There has already been a flow of national coverage on radio and television concerning the play I FEEL SIN COMIN' ON which will star
MARLA GIBBS, ANNA MARIA HORSFORD, RUTA LEE and
LEON ISAAC KENNEDY, all headliners in film and television.
To: Michael St. John
From: William Alexander (Washington Post)
Michael's World is an extravaganza! "Dances of Remembrance" has that sunny, dreamy, uplifting quality of LeGrand and "Umbrellas of Cherbourg."
House is my kind of biting satire more associated with Nichols and May and
Carol Burnett's old show on a good night...(Modern Family gets in its licks,
but is guilty of often being too contrived.) Not to produce his play "I
Feel Sin Comin' On" is pure ignorance.
Since it is based on the early portion of his book "Hollywood Through the
Back Door" it is full of exciting, dramatic eye-opening moments. It would
be a very exciting feature or mini-series for one of the Cable networks.
Hey, HOLLYWOOD, wake up!
November 19, 2014 10:47 PM
Subject: What a wonderful night.....
I just want to say thank you for a FASCINATING night at the Actors Network, I left compelled to write you as soon as I got home. That was the most riveting hour I have experienced since coming to Los Angeles. Your achievements and endurance in the face of unnamed obstacles is tremendously inspiring. I feel very, very fortunate to have been in your company. I’m honored. I hope that we may be able to stay in touch, I would love a chance to speak with you again.
Sent: Thursday July 23, 2015
Subject: Book "Hollywood Through The Back Door"
E: You are really a remarkable person, so talented and really good.
MARCIA FISHCHBACH -- ATTORNEY AT LAW -- BEVERLY HILLS
A filmmaker's tribute to Michael
Created by: Christopher Cavalier
I FEEL SIN COMIN’ ON
BY MICHAEL ST. JOHN (based on his book, HOLLYWOOD THROUGH THE BACK DOOR)
Charlie Lewis, married to an older woman, father of five children the oldest being a wunderkind commonly referred to as a child prodigy or a remarkable person who is gifted with great talent and ability normally would make a father gloat with pride. But Charlie had his own dreams of becoming a world champion boxer. Failing this and in the eyes of his family and the rest of the world, he has become an embittered man who has turned to alcohol to comfort him in his failure. His wife, Grace Lewis, the glue in this large African-American family has the strength and wisdom her many years of living have earned her. Married to an alcoholic husband it has been her job to guide her five children as they are confronted with prejudice and tragedy in America of 1952; it is her wisdom and love that is the backbone of this work. With its extreme highs and lows and even songs of joy as well as of heartbreak and sadness, we are given a solid foundation on which to build a lasting work of art. Sonny, the eldest child, is the talented wunderkind with a seemingly endless range of remarkable gifts and at his climb to conquer success against so many odds that is the focus of this work. In his final months of high school, though he continues to use his musical and performance skills to open doors and successfully challenge the deeply ingrained prejudice plaguing a young black man in America in this period, he must find a way to face his painful past that continues to haunt him. It is his fight to move forward in spite of the pains he carries with him; he must achieve the lofty dreams that drive him. His anchor is his mother, Grace, who fights for him, who consoles the entire family holding them together when one of its young members is killed. Amidst laughter and tragedy and supported wholeheartedly by his mother, his relationships grow closer even as he must say good-bye – for now, to some of those he loves. After years of covering up pain that leaves him secretly numb inside, he summons the strength to face his father in a final confrontation. He now is free to fully embrace the dreams he holds so dear and to allow himself to begin to love in a new and honest way. It is with the support, love and strength of not only his friends but were it not for the strength learned and exhibited by his mother, nothing would have been possible. Though there is some heavy drama at times, we also come away with a warm good feeling about life and our meeting of this Lewis family. It is our hope that this Lewis family will find a similar place in theatrical history equal to that of the Younger family in A RAISIN IN THE SUN.
Michael St. John's Biography Has Heart
Posted by Tommy Garrett on Sep 25, 2011 - 8:08:08 PM
BEVERLY HILLS—Michael St. John’s new autobiography “Hollywood Through the Back Door” is a wonderful read. It’s filled with real-life anecdotal information that shows his arrival and rise in Hollywood did not come without a major price. Michael, however, has been an uplifting individual who mastered the art of networking in Tinseltown. Long before there was Facebook or Twitter, Michael was often at every Hollywood party, making deals and making new connections.
