Allison Anders said she was just as surprised as everyone else in her hometown when she read a description of her scripts for a pilot of a television show to be called “Ashland.”
“It was called a small mining town. I don’t know where that came from,” said Anders on Friday, sitting at the Grayson Gallery a few hours before a reception in her honor that evening. To clarify, Anders said she is well aware of Ashland’s history as “an industrial town” founded (at least partially) by the ancestors of actor Ed Norton.
Ashland, she said, is “a pilot in development,” for AMC and still has a long way to go before hitting local screens.
“Right now, it is just a script,” she said. “We are very hopeful.”
Anders, who grew up along 29th Street and has several generations of local natives on both sides of her family, said she included Ashland in practically everything she’s written since attending film school at UCLA. A member of the first integrated classes at Wiley Elementary, Anders said the script that earned her a Sam Goldwyn Screenwriting Award included characters such as “Tink,” based on a local bootlegger who also sold blues records, and others based on her dad and aunts.
Her script for “Ashland” evolved after Anders learned three of the “Hollywood 10” writers who were blacklisted for their alleged communist ties, served time at the Federal Correctional Institute at Summit.
“It is set in 1950. Basically a woman comes to town with her kids. She’s obviously an outsider and well-to-do, but living in a 100- year-old cabin and nobody knows why she’s in town,” Anders said, adding she became fascinated with questions about the situation, such as: Did the jailed writer’s families ever visit Ashland, or What would happen if one of them stayed?”
The award-winning writer and director said she began thinking about the impact this town would have upon an outsider, and the outsider’s influence on the town. The son of author Dalton Trumbo (who wrote the anti-war novel “Johnny Got His Gun”) is said to have visited Ashland and encountered a segregated movie theater, she said, although details of that story don’t seem to match up with local history.
Anders was in Grayson this weekend for a screenwriting workshop at the Grayson Gallery on Saturday, hosted by her cousin and childhood companion Dan Click. The workshop was sponsored by an artist enrichment grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2651.