Wheelmen Mast


Film Roles: "Wheelmen"

Filmed 2001;  Distributor screening held 2002; possible release 2003; Character: Nick Torino

[07 Aug 03] *** Wheelmen website woes -- faulty email links result in lost mail *** -- Wheelmen director Dirk Hagen has passed along some distressing news regarding the Wheelmen website at http://www.wheelmenthemovie.com/ -- seems the "contact us" email generator has been forwarding visitor posts into the electronic abyss.

Mr. Hagen has passed along his sincere apologies and regrets for the loss of these messages, as well as his appreciation and thanks to everyone who has taken the time to write regarding Wheelmen. He has also very kindly authorized us to release a direct email link so that Richard's admirers can resend their questions and comments on Wheelmen.

Mr. Hagen and the folks at STRETCHPIX are particularly interested in seeing what sort of demand there is for the release of Wheelmen, especially in international markets. Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Hagen's asking, so be sure to let him know where you live, and how much you're looking forward to seeing Richard in Wheelmen! Be sure to mention the format you're most interested in, and if you're also interested in buying the film on DVD at some point, be sure to mention that also.

Email link to Wheelmen director Dirk Hagen

[21 May 03] *** "Wheelmen" producer STRETCHPIX  inks International distribution deal with Showcase Entertainment *** According to the latest updates to the Publicity and News pages on the "Wheelmen" website at http://www.wheelmenthemovie.com, Showcase Entertainment is the new International distributor for "Wheelmen." The Showcase Entertainment website at http://showcaseentertainment.com now lists "Wheelmen" in its list of movies and Richard Burgi in its list of stars, along with a movie synopsis and image of the new "Wheelmen" one-sheet seen at left.

New Wheelmen one-sheet posterThe "Wheelmen" website also has a new press release (available on the News page under the Publicity section) as well as a larger version of the new one-sheet poster, which will fill an 8.5" x 11" page when printed on an inkjet printer. The new press release reads as follows:

Wheelmen logoPRESS RELEASE  APRIL 2003

We are pleased to announce that STRETCHPIX has signed with SHOWCASE ENTERTAINMENT for International distribution and representation for the film WHEELMEN.

Domestic distribution of the film is currently being reviewed with various companies.

Further updates will be posted shortly.

[Photo caption for cast group photo in front of limo: A group of limo drivers inadvertently become involved in a crazy attempt to kidnap the Vice President of the United States in Wheelmen]

[15 Mar 03] *** sneak preview screening for the general public in Pasadena, CA -- Monday, March 10th at 10:00am at the Laemmle Playhouse 7 *** Director Dirk Hagen graciously invited the RBFC to the first public screening of "Wheelmen," which was held at the Laemmle Playhouse 7 at 673 East Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena, California  at 10:00 am on Monday, March 10th.

Tickets to the matinee showing cost $5.50 and were available at the theater box office. "Wheelmen" is 93 minutes in length.

(Thanks to Dirk Hagen for the information and the invitation)

[16 Feb 03] *** "Wheelmen" to be represented at the American Film Market for foreign territories; domestic distribution negotiations continue *** In addition to presentation at the AFM, which opens Wednesday, February 19th, "Wheelmen" will be screened for international buyers on Monday, February 24th at the Cineplex Odeon Broadway in Santa Monica.

In addition to its theatrical release format, "Wheelmen" has been video-formatted for eventual television and DVD release.

[15 Feb 03] *** "Wheelmen" still awaiting finalization of distribution arrangements; no word yet on revised release date. ***  -- "Wheelmen," which stars Richard Burgi as former hotshot ambulance driver Nick Torino, is currently awaiting a distribution deal. Once such a deal has been finalized, the movie's release format will be decided and a release date announced.
Richard at Wheelmen screening A cinema screening for potential distributors was held on Thursday, August 22nd 2002 at the Arclight Theaters Complex on Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA. Those invited to attend the screening picked up their tickets at a check-in table set up in front of the movie's trademark Lincoln stretch limousine and, after a chance to "meet and greet" the actors and director, enjoyed refreshments before the movie (and a reception afterwards). After a few introductory words by director Dirk Hagen, "Wheelmen" made its big-screen debut. 
*** Visit the "Wheelmen" official website *** -- The official website for Richard's new movie, "Wheelmen," can be found at http://www.wheelmenthemovie.com/ . The site is informative, interesting, and loaded with information on the film, the characters, the actors, and the production staff.
Richard and Wheelman castmates
Must see items include the gallery of photos (by photographer Jennifer B. Copp) and Quicktime movie clips -- Richard appears several times in both galleries. The Publicity and News pages have been updated and enhanced with both current and previous press releases, an image of the promotional "Wheelmen" poster, a photo and caption from Premiere magazine, and at least one newspaper article on the production. Photos from the August 22nd Arclight Theaters screening are the site's most recent addition.

