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Bits & Pieces: Soesbe's triumph

by: COURTESY OF DOUGLAS SOESBE - Robin Williams (right, with Roberto Aguire) stars in Boulevard, an independent movie about a middle-age married man revealing his secrets. Portland native Douglas Soesbe wrote the script, and he says Williams has been thrilled with the movie.It took years — decades, actually — but Douglas Soesbe now gets to see his dream come true.

The Portland native, a script analyst at NBC Universal in Los Angeles, watched Sunday as the independent film featuring his script, “Boulevard,” made its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, as a spotlight world premiere. It was Soesbe’s first script for a full-length feature film, after writing four others for television.

The film hasn’t been picked up for distribution, yet, but Soesbe doesn’t doubt that it will be picked up. “Boulevard” stars Robin Williams, after all, and the famous actor and comedian gave the film his endorsement. Soesbe read a letter at Tribeca from Williams.

“I still can’t believe it. It’s like I’m in some weird dream,” says Soesbe, 65, who lives in Sherman Oaks, Calif. “Last year, I was all excited, but you never know until it’s finished. Movies get cancelled or run out of money or people have creative differences. Now that it’s done and everybody’s happy with it ... it’s hard to even believe.”

The movie is centered on a middle-age husband in a marriage of convenience who is revealing his secret life.

The film also stars Bob Odenkirk (“Breaking Bad”) and prolific TV/movie actor Kathy Baker (“Picket Fences”). Soesbe worked on the set during filming last year in Nashville, a 21-day sprint that had its share of comedy relief, courtesy of Williams.

“He was in almost every scene, and we shot at night,” Soesbe says. “He said he slept all day with the curtains closed like Elvis. ... When I met him — I’m 6-6 and he started acting like the Hobbit; there’s a picture of the two of us with another actor and he says, ‘Honestly, I’m not standing in a ditch.’ ”

Seriously, Soesbe adds: “He’s very prepared. I would sit by him sometimes going over his lines, and he was very much in character. ... He was one of the nicest people, much different than what you’d expect. We were doing a drama, and he’s extremely smart and knows a lot about everything. He’s a little on the shy side, which is a surprise. There’s not a diva bone in his body. He’s just a wonderful person.”

Soesbe hopes a distributor is signed, soon. The movie will also be shown two other times in New York, and at an American Express function, and Soesbe plans to attend. It’ll also be shown in Nashville.

“I’m happy and proud of the TV stuff I did, but the idea of it showing at movie theaters ... hopefully it gets to Portland, like at the Fox Tower or Living Room Theater,” he says. “It won’t be a huge movie, it’s just not that kind. But, it absolutely could break out. You never know.”

Soesbe grew up in Northeast Portland, frequenting the Laurelhurst and Avalon theaters and reveling in his own home theater. He graduated from Portland State in 1971, and earned a graduate degree in playwriting in 1976. A year later, he moved to L.A.

Zion’s celebration

The Zion Lutheran Church, 1015 S.W. 18th Ave., plans to celebrate its 125th anniversary with some events May 3 and 4 and another in late October. It has a long history, which began with the famous architect Pietro Belluschi designing the current church in 1948 and ‘49. Belluschi actually designed many churches in the Portland area.

The Zion church was incorporated on April 29, 1889. Beginning at 4:30 p.m. May 3, there’ll be: an organ recital and secular music performed by organist Floy Berentsen; Sharon Miles doing a presentation of the architectural features; remarks by Belluschi’s son, Anthony Belluschi; and a catered plate reception. The next day, starting at 11 a.m., there’ll be an anniversary worship service officiated by Pastor Tyrus Miles, focused on the church.