- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 13, 2015

CLINTON, Ind. (AP) - A native son of Clinton gladly returned to his Hoosier roots this month to fill a familiar role.

Actor Ken Kercheval will play a doctor in the independent film “The Promise,” a production of Terre Haute-based Dreams Come True Films.

“It’s such a blessing,” said executive producer Candy Beard of working with Kercheval, probably best known for his role as Cliff Barnes on the CBS television series “Dallas.”

Kercheval calls Beard - also a Clinton native - his “hometown girl” and they first worked together in 2012 on a film called “This Promise I Made.” Production problems resulted in that film work being set aside, never to be completed. But Beard still wanted to make a romantic comedy that included Kercheval, her “hometown boy.”

“The Promise” presented that opportunity, and Kercheval arrived in Indiana last week to do one day of filming of his role as Dr. Christopher Webber. He plays a physician who advises a grandfather to take better care of his heart. Some of the scenes were filmed at a local golf course, and other scenes at an area hospital.

Being in a hospital setting was nothing new to Kercheval. His father was a well-known physician in Clinton, and his mother was a registered nurse. Kercheval shared some stories from his youth with the Tribune-Star on Saturday at a cast party at Beard’s residence, and the now 80-year-old grandfather said that he was still a teenager when he first tried his hand at a career in medicine.

“They wouldn’t allow it today,” Kercheval said, “but when I was a teenager, I was in the operating room with my father more than once. I scrubbed up.”

He said he even put two stitches in his sister Kate when she had an appendectomy. Kercheval said he worked for a while at Union Hospital in x-ray, surgery and “emptying bedpans,” but medicine was not his calling. Yet, he got his start on television in 1966, playing the part of Dr. Nick Hunter on the soap opera “Search for Tomorrow.”

Though he has lived in California for decades, Kercheval said he is always eager to return to Indiana, especially in the fall when the leaves are changing color.

“I like Indiana. It’s so familiar. You couldn’t get me lost around here,” he said, standing outside Beard’s home admiring the pleasant fall weather. “It feels right. It’s so familiar to me. The people, the food.”

And of course, his favorite food is an Indiana specialty - pork tenderloin, pounded paper-thin.

Kercheval said he has relied upon his Indiana roots throughout his career. He said he likes to “plagiarize” 1950s humorist Herb Shriner, a Hoosier who said his “home town was so small, I was 9 years old before I realized the name of it wasn’t ‘resume speed’.”

That line came in handy during Kercheval’s appearance on the Merv Griffin television show. Griffin was from a small town in New Jersey, and enjoyed the joke. When Kercheval gave credit to Shriner, Griffin surprised Kercheval by noting the coincidence that one of Shriner’s sons was backstage and would appear on that same show.

Kercheval said he enjoys the homespun Will Rogers-type of humor that gives him the lines, “Chickens today, feathers tomorrow. Monuments today, pigeons tomorrow.”

Beard, who stood by Kercheval as they talked about the movie, said the filming of the movie will occur over several months as they shoot scenes to include the changing seasons. In April, production will ramp up with the project to be completed in August 2016.

“This has been on hold for three years, so now we can make sure we take our time and do it right,” Beard said. Her son Daniel is the director.

According to a synopsis of the movie, written by Beard, “The Promise” tells the story of 20-something Mackenzie, who made a promise to her grandmother Violet just before Grandma passed away. That promise was to always be there for her 75-year-old grandfather and never place him in a nursing home. She also promised that she would never date or marry a man that Grandpa did not approve of. However, when Mackenzie brings her dates home to meet Grandpa, he tries to sabotage her relationships so that Mackenzie will not get married and leave him all alone.

Grandpa is portrayed by Bruce Royer of Terre Haute, while Mackenzie is portrayed by Grace Carlton, also a Terre Haute native.

Royer said his past dramatic experience has come on the stage of Scottish Rite in Terre Haute, where all of the degree work is done in drama form.

At age 25, Carlton has had a lot of theater experience, and recently performed in “Barnum” at the Community Theater of Terre Haute. But “The Promise” is her first film.

“It’s surreal,” she said Saturday. “It didn’t sink in that I would be in a movie until we stared filming last week.”

Beard said she saw Carlton in the cast list for “Barnum” and invited her to audition for the role of Mackenzie. Some of the boyfriends in the film also were in the “Barnum” production.

“I’m so glad I used local people,” Beard said of her cast.

She also shared that she is excited that her movie “Vanished” was selected for entry in the Helios Film Festival in Cincinnati. She was planning to travel to Ohio for that showing today, hoping to bring home an award.

Also in the works is a Nov. 7 showing of two movies by Dreams Come True Films. The premiere of “My Mother’s Replacement” is set for 11 a.m. (Indiana time) at the Paris Theater, followed by the film “Cries Unheard.”

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Source: (Terre Haute) Tribune-Star, https://bit.ly/1jkToL1

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Information from: Tribune-Star, https://www.tribstar.com


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