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Covington native pens television movie

COVINGTON - It's always nice when a hometown boy makes good, and for Frank Sharp, that moment has arrived.

Sharp, the son of Covington residents Homer and Ruby Rae Sharp, is the writer of "Lone Rider," a two-hour television movie that will air at 9 p.m. Saturday on ION Television, channel 14 for Charter Communications subscribers.

The movie, a classic western tale, stars Lou Diamond Phillips, veteran actor Stacy Keach and character actors Timothy Bottoms, Mike Starr and Vincent Spano.

Phillips plays Bobby Hattaway, a soldier who returns to his hometown to discover that a corrupt landowner has become the most powerful man in the county and is eying the Hattaway family business. After the villain's strong-arm tactics turn deadly, Hattaway starts fighting back.

Sharp has worked both in front of and behind the camera for the past 20 years, but "Lone Rider" is his first screenplay.

"I was terribly pleased," to learn the movie had been picked up by ION, he said.

The movie was filmed around the Los Angeles area in July and August 2007.

"To have this great cast and be standing there on set on day one and watching actors of that caliber play your scene, it's really tremendously gratifying," he said.

Sharp had his sights set on show business early on. After graduating from Newton High School, he studied drama at the University of Georgia, and then headed to Los Angeles in hopes of becoming an actor.

During the next several years, he took both acting and production jobs. But work wasn't steady, and Sharp eventually joined the Army.

After a four-year stint at Fort Bening, he moved back to L.A. and continued to act and work behind the scenes.

In 2001, Sharp was hired as a full-time post production coordinator by Larry Levinson Productions, which produces original programming for channels such as Hallmark, Lifetime and Spike.

He is also a specialist in background vocals and voice over, having worked on such television shows as "ER" and "The West Wing" and movies like "The Longest Yard."

The idea for "Lone Rider" was floated in production meetings as a modern-day action picture, but Sharp saw it as a western.

He said he was surprised and happy to learn of the talent that would bring his story to life.

"Lou's a terrific actor. He has a lot of credibility in westerns and he's really skillful at what he does. Stacy is an actor I have admired for a long time. He and his brother co-wrote a movie called 'The Long Riders' that was one of the pictures that made me want to work in movies," he said.

On Saturday, Sharp plans to have a small viewing party at his home in Ventura County, where he lives with wife Linda and kids Nik and Ana.

Also watching will be his parents back in Covington.

"We've got the popcorn and everything," said his mother, Ruby Rae.

"We are very proud of him. He's worked really hard, and he's such a nice man. I don't know if that had anything to do with his upbringing, but he is a nice man," she said, laughing.

Sharp still visits Covington regularly - "I am unhappy if I don't get to come back and see the Dawgs play at least once a year," he said - and sometimes finds it hard to believe his good fortune in Hollywood.

"It's still shocking that they let a kid from Covington work on all these movies and actually write one," he said.