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Find out how Ed Burns makes a difference supporting independent film and why Ronald Kessler hasn’t given up on selling his Secret Service expose to Hollywood.

By Janet Donovan

Actor Ed Burns makes the scene at “An Evening Celebrating Independent Film & Television.”  (Photo by Janet Donovan)

Actor Ed Burns makes the scene at “An Evening Celebrating Independent Film & Television.” Photo by Janet Donovan

Controversial director and film maker Oliver Stone crossed paths this summer with nice guy Ed Burns. Stone was in town for his latest documentary South of The Border on the epic greed of Wall Street, and Burns was here for his new indie comedy flick Nice Guy Johnny. The two have crossed paths on more than one occasion. “My very first job in the film business was with Oliver Stone,” Burns said. “I was a P.A. on the doors for five days on a shoot in New York. My only contact with Oliver came when I picked him up at JFK to drive him to his hotel in New York. I never got close enough to the action in the next five days. That was it.”

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was among the guests. Photo by Janet Donovan.

Burns was the guest of honor at “An Evening Celebrating Independent Film & Television” hosted by Comcast and Tribeca Enterprises at the Newseum. The laid-back actor strolled into the reception with no intention of taking over the space; instead, he mingled quietly and freely among guests that included “The Newshour’s” Judy Woodruff, Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Clad in casual attire that included jeans and boots, he was incredibly handsome and sans attitude.

Burns had come to talk about independent films and why he has chosen that path over Hollywood blockbusters. “I have been making independent films for over 15 years and this is my ninth,” he said. “In film school, Woody Allen was one of my early gods. What I got from those filmmakers that I didn’t get from Hollywood was that they were personal storytellers. The thing I missed from the multiplex was seeing movies about the people that sounded like me, talked like me, looked like me. That’s how I ended up writing and directing The Brothers McMullen. Independent films are important voices to keep alive.” Nice Guy Johnny will be released in theaters on October 26, 2010

SECRET SERVICE TALES

Even though the hardcover edition hit the New York Times’ bestseller list and the updated paperback version just came out, Hollywood hasn’t been knocking down Ronald Kessler’s door for the rights to his book, “In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect.” He’s not giving up, however, nor should he – especially considering all the brouhaha involving lax security at the now infamous White House state dinner that would certainly spice it up. Perhaps a few tales about the first children could be turned into a hit television mini-series.

Chelsea Clinton was the best first child, according to Secret Service agents I interviewed for my book.” Kessler says. “In my career, Chelsea did it the best,” adds an agent familiar with Miss Clinton’s security. “She treated the detail right, told them what was going on, never gave problems that I knew of.”

“In contrast, Jenna and Barbara Bush would try to lose their agents and would not tell them where or when they were leaving. Jenna would go through red lights trying to evade her agents. She would call her father and complain that agents were following her too closely. Susan Ford and Amy Carter also gave their agents a hard time.”

And the current first children? “Sasha and Malia Obama are among the best behaved offspring of recent presidents, according to Secret Service agents,” the author says.

With any luck, there might be a casting call in Kessler’s future. If so, his wife, movie buff Pamela Kessler, a former Washington Post reporter who wrote “Undercover Washington” about the capital’s spy sites, suggests Tom Hanks as Secret Service director, Shia LaBeouf as a rookie agent, and Terrence Howard as the whistle-blowing leader of the White House detail.

Barbara Bush

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