"Law & Order," 9 p.m., NBC. One of the season's best episodes was scheduled during NBC's "green week" in November, then postponed. Now it finally surfaces. A young woman, whose husband is ecology-obsessed, has been killed. The real drama, however, soon centers on a judge (Ned Beatty) and his manipulative clerk (former "ER" star Sherry Stringfield). The result is a smart and involving story, beautifully acted.
Mike Hughes - Honolulu Adviser (Dec 17, 2008)
“Sweet Land” is just that type of movie: sweet. Humorous and touching, it's a glimpse into human nature and the trials immigrants undergo as they venture into a new world, from the grandson who ponders the question of land and his connection to it, to the young German bride arriving in southern Minnesota in 1920 struggling to fit into a community where the memory of World War I is fresh. The movie - which opens tonight in Grand Forks - begins in 2004 with Lars Torvik, who is wondering what he'll do with the family farm when his grandmother, Inge, dies. As the question to sell or to keep the land lingers in Lars' mind, the film travels back in time to when his grandmother traveled from overseas. A rough start When Inge steps off the train, her English consists of American aphorisms (“I could eat a horse”) taken directly from a pocket dictionary she's trying to memorize. She's a stranger to the Midwest. Alone and toting a Victrola, she's one-half of a marriage arranged by the Norwegian parents of young Olaf Torvik, a bachelor farmer.
Her inability to speak English and her lack of immigration papers place a legal hold on tying the knot, but it's the distrust the mainly Norwegian community feels for her Germaness and her differences that prevent marriage. As Inge and Olaf try to track down the necessary paperwork, they begin to know each other through hard work and devotion to land and neighbor. A bond develops and love grows. Veteran actor Ned Beatty, who in the film plays the part of the mortgage-collecting banker, Harmo, said he's glad to see the film opening in Grand Forks. It's been about two years since the camera stopped rolling, and he's made a point of telling everyone he knows to see it, he said. With the film coming to Grand Forks, it might be a little bit easier to get to for some of his friends and neighbors, he said. Beatty, who lives part time in Karlstad, Minn., is known for his performance in “Network,” in which he was nominated for best supporting actor. He's appeared in “Nashville,” “All the President's Men,” “Superman” and “Hear My Song.” This year, he's worked on three films soon to be scheduled for release: “The Walker,” with Woody Harrelson, “Shooter” with Mark Wahlberg and “Charlie Wilson's War” with Tom Hanks. Beatty enjoys singing gospel, playing golf and visiting the grandkids in Grand Forks. He's a standout performer in “Sweet Land,” portraying the skewed money-hungry Harmo. It's through this character and his actions that the community is able to welcome Inge to the fold.
“It's pretty revealing to the character when he forecloses on a farm that is in his family. You kind of get the idea of what his character is,” Beatty said in an interview. A people story First and foremost, the film is about people, he said. “We want to see a story about us, about people,” Beatty said. “Here's a girl who comes from Norway and gets all the way to Minnesota. She doesn't speak a word of English, just German, and people still hated Germans from the first World War. Talk about strength. She's traveled alone and far to marry a guy through an arrangement with his parents. You wonder at the strength for just that, much less what it takes to hold on once she gets there.” That's what makes the film a favorite with Beatty. “This is about people you know,” he said. “I love it. I love what it's about.” And it doesn't matter your background or your history, the relationship that grows between Inge and Olaf transcends language barriers and prejudices. It's something anyone can understand. “One scene summarizes the delicious sense of the movie,” Beatty said. “It's where (Olaf is) sleeping in the barn, and (Inge is) sleeping in the house and there's a sense of tension between them because they are going here and there and trying to get married, but they can't. They get into an argument, and they are talking in German and Norwegian. I love that scene. I love the fact that weknow exactly what they are talking about, even though I don't speak any Norwegian or German.” The entire film, shot in 28 days in 2004, is based on Will Weaver's short story, “A Gravestone Made of Wheat.” It won The Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2005 Hamptons International Film Festival. The lead roles Elizabeth Reaser, who leads the cast as Inge, has appeared in numerous television roles, including parts in “Saved,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and “The Sopranos.” Playing her betrothed is Tim Guinee, who was in “How to Make an American Quilt,” “Ladder 49,” Oliver Stone's “Heaven and Earth” and numerous other films. Alan Cumming from “Romy and Michele's High School Reunion” and “Eyes Wide Shut” plays Olaf's friendly, if not quite business-savvy, neighbor with Alex Kingston from “ER” as his wife and mother to a brood of children. “The performances are wonderful,” Beatty said. “The acting is as good as anything I've ever been in. I am proud. The two leads are good, boy, they are good. I think when people see this movie, they won't have seen anybody like her (Reaser) in quite some time.” And if there's a blizzard to contend with during opening night? Well, with fingers crossed, Beatty said he hopes the weather will hold.“I've been telling everyone to go out and see it,” he said. “I guess the best part is that it should be available on DVD soon.”
