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A Movie Remake and a Passing

Entertainment Briefs

Firth to Make Acting Debut

Production on the remake of the 1978 original film "Ice Castles" has wrapped up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The film, in which U.S. teenager Taylor Firth makes her acting debut in the lead role of Lexi Winston, is being produced by Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group’s (SPWAG) Stage 6™ Films in association with Jaffe/Braunstein Entertainment and Magic Rock Productions.

Along with Firth, who finished 13th at the 2009 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, the film features a cameo role from nine-time U.S. champion, five-time World champion and two-time Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan as well as U.S. figure skater Molly Oberstar (15th at the 2009 U.S. Championships), who plays the part of Winston’s rival. Rounding out the cast is Rob Mayes (American Mall, “Law & Order: SVU”) and Henry Czerny (Pink Panther, Mission Impossible, The Tudors).

"It's exciting to see everything come together for the remake,” Executive Producer Howard Braunstein said. “We couldn't be happier with the casting of Firth and the cameo appearance by the extremely talented Michelle Kwan. I think fans will really embrace this new look on the classic story."

In "Ice Castles," Winston (Firth) is plucked from her first-ever regional competition to train with up-and-coming coach and former Olympic competitor Aiden Reynolds (Morgan Kelly) and is quickly transformed into a teen skating sensation. Unexpectedly, Lexi suffers a serious accident, leaving her blind and curtailing her dream of a professional skating career. A return home to her family reunites her with Nick (Mayes), a love interest who helps her rise again in the skating world.

Sandra Bezic, a five-time Canadian pairs champion with brother Val Bezic (1970-74) and an award-winning choreographer who created programs for Olympic gold medalists Brian Boitano, Kristi Yamaguchi and Tara Lipinski, was hired to choreograph the movie’s skating sequences. Bezic also coached Marlon Brando in the 1990 film "The Freshman."

David Wilson is also working on the movie's choreography.

The film is being directed by Donald Wrye, who helmed the original film, and produced by Michael Mahoney. The executive producers are Braunstein and Michael Jaffe. SPWAG hopes to release the film in time for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

On a Sad Note ...

Billy Chapel died earlier this month. Chapel was a U.S, World Team Member in 1966, star of Ice Capades and numerous TV specials in the 1970s, producer of large-scale Las Vegas ice shows with partner Peter Gordon in the 80s and choreographer for Ice Capades, Rand Enterprises & Productions, Inc. and many others through last year.

"He obviously touched a lot of people in the skating world and will be missed," said Jeb Rand, the president and executive producer of Rand Enterprises, in mid-April. "Billy choreographed more than two dozen of my shows in the past 12 years and more than 150 people have emailed me condolences in the past week."