Hollywood Through the Back Door
However, as a minority in America, he faced an enormous amount of challenges and found that he had to work harder than others who arrived in this town at the same time, all trying to break into what we all know as the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. The one thing Michael never failed to do is succeed despite adversities. His book is an inspiring, easy read that is filled with the art of self-control and the grace and dignity in which he has led his life and career over the past decades.
The story of Michael St. John is of a man who through humble beginnings never let anything get in the way of his quest for success. He was born in West Chester, Pa. He spent the first six years of his life in a village called “The Holler.” There he confronted violence, rape and murder. But those early experiences only empowered him to want to live a better life, and it also was the impetus for his parents to move the family to Morton, near Philadelphia, where he was quickly introduced to the theater, television and radio world. He knew right then that this was his goal. His path may have been riddled with traps and barriers, but like any good American, he used every mistake or obstacle as a lesson to learn from, not a trap to fall in to.
Michael’s first semester at a college was spent at Earlham College in Indiana. While there, he was elected class president, the first African American to be so distinguished. It also resulted in his dormitory room being fire-bombed. As a result, he was transferred to USC in Los Angeles. Immediately, his life took on a major turn. St. John suddenly was propelled into the magic world of Hollywood. The young man quickly found that breaking the rules to get what he wanted was necessary to achieve his creative objectives. Having the support of film luminaries such as Bette Davis, Agnes Moorehead and producer David Weisbart, many doors in Hollywood were opened. He became further obsessed with the entertainment industry, one that only gave most minorities a slight nod. Michael faced every challenge to prove the Hollywood gatekeepers wrong. Although he was shown the backdoor entrances wherever he wanted to go, like Sammy Davis, Jr. Michael St. John only focused on the long-term goals he’d set earlier in life for himself.
“Hollywood Through the Backdoor” chronicles St. John’s arrival in Hollywood, and it questions many choices he was forced to make. However, his early childhood environment built this mover and shaker of today’s Hollywood to endure and build his fighting skills in order to survive and overcome whatever adversities were handed his way.
The reason Michael is so vocal today about African Americans playing demeaning roles is because, as this book describes so eloquently, he arrived in this town when the only roles blacks could play or any other minority for that matter were the demeaning roles often played by despondent and depressed stars, who felt typecast in a world that was not open or accepting.
When not in a classroom at USC, Michael could often be found on a film set, observing and meeting stars or those who might make it happen for him. I love how honest Michael is about pulling some outlandish and unbelievable stunts to get noticed by many in the industry, including Dan Dailey, Marlon Brando, Hedda Hopper and so many other highly respected creative movers in the industry, who held out their hand, giving him the necessary push needed.
Though what you will enjoy most about this book is that Michael truly did not give a damn how he got inside, he’d go through the “Backdoor” or the basement if it meant achieving his Hollywood dreams.
“Hollywood Through the Back Door” is a cautionary tale for any young people who are dreaming of success in a town that is known for toughness, but ultimately rewarding of persistence. Michael’s very tough, but he handles others with respect, and his book should be on every reader’s gift list for the upcoming holidays.
“Hollywood Through the Back Door” is available at booksellers around the nation and at Amazon.com.
READING REVIEW SINSTONES IN THE COLOR OF RARE
Michael St. John’s I Feel Sin Comin On Brings Laughter Tears and Stars to the Saban
February 13, 2014 ankhente
Michael St. John, is Hollywood royalty, he is the cream that always rises to the top. Michael as a teen grew up in the industry and can make claim to being an actor, writer, producer, PR expert, journalist and theatrical performer. When each role that he plays becomes too confining, he simply morphs into another one. When the Saban Theater gave Michael St. John the space to clear his head, come up with a plan, “I Feel Sin Comin’ On’ came to fruition. The plays Grace (Anna Maria Horsford) and Grandma (Marla Gibbs) use the phrase, “I Feel Sin Comin’On”, when they have to confront a situation or circumstance head on. “I Feel Sin Comin-’On”, was used frequently to express discontent and to speak one’s mind.
