COVINGTON - Gaither Plantation will again be in the Hollywood spotlight this summer, and legendary actors will be performing there.
Writer/director Ken Sagoes has plans to shoot a family drama titled "Between Yesterday and Tomorrow" at Gaither and other Newton County sites. Veteran performers Ruby Dee and Della Reese, along with several well-known character actors, have signed letters of intent to star.
The entire film will be shot in Newton County, with the majority of scenes filmed at Gaither Plantation, and some in downtown Covington, Sagoes said.
It's possible the actors may live at Porterdale Mill Lofts during the six-week shoot, he said.
The film is a modern-day story of two brothers and their wives reuniting after a 50-year separation. The reunion takes place on land purchased by their great-grandparents after the Civil War. Caught in the middle is a young grandson who has problems coming to terms with his older relatives.
"The screenplay has an 'On Golden Pond' feel," Sagoes said. "'Between Yesterday and Tomorrow' is also a contemporary drama with light comedy that will have a wide cross-over appeal."
Sagoes was inspired to write the movie after a conversation with the late actor, director and playwright Ossie Davis, who asked him to write something "for us old-timers to be in," he said.
Davis passed away before the script was complete, but his wife, Ruby Dee, was still interested in starring.
An actress, poet, playwright, screenwriter, journalist and activist, Dee's career has spanned seven decades. Most recently, she was nominated for an Academy Award and received a Screen Actors Guild Award for her role in the 2007 film, "American Gangster."
Other actors who have signed letters of intent to appear in the film include Reese, perhaps best known for her role on the TV series "Touched By An Angel;" veteran character actor Bill Cobbs, who has appeared in more than 100 movies and television shows and was recently seen in "Night at the Museum;" and Loretta Devine, who has appeared in such films as "Crash" and "Dream Girls" and has a recurring role on the hit television series "Grey's Anatomy."
Academy Award nominee Juanita Moore, nominated for the 1959 film "Imitation of Life," has also agreed to come out of retirement to make a special cameo appearance.
"They're all pioneer actors," Sagoes said, adding that the cast has more than 400 hours of performance experience and has received many of the industry's highest awards and nominations.
Sagoes, who was born in Stockbridge and grew up in Atlanta, said he knew Gaither Plantation was the perfect location for his film as soon as he saw it.
"I went out there and fell in love with the place and the people in Covington. It's that old Southern love. They all wrap their arms around you," he said. "New Orleans was fighting to get me to come there, and I could have had the funds to go to New Orleans, but I was dead set on Georgia. I was dead set on coming home."
Sagoes said he plans to bring producers and investors to Covington in June to tour the plantation, which has also been featured in films such as "Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius," and "Madea's Family Reunion." Principal photography on the film is expected to begin in September.
"I think it's important to write a film that I think a family can sit down and watch and enjoy. Those have been the types of movies I've written," he said.
Sagoes is a former staff writer for Paramount Television and has appeared in films and television shows such as "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors;" "Rosewood;" "The Bernie Mac Show;" "The Parkers;" and "What's Happening Now?"
Sagoes won a CableAce Award for writing the Disney film "On Promised Land" and was recently nominated for Best Supporting Actor by the NAACP Theater Awards for Ted Lange's play, "George Washington Boy."
He is also the founder of the Los Angeles-based charity foundation Giving Back Corporation, which pays homage to black entertainment pioneers and provides scholarships for books and supplies to college-bound students.
Crystal Tatum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.