Donora native Moses takes TV production to new level
By Ron Paglia
Published: Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012, 8:56 p.m.
Opportunity continues to knock loud and clear for Sander/Moses Productions and it carries a distinct Western Pennsylvania and Mon Valley flavor.
“We're definitely excited about what is happening,” Donora native Kim Moses says of the new TV shows she and her husband, Ian Sander, have developed and are creating.
“It's been a non-stop effort by our staff but we wouldn't have it any other way.”
Sander/Moses, now an independent company, recently sold two dramas to ABC and CBS. As they did with the highly successful series “Ghost Whisperer,” the couple will serve as executive producers with these shows:
“Gaslight” is a show that Moses describes as “a lavish soap opera about passion, greed and hope set in a modern steampunk world in which three rival families battle for power and redemption in a re-imagined San Francisco.”
Written and executive produced by feature writer Michael Cooney (“Identity”), the project is being produced by ABC Studios and advances Sander/Moses' affiliation with the studio where the company had a first-look deal for the past eight years.
“Reckless” is a story set in Charleston, S.C., and focuses on “sex and crime that bring together a beautiful northern attorney and a southern city lawyer who struggle to hide their attraction to each other while battling over a police sex scandal that threatens to implode the city,” Moses says. Dana Stevens (“City of Angels”) is the writer and executive producer and CBS TV Studios is producing the drama. The project brings Sander and Moses together again with CBS, which aired “Ghost Whisperer.”
“Ghost Whisperer” enjoyed a successful five-year run on CBS and is now in syndication around the world.
Meanwhile, Moses and Sander are developing four reality shows, two of which have ties to the area.
‘The Big Hurt'
This features former Major League Baseball star Frank Thomas in his quest to balance life as a husband, father and entrepreneur while pitching his Big Hurt Beer brand, working as commentator for the Chicago White Sox broadcasting network and living with his wife and children in Las Vegas.
Big Hurt Beer was created in 2011 by Moses' brother, Jeff Moses, in partnership with Thomas. Jeff Moses, also a Donora native, is owner of Night That Never Ends productions, a festival promotions company in Monterey, Calif., and its parent firm, MBF Company, a distributor and importer/exporter and creator of beer, soda and wine throughout the world.
This also has its roots in Western Pennsylvania. It tells the story of a once bustling industrial (steelmaking) center that turned into a ghost town and is now being reborn and rebuilt in the 21st century, Moses says.
“Anyone who remembers the heydays of the steel industry in the Mon Valley and other areas of Western Pennsylvania can relate to Braddock,” Moses says. “It's a story of survival and revival told throughout the region.”
The other unscripted shows being developed by Sander/Moses are:
• An American version of “Restaurant Behind Bars” (aka “Jailhouse Cook”), a popular reality show in Denmark. Moses and Sander, who acquired exclusive rights to develop and produce the U.S. show, will feature a top chef who establishes a fine-dining restaurant in one of America's toughest prisons and teaches inmates culinary skills they can use when they are released.
• “Sex, Murder and Caviar.” Debra Keane, described as the “caviar queen,” is the central character who, as chief executive officer of California Caviar Company, leads her female staff against multiple challenges in their efforts to bring caviar to the masses.
Sander/Moses, which is represented by United Talent Agency, also owns SLAM, a digital content and distribution company featured on the Internet.
The production company recently relocated from Walt Disney Studios to The Lot, an historic site in Hollywood. Moses says she and her husband transitioned to independent status to “collaborate more freely with all studios, networks and cable outlets.”
“ABC Studios has been wonderfully supportive and we are looking forward to continuing our relationship with them,” Sander says. “We also are looking forward to resuming our collaboration with CBS.”
Moses says Sander/Moses is now headquartered in offices once occupied by legendary film star Mary Pickford.
“Mary Pickford was the first woman to own her own Hollywood studio in 1922,” Moses says. “She partnered with her husband Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, whose office was across the hall from us, and (pioneer film director) D.W. Griffith. Their studio evolved into United Artists Studios and they had much success.”
When Pickford retired, her office — which is now Sander's office — became home to director/producer Francis Ford Coppola at the time he was prepping the film “Apocalypse Now,” Moses says.
“And across the hall, at the same time, was George Lucas, who was working on ‘Star Wars,' ” she says.
“The wooden door to our suite of offices was built by a young finish carpenter named Harrison Ford,” Moses says. “When Lucas saw (Ford) building the door, he asked him to read for the role of Hans Solo in ‘Star Wars' and that's what launched Harrison's acting career.”
Howard Hughes had his office in the building next to the one occupied by Sander/Moses.
“And Douglas Fairbanks had a steam room that still exists in our building,” Moses says, laughing. “He also had a running pit behind the building. Legend has it that he used to walk back there with his assistant, take off his robe and run back and forth in the pit nude to stay in shape and keep his tan toned.”
Moses says she and Sander discovered some “amazing archives photos” of Pickford and others when they moved to The Lot.
“It's a fascinating place,” she says. “There's a lot of history and creative energy here and we hope to add to the legacy.”
Ron Paglia is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
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