A screenplay written by one of Newton County's native sons has been turned into a movie of the week and will be airing this Saturday night on the ION Channel.
Frank Sharp, son of Homer Sharp Jr., authored the screenplay, "Lone Rider," which tells the story of decorated war hero Bob Hattaway, played by Golden Globe nominee Lou Diamond Phillips ("The Triangle").
Hattaway returns to his home in Nevada in the 1880s only to find his hometown riven by a dispute led by the largest landowner in the county and his former best friend, Stu Croaker, who has capitalized on the railroad line coming through town by taking over all of the local businesses - except the Hattaway family's.
According to a synopsis of the film by distributor RHI Entertainment, when Croaker sets his sights on the family business and resorts to lethal tactics to get his way, Bob resolves to defend his family's property no matter the cost.
"Of course this being a western, that town's not going to be big enough for them," said Frank.
This is the first screenplay Frank has written. After working for Larry Levinson Productions for six years in post production, Frank said, based on the strength of fiction samples he had submitted, studio executives asked him if he would be interested in writing a screenplay with the intent that it would be produced into a made-for-television movie.
"We of course are proud of him," said Homer Sharp, a retired professor of biology for Oxford College of Emory University. "We're proud of him for having the courage to go after his [dream]. He wanted to become involved in the acting/entertainment business and he pursued his star and he's paid a lot of dues over the years."
Directed by David Cass, "Lone Rider" also stars Vincent Spano ("Alive") who plays the film's villainous greedy landowner, Stu Croaker and Golden Globe nominee Stacy Keach ("Prison Break") who plays Bob's father.
"I really couldn't be happier with the cast," Frank said. "I've never done anything as gratifying as watching a group of very talented actors shoot the scenes I had written."
Frank said he was on set nearly every day of the 24-day shoot which filmed many scenes at The Walt Disney Company's Golden Oak Ranch near Los Angeles.
Inspiration for the screenplay came from a brief tag line Frank was given by the studio to work off of. After working out an outline with development, Frank said he sat out to "write a movie that I would watch."
The end result was "Lone Rider."
A member of Newton County High School's Class of 1982, Frank went on to study theater and drama at the University of Georgia where he graduated in 1987. From college, he moved directly to Los Angles to pursue an acting career.
"He went to Hollywood with zero contacts," Homer said. "I never had the kind of courage that Frank has had."
After pursuing work as an actor both on stage and in television, Frank says he found his creative niche in post-production with a stint in the Third Ranger Battalion for 4-and-a-half-years sandwiched in between.
Frank said he hopes to write additional screenplays in the future.
"David Cass asked me to work on a screenplay with him on another Western so he and I are collaborating on another one," Frank said. "I'm constantly coming up with ideas."
Frank and his wife, Linda Ljoka, live in the Los Angeles area and have two children, Nik and Ana. He is a founder of the group, Vocal Yokels, which does voice-over dubbing for movies.
"I really have a lot of regard for the people that I work for," Frank said. "I get up in the morning and I look forward to coming to work."
"Lone Rider" will air at 9 p.m. Saturday on the ION Channel which is Channel 14 with Charter Communications.
Larry Levinson Productions produces between 25 and 30 movies of the week a year which can be seen on the Hallmark Channel, Spike and Lifetime Television.