Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

March 11, 2012

Princeton native Kevin Sizemore returns to W.Va. to star in ‘Random Acts of Christmas’

WHEELING — An actor with an impressive list of screen credits has joined a team of filmmakers who are swimming against the mainstream of popular movie-making to create projects that a grandfather can take his granddaughter to see. Princeton native, Kevin Sizemore, got the opportunity to return home to West Virginia to star in “Random Acts of Christmas,” a movie by Route 40 Films/Flyover Productions.

J.W. Myers, one of the principle partners in Route 40 Films, directed 2011’s “Doughboy,” a film that earned positive critical response in limited, statewide release last summer. Myers, working with his Route 40 partner, Ty DeMartino’s screenplay, is now directing “Random Acts of Christmas.” “Doughboy” was set in Moundsville and filmed during an 18-day stretch in March 2011. The cast and crew for “Random Acts of Christmas” assembled a little further up the Ohio River from Moundsville. Filming began on March 3, in Wheeling, with plans to wrap on March 21.

“Route 40 Films is dedicated to producing family films,” Myers said last week during a telephone interview from a cabin at Oglebay Park. “Ty and I think we can make family films and still tell an entertaining story ... A story that moves you.

“I’m a big fan of Hollywood,” he said. “I like the movies, but I have young children myself and I can’t take them to see a lot of the films being made now. I think there are a lot of people like that. Working with our partner, Flyover Productions, hopefully we will be able to keep telling stories that grandfathers can take their granddaughters to.”

Route 40 reached out to Sizemore to play one of the lead roles in “Random Acts of Christmas.” Sizemore, 39, is a Princeton native and veteran actor who has performed in scores of television and movie projects. He graduated from Princeton Senior High School in 1990, and after a brief try at a career in music, he headed in a new direction, and started honing his talents as an actor. Sizemore graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, searched for work in six different states, and eventually wound up at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and has had steady acting work ever since.

“I can’t say enough about Kevin. He’s a good human being,” Myers said. “We had mutual friends. My wife knew him, and when this role came up, she encouraged me to contact him.

“He is a positive person,” Myers said of Sizemore. “He is a very emotionally available actor. When you’re shooting a movie in just 18 days, it’s hard work moving from one scene to another. We just shot a funeral scene, and Kevin gave an emotionally powerful performance. We went from that scene into a more relaxed moment and Kevin made the transition with ease. That shows the talent of a good actor.”

Sizemore has had a lot of work perfecting his craft. He has 44 acting credits from appearing on shows including “Matlock,” in 1994, “Frazier” in 1997, “JAG” in 2001, “CSI: Miami” in 2002, along with recurring roles in “NCIS,” Marine Sgt. William Moore, “24,” Brown in four episodes, and “Prison Break,” where he played Harlan in four episodes.

“I was watching ‘24’ at home one night and yelled out to my wife, Gina, to come into the living room Kevin Sizemore’s on TV,” Timm Boggess said. “‘24’ was one on my favorite shows, and I couldn’t believe I was seeing someone I knew since we were kids together growing up in Princeton on my favorite show.”

In recent years, Sizemore has been working in motion pictures including a role as a NASA engineer in “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” (2011). He recently completed his work in “Red Line,” (2011), now in post production. Sizemore is among the four leads in the movie that stars Nicole Gale Anderson, John Billingsley and Kunal Sharma.

All the while, however, Sizemore had been searching for a project that would bring him back to his Mountain State home. “I had tears in my eyes when we crossed the state line (on Friday, March 2) coming into Wheeling,” Sizemore said during a telephone interview from the “Random Acts” set. “I’m just tickled to death being here in West Virginia. When J.W. contacted me about the project, I almost said yes right then. Once I read the script I was in. It’s a great, great script.”

He said that “Random Acts of Christmas” is a movie about a man who is married to a loving wife and has three children, but he loses it all. “The movie is told from the perspective of a little 7-year-old girl,” Sizemore said. “The best thing that the director (Myers) did was, during the second day, he took us — the George family — all out to different places where we took pictures to hang in the house. We went to the ski slopes and then to a pool. After being together all day with cast members, one of the two little girls in the movie told me she thought she could trust me. I just cant tell you how much that meant to me.”