By Susanne Nadeau - Grand Forks Herald (Dec 22, 2006)
A Hybrid golf club is often described as a combination of a fairway wood and an iron. Also called utility clubs they tend to resemble enhanced irons or have smaller faces more akin to a fairway wood. Originally marketed towards older players and those of smaller statue, such as the ladies, the hybrid has found it's way into the professional ranks.
Are hybrid golf clubs right for you? Only if you want to make the most of your time on the greens and play your best game. Simply put they offer greater versatility than irons or woods, giving you more options when you reach into the bag.
What do they offer the recreational golfer? To find out a brief telephone interview was conducted with long time actor and golf enthusiast Ned Beatty. On Sunday July 27, 2008 we reached Mr. Beatty after his morning round. Ned was asked his opinion on hybrid golf clubs and quickly answered "Oh yes they are all the rage.".
The actor is now semi-retired living in Minnesota. During the spring or summer he can often be found on the links rain or shine, sometimes accompanied by his wife Sandy. Ned says that the four hybrids in his bag have replaced fairway woods for him altogether. They make it easier to loft the ball and offer excellent control. The hybrids are his go-to club for playing the rough, which Ned admits happens more than he would like.
His wife Sandy is so fond of her hybrids that upon entering her first tournament she had to be reminded that the seventeen clubs in her bag were over the limit allowed.
According to the veteran actor, players he encounters are using the hybrids everywhere. Chipping, playing any kind of obstacle, and even driving. At age 72, Ned believes that his own use of the utility hybrids greatly increase his enjoyment of the game.
Author : Matthew Rizos
Matthew Rizos (Oct 8, 2008)
Ned Beatty, star character actor who now spends his summers in Karlstad Minn. where his wife Sandy is from. Beatty introduces a new CD at a concert in the park in Thief River Falls.
THIEF RIVER FALLS - The genesis to his award-winning 50-year careers as a film, TV and stage actor was a simple and natural talent, Ned Beatty told the 200 folks who came to the city park Thursday evening to hear him sing.
"I talked loud," he said.
That barrel-wide Kentucky-twanged voice that got him noticed during college musicals and entranced a summer's night crowd spread out around the band shell.
"They gave me lines," he said of his start into acting in the 1950s. Despite never being a leading man like his friend Burt Reynolds, Beatty is perhaps the quintessential American character actor of Hollywood.
From playing the at-sea victim of a riverside hillbilly rape in "Deliverance," to a cynical news executive in "Network," a role for which he won an Oscar for best supporting actor, to a bad guy in "Superman," and award-winning stints on TV in "M*A*S*H," "The Rockford Files," and "Homicide," Beatty's broad, expressive face is one of popular culture's most recognizable.
This spring, Beatty, a veteran of more than 200 movie and TV projects, was given the Master of Cinema award at the RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C.
But there's nothing Hollywood about this guy.
Some years ago, he met and married a nurse in California. She started out life as Sandy Johnson in Karlstad, Minn., and since 1998, she and Ned summer in Karlstad where they bought property and built a home and spend half the year.
He wanted to sing before he wanted to act, Beatty said. Acting, especially for character actors, is mostly about telling stories, he's said many times. He stops his music Thursday to tell stories.
Beatty grew up singing in a Disciples of Christ congregation in Louisville, Ky. And early on, he loved the high, lonesome sound of bluegrass gospel, Beatty said.
"As a kid, I really loved the church and what it seemed to be about. I loved that people talked about things in church they would never talk about anywhere else, would bring up subjects they wouldn't bring up anywhere else."
