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Former Detroiter visits relationship angst in
Melvin Goes to Dinner.
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Blieden, who spent his younger years
in California before solar energy work
brought his dad to Michigan, had his
bar mitzvah at Temple Beth El, gradu-
ated from Andover High School and
earned a bachelor's degree in English
from the University of Michigan.
After moving to New York City, he
became a production assistant at HBO
and went on to appear on The Daily
Show with a segment that had him
reviewing videos. Blieden decided-to
return to-California and wrote pilots for
TV programs while acting in sitcoms
(King of Queens and Arrested
Development) and commercials.
"I first wrote Melvin Goes to Dinner
as a play, and it was performed for sev-
eral months at a small theater,"
Blieden says. "People involved with the
111 ichael Blieden doesn't
think of himself as reli-
gious, but the four seder
questions did come to
mind while he was writing Melvin Goes
to Dinner, his first produced film.
Blieden's cinema questions, however,
are far from spiritual; rather, they have
to do with relationships of young peo-
ple encountered around a dinner table.
The filmmaker, who lived in
Michigan during his teen and college
years, returns home for a showing and
panel discussion that will benefit the
Michigan Psychoanalytic Foundation
Scholarship Fund. The event begins 1
p.m. Saturday, March 13, at the
Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor. The
panel also will include Russ Collins,
director of the theater, and Dr. Joshua
Ehrlich, an Ann Arbor psychoanalyst
with a special interest in films.
"All the characters are involved in
complicated relationships,” says
Blieden, 32, who developed hiS piece
after experiencing a conversationally
provocative meal with friends. "There
are lots of flashbacks, and the movie
ends when people leave the table."
The film, directed by Bob
Michael Blieden in 'Melvin Goes to
Odenkirk, features Blieden with
Stephanie Courtney, Annabelle
Gurwitch, Matt Price, Maura
Tierney (E.R.), David Cross
stage production thought it would
(Arrested Development) and Jack
make a good film, and it got the atten-
Black (School of Rock).
tion of the director."
It has been seen in 12 cities as part
Nancy Blieden, a Bloomfield Hills
of a small theatrical distribution, will
psychoanalyst, saw her son's work on
be shown on the Sundance Channel
stage and as cinema and decided it
on cable television in spring and soon
would serve as an interesting program
can be purchased on DVD.
for the organization that counts her as
The independent movie has won as a member. She is on the committee
Best American Feature in the
that decides scholarships.
Avignon Film Fest, Best Picture and
"I think Michael has captured the
Best Ensemble in the Phoenix Film
angst of people in their 30s, and I'm
Fest and Best Comedy in the Deep
very proud of him," she says. 'As a
Ellum Film Fest.
mother, I'm really quite in awe of how
"My character is rather anti-social,
he made this all happen." I I
and in a way, Melvin Goes to Dinner is
an open apology to friends who have
known me during some difficult
Melvin Goes to Dinner will be
times," Blieden says. "I came up with
shown and discussed 1-4 p.m.
some of the characters by thinking
Saturday, March 13, at the
about personalities that could make
Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty,
for ideal friends, and the director was
in Ann Arbor. $10-$65. (248)
able to attract some popular actors to
352-5999 or (248) 424-0066.
take on the roles."