There were a lot of Broadway productions in Los Angeles during the 40’s-50’s, however Michael heralded from Philadelphia and was just getting his feet wet as he came to know the City of Lost Angels.
Ebony Showcase, started in 1950 by Nick and Edna Stewart, was a venue capable of putting on quality productions in the Crenshaw area of Los Angeles. Nick, aka as Lightnin’ on the groundbreaking television series Amos ‘n’ Andy, would also give St. John fuel for the power that would spiral him into all of the right circles. Inline image
I Feel Sin Comin’On, lost one of its major performers, Oscar nominee (Imitation of Life) Juanita Moore who Michael calls, “mom” and who transitioned January 1. As if that were not bad enough, Nichelle Nichols (StarTrek) had to fulfill a previous obligation and could not be a part of the production. With a heavy heart the brave, daring, and consummate performer, used his quick wit and decided to replace Nichols with the amazing, still funny as hell, Marla Gibbs. So what does the tough do, when the going gets rough? The tough, gets going and St. John did exactly that when he had to at the last minute turn an entire Broadway type play into a Broadway styled reading. Perhaps, his “I Feel Sin Comin’On” gave some righteous flashbacks of intimate images that lie in the deepest crevices of his head. According to Michael, his father an alcoholic as well, beat him mercilessly then offered no comfort or reassurance.
St. John’s father so severely abused Michael’s mother that the producer, journalist, and King of “What’s the 411” fought back tears just thinking about that part of his past. An ongoing and numbing pain still acts as a reminder of how his father had watched a neighbor rape him and did nothing. This animalistic act happened repeatedly to Michael as a young man growing up in Morton, a suburb outside of Philadelphia. Each time, Michael’s father offered no consolation, no hope, and no love. These stored hurts and entrenched emotions became an integral part of Michael’s psyche and would prove to be the driving force for his success.
“I Feel Sin Comin’On, in every sense of the word is the story of an American family and a reflection of the broad diversity of St. John’s life. In this case, the family in question is African-American. The Lewis Family. Grace Lewis, (Anna Marie Holsford), the foundation of the family and her broken-spirited and alcoholic husband, Charlie (Leon Isaac Kennedy), have their trials and tribulations like most do. For those who chose a family over career during the 50’s because times were difficult for black folk could be sure that their dreams would never come to fruition. When wise and spirited Grandma, (Marla Gibbs) decides to put her two cents and then some into the family feud that’s when things get jiggy. Miss Mathews (Ruta Lee – a powerful force in Hollywood) promises to give up her position in the local school performance, if the powers that-be don’t let aspiring young, Sonny Lewis (Jason Holmes) play the lead in its high school Shakespeare performance of Hamlet. The drama ensues as the reading takes form and all of the characters begin to interact with each other throughout each scene. Sonny decides that he is not going to give up on his dreams and then shares his plan to go to college in Richmond, Indiana and then off to Broadway. He has a close relationship with his brothers: Robbie ( Kirk Kelley Kahn grandson of the late Juanita Moore), Johnny Boy ( Alexander Abdul and sisters, Shirley ( Wanda Ray Willis) and Ida (Martha Prosper). He has an extremely close relationship with Louie, a Jewish lad ( Chad Ratto) and Joey an Italian musician ( Ira Gold). The head school master, Mr. Thompson (Paul
Mischeshin) attempts to keep things calm by having a talk with Sonny’s mother “Grace”. This turns out being quite a confrontation.
When finally confronting his father about all the pint up frustration, pain and anger he has suffered all of his life, Sonny feels free to look more positively to the future and is determined to be who and what he is as a human being.
MARLA GIBBS (THE JEFFERSONS SERIES “Florence” the housekeeper / 227 (her own TV series – 6 seasons)
ANNA MARIA HORSFORD (THE “AMEN” SERIES) - Films with Tyler Perry
Introducing JASON HOLMES as Sonny Lewis
RUTA LEE (Well known nationally as an actress in films and television Seven Brides For Seven Brothers), Witness For The Prosecution etc.
LEON ISAAC KENNEDY (Starred in 2 MGM films) PENITENTIARY 1 & 2 and numerous films & television movies