"Poor, Wayfaring Stranger," and "Peace in the Valley," and "Just a Little Talk with Jesus," are songs he's sung since he was a child, said Beatty, who isn't far from being 70.
But recording a CD of country gospel a few months ago in Nashville and releasing it through is own distribution setup is a new thing for the veteran actor.
"I've never done this particular thing before," he said Thursday. "So it's a little loosey-goosey. We're not sure how it's going to go."
Judging by the audience, spread out on benches and on the grass in Floyd B. Olson Memorial Park here, it went just fine.
His backing band Thursday was the Woodpicks, six men from Thief River Falls: Joe Kezar on violin and harmonica; Milo Bellingrud on banjo; Dustin Keller on upright bass; Greg Dally on mandolin and dulcimer; Gene Lunsetter on guitar and his son, Joel, on mandolin.
Kezar owns the music store, where Bellingrud also works and where they all rehearsed Thursday in the basement before the mini-concert in the park.
Beatty may not win a Grammy. His baritone voice's main quality perhaps, is its stentorian drama and he often speaks, rather than sings, the lyrics.
But he knows how to swing into the quartet standard, "Just a Little Talk with Jesus," and how to song-lead, like he was a Kentucky preacher.
"I never liked to sing alone," he said.
With an evangelistic skill, Beatty walked down from the stage to exhort people to sing along.
"If you know it, sing. If you don't know it, sing anyway," he said introducing his only "protest song," as he called it: "Down By The Riverside."
After his concert, Beatty mixed with fans.
"Come over," he said. "I'd love to say hi to you. You don't have to buy anything. I'll sign anything but a small child."
Steve Lee - Grand Forks Herald (Jun 23, 2006)
There are leading men and there are character actors, and Ned Beatty sees himself as the quintessential example of the latter.
The leading man may get the girl, but as a character actor, "you make things happen," he said. "You drive the story on."
Beatty, a veteran of more than 200 film and television projects, received the Master of Cinema award from the 2006 RiverRun International Film Festival at a ceremony held at the Stevens Center last night.
"We really found someone perfect for this year's Master of Cinema," said festival-director Andrew Rodgers, who opened the event.
Prior to Beatty's introduction, a retrospective reel showcased highlights from Beatty's film and television career, including clips from such feature films as Deliverance (1972), Superman (1978), 1941 (1979) and Network (1976) - for which he received an Academy Award as best supporting actor - to notable small-screen appearances on M*A*S*H, The Rockford Files and Homicide, on which he was a regular for the first few seasons.
After a standing ovation from the audience, a smiling Beatty told the audience, "I enjoyed that reel a lot!"
"This is a great honor," Beatty said of the award. "I'm really pleased to be here tonight."
Beatty then sat down for an hour-long chat with Dale Pollock, the executive director of the festival and the outgoing dean of the School of Filmmaking at the N.C. School of the Arts, which presents the annual festival here in Winston-Salem. Throughout the conversation, the actor offered both light-hearted and more serious observations about acting and the film business.
Noting his own "prophet's beard," Beatty won the audience's applause by discussing the 11th and 12th Commandments: "We must care for each other, and we must tell each other the truth as best we can."
Pollock asked Beatty about the many filmmakers he's worked with over a 35-year film career, including John Boorman, Sidney Lumet, Steven Spielberg, screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky and John Huston, with whom he made The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972) and Wise Blood (1979).
Beatty described Huston as "a wondrous man ... it's not like talking to God, but it's so close!" Regarding his debut film, Deliverance (1972), in which his character undergoes an unforgettably vivid sexual assault, Beatty said: "The whole 'Squeal Like a Pig' thing ... came from guess who."
As the audience laughed, he theatrically put his head in his hands and silently pointed to himself, before elaborating how director Boorman encouraged him to improvise the scene with his onscreen tormenter, Bill McKinney.
Although he defined himself as a character actor, "I think I look like a leading man," he joked.
Beatty, who recently released a gospel album titled In the Beginning Was the Word, also returns to the stage periodically.
Having worked almost nonstop in film and television for the past 30 years, he said he finds great satisfaction in revisiting music and live theater, both of which inspired him as a young man to pursue his career.
"I'm going back to things I left behind a long time ago," he said.