The "Wheelmen" site includes a detailed press release (see excerpts from the press release, as well as other articles, on our "Wheelmen" page ), which provides a comprehensive guide to the film, characters, actors, and production staff, and a new press release announcing a cinema  screening of "Wheelmen" for potential distributors (below).

Wheelmen poster; get a bigger version at the Wheelmen site FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Henry Eshelman / Catherine Shin
Phone: 310.550.7776
Email: heshelman@bwr-la.com / cshin@bwr-la.com

Indie Film Wraps 19 Day Shoot in Los Angeles and Seeking Distribution

LOS ANGELES, California, August 13, 2002. Wheelmen, a raucous limousine company comedy starring Richard Burgi, Michael Fairman, James Avery and Jason Kravits completed production in Los Angeles during a 19 day shoot and will be screened for distributors on August 22, 2002 at the Arclight Theaters Complex (6360 Sunset Blvd.). The film, directed by Dirk Hagen and produced by John Orland, is a Stretchpix, LLC production, Co-Produced by Lexi Alexander and Robert J. Ulrich , line producer on the production was Gary A. Lowe, production design by Robert E. Hummel, casting by Robert J. Ulrich, costume design by Emmy Taylor and Director of Photography, Don E. FauntLeRoy, A.S.C. and Editor Sherril Schlesinger.

NICK TORINO (Richard Burgi, Fox's "24" and CBS' "The District"), a former ambulance driver, is the acting patron of floundering Los Angeles limousine service, Venture Limousine. In his care are five other 'wheelmen': PAUL (Michael Fairman, "Dharma and Greg" and "The Practice"), a distinguished gentleman and twenty year vet of the limo world, VLADIMIR (Elya Baskin , Air Force One and Moscow On The Hudson), a Russian ex-bodyguard who's traded in his two pack a day cigarette habit for the strange icy goodness of Slurpees. KRISTEN (Lisa Arturo, American Pie II), a 'just one of the guys' sexy woman. RALPH (Adam Biesk, Flight of the Intruder and Meet The Applegates), a potted plant with a Class C license and ANDY COOPER (Greg Lee, "Xena Warrior Princess" and "Dark Angel"), a likeable, happy-go-lucky twenty something who lives every night like a Saturday night, waiting for "The Great Benefactor." Andy is convinced that BERNARD "BARNY" ALBERT TOMLINSON (Rainn Wilson , Almost Famous and Galaxy Quest) is "The Great Benefactor," until it is revealed that he is a paranoid Ex-Secret Service agent attempting to prevent a bizarre kidnapping attempt of the Vice President (James Avery, "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"). Venture Limousine wheelmen have been assigned to the Vice President's motorcade unaware that they will become part of the plot to kidnap him.

As if putting up with his colleagues wasn't enough, Nick comes to work one day and discovers a little boy from his past named ARTHUR (Alexander Gould, Finding Nemo) waiting patiently for him in his office. After noticing several bruises on Arthur's neck, Nick drops the boy off at Social Services where he meets GWEN (Erin Daniels, One Hour Photo), a loving social worker assigned to Arthur's case. Things get complicated as Nick falls for Gwen, and little Arthur feels the rush of jealousy as he too has a crush on her.

[12 Aug 02] *** "Wheelmen" official website is now online *** -- The official website for Richard's new movie, "Wheelmen," is now open for business at  http://www.wheelmenthemovie.com/. The site is informative, interesting, and loaded with information on the film, the characters, the actors, and the production staff.

**UPDATE: "Wheelmen" premiere date pushed back into late Summer or ealy Fall ** -- According to Director Dirk Hagen, post-production work on "Wheelmen" is in the final stages and on schedule for the late Summer or early Fall  release mentioned above. At present, we are expecting "Wheelmen" to premiere on the big screen.

Must see items include the gallery of photos (by photographer Jennifer B. Copp) and Quicktime movie clips -- Richard appears several times in both galleries.

The "Wheelmen" site also includes a detailed press release (excerpted below), which provides a comprehensive guide to the film, characters, actors, and production staff.

