RAVENNA Filmmaker returns to hometown Film Aberration Boulevard boasts American Splendor star

Donna Alexander Published:

Its turning out to be a busy spring for Cleveland native Toby Radloff. In addition to appearing as himself in HBOs production of American Splendor, Radloff is also appearing in the new film from local filmmaker Wayne Alan Harold, a Ravenna native. American Splendor is based on Cleveland cartoonist Harvey Pekars autobiographical comic book. Pekar, friends, co-workers and family appear in documentary portions of the film as themselves, while actors portray them in slice of life vignettes from the comic book. Actor Paul Giamatti of Howard Sterns Private Parts, and Tim Burtons recent Planet of the Apes remake portrays Pekar in the film. Radloff worked with Pekar at a Veterans Administration hospital for a number of years and has appeared in his comic-book stories, usually talking about how he perceives himself to be a genuine nerd. Radloff also received national attention when he was featured in a number of comedy segments on MTVs Week in Rock news show. An MTV crew came to Cleveland to do a story on Pekar but they were also intrigued by the nerdily-garbed Radloff. Toby appears as himself in the documentary portions of the film. Comedian/actor Judah Friedlander (Showtime, Meet the Parents) portrays Radloff for the remainder of the movie. Splendor recently premiered at Robert Redfords Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah and walked away with the festivals top dramatic honors. The film also had its Cleveland premiere last week to kick off the Cleveland International Film festival. It will hit the theaters nationwide in August and air on HBO toward the end of the year. In the late 80s, Ravenna native Wayne Alan Harold met Radloff at a convention in Cleveland and co-produced many of his MTV segments. A 1983 graduate of Ravenna High School, Harold has been making low-budget films with Radloff for more than a decade. He recently wrote, produced and directed Townies, a dark comedy about a small-town overrun by misfits. They are now shooting Aberration Boulevard, a film about carnival sideshow attractions trying to live normal lives during the off-season winter months. I cant imagine not having Toby in one of my movies, said Wayne. I always start with Toby and just sort of build the rest of the film around him. We have a great working relationship, and hes also a good friend. Harold describes the self-proclaimed Genuine Nerd as a bit eccentric but points out that Toby is a really sharp talented guy with a very unique outlook on life. I had the time of my life at the Sundance premiere of American Splendor, said Radloff, I felt like a real celebrity. In addition to his big screen success, Radloff said that he still enjoys appearing in Harolds lower budgeted films. Wayne is very cool and easy to get along with. Also, since I now have acting down pat, the filming comes easier for me. Aberration Boulevard will shoot in Ravenna and Kent throughout the spring and the film will be released on DVD in December.

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