Beatty co-stars in Sweet Land, which was screened at this year's festival.
The 2006 RiverRun International Film Festival, which marks its eighth anniversary this year and its fourth since moving to Winston-Salem, will conclude today, with the awards ceremony scheduled for 6 p.m. in the Stevens Center.
Mark Burger (Mar 19, 2006)
A fan meets Ned Beatty on a golf course in Karlstad, Minn. He gushes online about the gentle soul who's contemplating the sunset and enjoying his solitude, and who graciously lets the writer go past him.
"I probably couldn't find my ball," says Beatty. "My eyes started to go a few years back -- it's macular degeneration -- and I can walk forever looking for it. So I have to let everybody play through."
That's Beatty: good-humored, blunt, unwilling to bathe his ego in unearned praise. That honesty has shone through the career that will earn him the Master of Cinema award Saturday at RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem. (Details: www.riverrunfilm.com and related story on page 8E.)
Beatty was in Minnesota in 2004 to shoot "Sweet Land," a drama about Norwegian immigrants that will get its N.C. premiere at RiverRun. But he was most recently in the news when "Network" came out on a double-disc DVD two weeks ago. He earned an Oscar nomination for supporting actor, for his magnificent monologue as a network president who explains the news business to a befuddled anchor.
"I got a mention on TV news recently for that speech, because it (talks about) the way corporations run everything: It's not about anything but money," Beatty says. "We asked Paddy Chayefsky if his screenplay was farce, if we should be sending it up more. `Nope,' he said. `It's all true.' "
The phrase "sending it up" reveals theater roots. When Beatty made his 1972 film debut in "Deliverance," squealing like a pig in the grip of the scariest mountain man on celluloid, he had two decades' worth of stage experience.
"Louisville (Ky.) had no professional theater when I grew up but dozens of theaters. I was working in a butcher shop, and I was at a rehearsal or onstage every night.
"We did plays at a Catholic girls school -- they had to find guys to act, right? -- and the Ursuline nuns directing those shows were the best audience I've ever had. It was mostly about the acting, but also about the girls."
Beatty, who'll be 68 in July, followed the usual 1950s stage-to-screen route. He stepped into the lead in a Kentucky outdoor drama, worked the Southern theater circuit and ended up in Hollywood at 34. He befriended Burt Reynolds and made five movies with him -- including the infamous racing movie "Stroker Ace," shot mostly in Charlotte.
"I kind of enjoyed it," said Beatty, who played a sleazy racing team owner in the 1983 bomb. "I had a `seduction scene' with Loni Anderson that was great fun. Burt was always a good friend, like one of those guys you play high school football with and know the rest of your life."
Their movie paths diverged 20 years ago. Work thinned out for leading man Reynolds; character actor Beatty stayed busy, always trusting his intuition.
"This sounds egotistical, but I would read something and know exactly what I wanted to do when I was playing it. It took me a long time to understand what people were talking about when they spoke about the choices you could make. I always thought, `What choice? Just do it right.'
"A friend gave me Stanislavsky's `An Actor Prepares.' I read it, took it back the next night and told him, `Thanks. Found some good ideas in there.' He told me, `No, it's a lifetime study!' That was funny, because I've seen more actors struggle trying to live up to their studies. I never did that."
Beatty is one of the few older actors regularly getting jobs in youth-conscious show business; his flexible face, resonant voice and stout figure have aged well.
He starred in the acclaimed film "Spring Forward," as a groundskeeper who teaches ex-con Liev Schreiber to embrace life. And he won a Drama Desk award as Big Daddy in the 2003 Broadway revival of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." Of course, he also played U.S. Gen. Ed Sheppard in "Thunderpants," a 2002 British movie about a boy whose ability to break wind helps him become an astronaut.
These days, he golfs a good bit and has just cut a gospel album. (He once thought he might be a preacher, but "I was too crazy for girls." His fourth marriage has been a success.)
"Films make you a little lazy," he says. "If you're doing character parts or a cameo, you make good money, and you don't have to work a whole lot. I love theater, but it's work: six days a week, eight shows a week. At a certain age, you want to get up, have a cup of coffee and go back to bed!"
LAWRENCE TOPPMAN, Movie Critic (Mar 31, 2006)