Production Information

RB driving limoNick Torino (RICHARD BURGI) is an ambulance driver at the top of his game. Thirty, tall and firmly built, Nick takes the business of saving lives seriously as he races his unit through the busy streets of Los Angeles. Forced to choose between being a responsible driver or saving the life of a pregnant mother, Nick does what he has to do to deliver his passengers to the hospital. Once there, Nick discovers the mother has died moments after giving birth to a baby boy. The moment is a bittersweet one for Nick and he returns to work a minor media celebrity. Unfortunately, he is now labeled a liability by his ambulance company and is unceremoniously fired.

We rediscover Nick six years later as the acting manager of a floundering Los Angeles limousine service. Nick does his best to both run and drive for Venture Limousines with little help from Tony Cavalcante (JACK McGEE), the golf loving, absentee owner. In Nick´s care are five other "wheelmen": Paul (MICHAEL FAIRMAN), a distinguished gentleman and twenty-year veteran of the limo world; Vladimir (ELYA BASKIN), a Russian ex-bodyguard who´s traded in his two-pack-a-day cigarette habit  for the icy goodness of Slurpees; Kristen (LISA ARTURO), a sexy knockout who is nonetheless "just one of the guys"; Ralph (ADAM BIESK), a potted plant with a Class C license; and Andy Cooper (WILLIAM GREGORY LEE). Andy is a likeable, happy-go-lucky twentysomething who lives every night  like a Saturday night. His cavalier work attitude is a constant source of frustration for the controlling Nick. Andy is openly gliding through life waiting for what he calls "The Great Benefactor" - that one special client whose generosity will set Andy up for life.

Erin Daniels, RB, and Alexander GouldAs if putting up with Andy wasn´t enough, Nick comes to work one day and discovers a little boy  named Arthur (ALEXANDER GOULD) patiently waiting for him in his office. Nick is stunned to learn that Arthur is the little boy from his last day as an ambulance driver. After noticing several bruises on Arthur´s neck, Nick drops the boy off at Social Services.

It is there Nick meets Gwen (ERIN DANIELS), a loving social worker previously assigned to Arthur´s case. It seems Arthur´s father has been abusive in the past, which triggered Arthur´s search for Nick to become his surrogate father. Things get complicated as Nick falls for Gwen, and little Arthur feels the rush of jealously as he too has a crush on her.

Back at Venture Limousines Andy has found what he believes to be his ultimate client, and convinces Nick to join him as he picks up Bernard "Barny" Albert Tomlinson (RAINN WILSON). The enigmatic Barny tosses hundred dollar bills at Nick and Andy as if they were confetti. Meanwhile, having been given the "prestige gig" assignment to drive for the Vice President of the United States (JAMES AVERY) motorcade, the other Venture limo drivers are put through rigorous training under the scrutiny of the Secret Service.

Out in the desert, Barny turns out to be more than a handful for Nick and Andy. The man is paranoid, speaks in riddles, prefers being naked and really wants to see the Grand Canyon. In addition, unbeknownst to the trio, two mysterious men are pursuing them. Partway through the trip Nick discovers Arthur has stowed away in the limo. The little boy has been beaten again and Nick makes the decision to let Arthur join in their adventure rather than return the kid immediately to his father.

William Gregory Lee, RB, and Rainn WIlsonIt is not until Barny has seized control of Nick and Andy´s limo, crashing it and stranding them in the desert, that Barny reveals he is in fact an ex-Secret Service agent. According to Barny, the Vice President holds the deciding swing vote in a controversial matter and that there is a plot to kidnap and hypnotize him. Nick and Andy are not convinced by Barny´s story and it is not until they have a run-in with the goons that have been following them that they decide to help. The four of them must now find a way back to Los Angeles in time to thwart the kidnapping attempt of the Vice President as well as warn the other Venture Limousine drivers.

Directed by Dirk Hagen from an original screenplay by William Arance and Mitch Wilson, Wheelmen is a production of Stretch Pix. John Orland is the producer. Lexi Alexander and Robert Ulrich are the co-producers. Gary Lowe is the line producer. The director of photography is Don Fauntleroy, production designer Robert Hummel, costume designer Emmy Taylor, and the editor is Sherril Schlesinger.

About the production...