Sizemore is married to Gina Lombardi, a journalist and host of “Fit Nation” on the Discovery Channel. Kevin and Gina have one son, Gunnar, who celebrated his 7th birthday in January. “The people of Wheeling have opened their arms up to welcome us,” Sizemore said. “It’s been a great experience.”

Myers, 44, and DeMartino, 43, were classmates at Frostburg State College and both tried out for the same role in a production the college was staging. “Ty got the role, and I have never let him live it down,” Myers said. “I’m the director now, so I added a little part for me to play in this movie. That will get him back.”

The Route 40 partners were friends growing up on U.S. Route 40, the old National Pike, in Frostburg, Md., so the name of their film company was a natural. “Route 40 ends near Park City, Utah,” Myers said. “That’s the home of the Sundance Film Festival, and it’s where we want to get to some day with our films.”

DeMartino said that Route 40 Films wanted to do a Christmas movie, so they worked on the idea of when a person performs an act of kindness, expecting nothing in return, that kindness can be returned when it’s least expected. “I think that it’s a tale that never goes out of style,” DeMartino said during a telephone interview. “We’re so pleased to have many of the same crew members with us who worked on ‘Doughboy,’ and we’re pleased to have Kevin and the rest of the cast with us.

“Debbie Myers, J.W.’s wife, knew Kevin. After he got together with J.W., for lunch and we found out he was from West Virginia, everything fell into place,” DeMartino said. “West Virginia has beautiful scenery, four seasons and friendly people. We have a small cast, and they seem to have formed a quick bond.”

DeMartino said that growing up in the western panhandle of Maryland, he and Myers were very familiar with the beauty and the people of West Virginia. “We try to show that aspect of West Virginia in our movies. From where I lived in Maryland, I could see Keyser,” DeMartino said. “When I got out of college, I worked at the Keyser Tribune for a while until I got a job in public relations.

“Back in the ‘90s, I even won a Better Newspaper Contest award from the West Virginia Press Association,” he said. “I have it hanging in my office. I’ve always wondered why they call it the Better Newspaper Contest, and not the Best.” He said that he had already left the newspaper and was working at his PR job when he won the award.

Kristen Seibert, with Flyover Films is the executive producer on “Random Acts of Christmas.” She also worked with Route 40 on “Doughboy,” and is convinced that this new movie will give viewers an uplifting experience in the manner of the Jimmy Stewart classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Perhaps coincidentally, Stewart was a native of Indiana, Pa., a southwestern Pennsylvania town about 30 miles north of where U.S. Route 40 travels through the Keystone State.

“I am so excited about our project,” Seibert said. “This is a movie that parents and grandparents can take their children and grandchildren to see. We’re hoping to release it at Christmas. That will give ‘Random Acts of Christmas’ the feel of ‘It’s A Wonderful Life.’ We hope people will relate to it.”

Seibert, a California native whose husband is from Wheeling, said the 18-day shooting scheduled is true to the independent film style, but she noted that the professionalism of the actors and the “unbelievable crew,” combine to make the project special.

“Kevin has been an amazing addition to the cast,” she said. “We didn’t know him personally until he got here, but he is the nicest guy.”

Seibert said that despite the direction Hollywood films have gone in recent decades, she said Flyover is “extremely comfortable” with making movies that the entire family can watch together. “A lot of people aren’t going to the movies because they aren’t comfortable with what they see. We’re comfortable in the movies Flyover makes with Route 40. With the technology today, you can produce a high quality movie with a small crew and cast.”

Sizemore said that he has been thrilled by so many people from West Virginia — even from Princeton — who are traveling to Wheeling just to be extras on “Random Acts of Christmas.” He encouraged people to seek it out on Facebook, “like” it and follow the movie from filming to release.

Myers said that “Doughboy’s” release to 500 screens is scheduled for mid-August.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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