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The TV stars to look for in the movie 'Marshall'

I highly recommend "Marshall," the movie about NAACP lawyer and future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, which I saw a few weekends ago at the North Park Theatre.

It hasn't exactly been a big box office hit. The film with a reported $12 million budget reportedly earned about $8 million through last weekend.

It deserves a much bigger audience and box office take than that.

It's an old-fashioned legal drama and civics lesson that I witnessed at an old-fashioned movie house.

"Marshall," the film about Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall that was shot in Buffalo last year, premiered in front of a select audience on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, at th… 

Some people in the crowd were pointing out certain areas around Buffalo where the film was shot and saying "I know where it is."

I was silently – well, mostly silently -- playing a different game: "I know that actor." Occasionally, I'd whisper to my girlfriend after spotting an actor.

The cast of the film is loaded with TV actors in large and small roles.

Everyone probably knows Sterling K. Brown of "This Is Us." He played the suspect, Joseph Spell, accused of rape by a wealthy woman he worked for, Eleanor Strubing (Kate Hudson).

And I'm guessing a large part of the older audience at the film recognized Dan Stevens, who played hunky Matthew on "Downton Abbey" until – spoiler alert – he tragically died in a car accident. He plays the aristocratic prosecutor, Loren Willis.

But I'm not so sure the older people in the crowd knew many of the other TV actors and actresses.

Some of the cast of "Marshall" filming in Orchard Park.

I'm guessing many filmgoers were saying to themselves: How do I know that actor? Let me be your guide.

Keesha Sharp, who played Marshall's wife, Buster, is one of the supporting actors in one of my favorite guilty pleasures, Fox's "Lethal Weapon."

In "Weapon," she plays a lawyer who is the amused wife of Damon Wayans' comically, childish character in the buddy cop series. She practically steals every scene she is in in "Weapon."

Jussie Smollett, who plays Jamal Lyon on Fox's "Empire," shows up briefly as Langston Hughes, the poet, novelist and playwright.

Maria Squerciati, who plays Kim Burgess on NBC's "Chicago P.D.," has a few scenes in "Marshall" as the wife of Josh Gad's character, attorney Sam Friedman, who reluctantly teams with Marshall to defend Spell. It's a thankless role for Squerciati that certainly is the opposite of the strong female character she plays on TV.

Sophia Bush of "One Tree Hill" and "Chicago P.D." shows up as a sexy girl at a bar who meets Marshall (Chadwick Boseman).

Jeffrey DeMunn, a Buffalo native who an extensive film and TV career that includes "The Walking Dead" and more recently the Showtime series "Billions," plays the doctor who treated Mrs. Strubing.

I am sure I might have missed another TV actor or two in the cast because I can't and don’t watch everything.


I'll admit my feature a few weeks ago on Emmy-winning "Saturday Night Live" producer Lindsay Shookus, a graduate of Williamsville South, was long. But believe it or not, I cut a lot of material from Shookus, who leads a staff of eight who books musical acts and guest hosts and is involved in adding new cast members.

The three new members of this year's cast – Chris Redd, Heidi Gardner and Luke Null – haven't had much to do in the first several episodes this season.

In the interview, I asked Shookus what they will bring to the show.

"Luke is something we didn't have on the show," she said. "A real male presence, something we were missing. He has a beautiful voice. I can't wait for him to show that off."

Lindsay Shookus

She said Gardner was first looked at two years ago.

"The level of improvement is like she is a different person and that is always an incredible find," said Shookus " And her audition is something we quote. It is full of laughs."

From WNY to 'SNL': Lindsay Shookus talks about her roots and her career ... but not her boyfriend

"Chris has a special presence. You'll be able to tell that really quickly with him."

Shookus said her parents, Christine and Robert Shookus, probably come to the program three times a year.

"They love it," she said. "They are full of positivity. They definitely created me and helped me through this job. They love knowing all the behind-the-scenes stuff, the players, the writing, they love being here. My dad loves going backstage. I try not to have him give too many jokes to people."

She laughed when asked her career goal.

"It is hard for me to have time to even think about it," said Shookus, who also was a producer on "30 Rock" and the Adele holiday special. "I love doing the show. There is no better place you could possibly learn than this show…  And sometimes it is hard to even think about what could compare to this. But eventually, I think about trying to create a show with maybe someone I have met here. Eventually something that comes from my brain.

"Right now, I can't imagine having the capacity to come up with something. My brain doesn't have the room. Eventually, maybe once my daughter is in middle school I may have more time."

She said she recently received an email from Peter Sugg, a Williamsville South gym teacher and softball coach.

"I remember saying to the principal the last day my senior year in a very dramatic way that Peter Sugg was the kind of teacher I would remember years down the line, who would influence kids' lives and love what he did and therefore helped kids love what they were doing."

Finally, she laughed again when asked if her placement on the stage behind "SNL" creator Lorne Michaels was planned when the show won an Emmy for best variety sketch series.

"I wish we were that thoughtful," she said.  "In that moment, it is this very strange feeling, everyone is looking at you. You're just nervous and excited. It is an incredible feeling. You're trying to take it all in and be there, present. I couldn’t even hear what Lorne was saying. I was just happy not to trip."




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