According to an ancient proverb, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." For Wheelmen, that step was taken seven years ago when producer John Orland (The Bad Pack) gave a script by William L. Arance to his colleague, freelance producer and cinematographer Dirk Hagen. He was instantly intrigued because the world of limousines was new to him. "It introduced a group of eclectic and quirky soul searchers who come together and bond," Hagen says. He was attracted to the tragic yet comedic tone and a storyline that examines human nature and friendship. Hagen´s main challenge, besides the fact that Wheelmen would be his first feature film as a director, was to incorporate a romantic element in a "non-cliched way."

Co-producer Lexi Alexander (Foolproof), whose friendship with Hagen spans nearly the same time as the script´s incubation period, also recognized the story´s assets and the needs of the production. She brought in veteran casting director Robert Ulrich ("Dark Angel," "Melrose Place") to serve as co-producer and create an ensemble of young and old Hollywood. Praising Hagen as a first-time director, Alexander calls him "an actor´s director because he approaches talent like a big brother," guiding the actors but letting them bring their own character back stories, gestures, dialogue and other improvisation to the set.

Venture Limousine crewProduction began in Culver City, on October 10, 2001, shooting for nineteen days. Locations ranged from downtown Los Angeles to Lancaster in the desert. Veteran director of photography Don FauntLeRoy (Jeepers Creepers) was very clear on the look of the film but had to find ways to make shooting inside a limousine interesting, fresh and not claustrophobic. Production designer Robert Hummel (Paper Bullets) enjoyed the challenge of creating quality sets in multiple locations on a modest budget, embracing the mantra of "repaint, reuse and recycle." Costume designer Emmy Taylor (Blue Ridge Fall), outfitting most of the cast in traditionally black limo uniforms, reflected the diverse personalities of the "wheelmen" through their shirts and ties.

The entire cast loved the director´s enthusiasm and welcomed the opportunity to improvise. Rainn Wilson (Almost Famous) was attracted to the script because of the ensemble cast of insane but real people thrown together. Michael Fairman (Mulholland Drive) met with Hagen and Alexander and instantly liked them: "They are good people who allow you to be creative - the mood and tone of the production was positive, there were no egos and everyone had a good time." Greg Lee ("Xena: Warrior Princess") respected the talented crew but found it hard to keep a straight face with all of the comedians in the cast. Richard Burgi ("The Sentinel") sums up the feeling on the set by adding, "Dirk is the glue keeping everyone together and he has a good heart."

**NOTE** -- To read the complete press release, visit the "Wheelmen" website at www.wheelmenthemovie.com/ and go to the Publicity section

(Press Release and images courtesy of the "Wheelmen" website -- photographer: Jennifer B. Copp)

RB and castmates
Wheelmen cast

Richard Burgi 

top row
  • Lisa Arturo
  • Desmond Askew
  • James Avery
  • Elya Baskin
  • Adam Biesk
  • Erin Daniels
  • Dwight Ewell
bottom row
  • Michael Fairman
  • Alexander Gould
  • Eileen Grubba
  • Jason Kravits
  • William Gregory Lee
  • Rainn Wilson

Pics from SFX article[18 Jan 02] *** "Wheelmen" update *** --  Richard's work on "Wheelmen" was finished in time for the holidays, leaving only the post-production work to be completed. According to an article in the February issue (# 87) of the magazine SFX, "Wheelmen" is due to open late Spring 2002.

According to the article, Richard and costar William Gregory Lee play drivers for an LA-based limo service. Rainn Wilson's character -- a former Secret Service agent -- tells them of a plot to assassinate the Vice President to keep him from casting a critical vote. Burgi, Lee, et al have to evade the bad guys and get back to save the day.

PICTURE, TOP LEFT: One of two pictures in the SFX article. Richard is to the left of the car and costar William Gregory Lee is to the right. BOTTOM LEFT: Waiting to film a scene are, L to R, William Gregory Lee, (we assume) Rainn Wilson, and Richard Burgi (leaning in doorway).

Interested in ordering the issue? The distributor for SFX is Futurenet, which has both a website and an email address. The website URL is http://www.futurenet.com/futureonline/magazine.asp and the email address is backissues@futurenet.com

NOTE: There is some question as to the correct issue number for the February edition; either #81 or #87.

(Thanks to Tamy for the information on the SFX article and the picture scans)

To learn more about "Wheelmen" from the viewpoint of Richard's stand-in, Eric Prescott, visit the suite101 website to read "Standing In," an online article by Prescott dated October 17th 2001.

The article URL (which may no longer be functional) is: http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/acting_real_world/82721

(Thanks to MJ for the Prescott article URL)

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