl (Leon Rippy) who is sent to offer Grace her final chance at redemption.
Miller’s ultimate hope – which many of the cast members, including Hunter, also expressed – was for the series to eventually be filmed in Oklahoma instead of Los Angeles. It was a big longshot, and now it will never happen.
Though it was filmed elsewhere, the show incorporated many references to Oklahoma, including OU-Texas-OSU football rivalries, character names taken from Oklahoma town names and Grace’s frequent cravings for a Johnnie’s burger.
Miller told George she would have liked to continue the show beyond 2010 but she’s glad she got to tell the story of Grace.
“Here’s the deal. Ultimately, I’m glad I got to tell these stories,” she told George. “I got to set a show in Oklahoma City, my hometown, tell the story of Grace Hanadarko and explore God. No one can take that away. I’m thrilled I got three years out of this. I wish we could go on creatively, but I can’t be that mad at Fox, you know? They’re losing money, and it’s a business.
“Now I just want to send Grace out in a great, great way,” she said. “Honor this character, these people and this city.”
Click here to read the rest of George’s interview with Miller.