Interview with actors Warren Christie and Annabeth Gish, producer Ilene Kahn Power, and director Gail Harvey of “Gone Mom” on Lifetime by Suzanne 5/9/21
This was one of a number of different video interviews we did this day with actors and others from upcoming Lifetime movies this summer. It was very exciting to watch the movies and then speak with the stars and creative minds behind the films. I thought this one, “Gone Mom” was one of the best of the films.
I’d spoken with Warren twice before, in 2011 (for Syfy’s “Alphas”) and 2014 (for a Hallmark movie), but seeing his handsome face on Zoom was much better. I wish I had more time to ask more questions, especially about his recent guest-starring role as Bruce Wayne (albeit a copy) on The CW’s “Batwoman.” Annabeth Gish is a great actress who’s been acting since she was a child. You can see her in the upcoming Netflix horror series “Midnight Mass” later this year.
Moderator: Hi everyone, so our first panel today is Gone Mom: The Disappearance of Jennifer Doulos. Please welcome stars Annabeth Gish and Warren Christie, executive producer Rachel Stockman, Ilene Kahn Power and director Gail Harvey. Hi everyone, our first question is for Annabeth and Warren. Were you familiar with the Dulos case prior to your involvement in the film?
Annabeth Gish: I certainly was. I live here in the States, and I have a lot of friends on the East Coast. And yes, I was very much aware as a mother um, of the story, yes I was.
Warren Christie: I wasn’t. I didn’t really know a lot about it, so to see it start to unfold and really get into the details of it was obviously incredibly shocking. I don’t know how else to put it.
Moderator: We have a first question from Jamie from Sci-fi magazine. I see there are titles are cut off a little. Go ahead Jamie.
Jamie Ruby (SciFi Vision magazine): Hi, Jamie from SciFi Vision. Hi guys, this question’s for the actors. What was it that first attracted you to the roles that made you know that you just had to play them?
Annabeth Gish: Warren, you wanna go or you wanna go ahead yeah. Well for me there were multiple reasons not the least of which is that Jennifer would have been my peer. When I was at Duke, she was at Brown. We’re both the exact same age. I’m a mother, and I think there’s a real resonance to understanding that this kind of domestic violence can occur in any social strata. Whether you’re privileged or not. And I think the story of loving someone and then being surprised with who they actually are is a common one. So, I was, I was. I wouldn’t say I was eager. It was, it was stressful to take on the role, but I wanted to embody this part.
Moderator: Thank you, our next question is from Suzanne.
Suzanne Lanoue (TVMEG): Morning. It’s great to talk to you all. Warren, what was the most challenging part of doing this role.
Warren Christie: Oh um, well, obviously there’s a lot of duality to what’s going on, and I think to make sure that we told the story properly with as much authenticity as we could so… (that’s my dog). You know you take on responsibility with this when you’re talking about real people, and for me that was the biggest thing. And obviously I wouldn’t say….Annabeth, and I were both on the same page with wanting to make sure this story was told properly and she’s so incredibly talented that you know, and so open to what was going on that. We kind of talked early on and made sure that we both felt safe and comfortable, but wanted to make sure that we told this thing in a kind of raw backdrop so that we made sure that the story was told properly. So yeah, it’s hard sometimes you know. When you have to go to a certain place and do certain things, but like I said, working with Annabeth was such a treat that we we just made sure that we did it with as much heart as we possibly could.
Suzanne Lanoue: Thank you and Annabeth, when you were working with the actress who played Audrey, I’m sorry I don’t know her name, did you work together to try to get a bond ahead of time with before the movie?
Annabeth Gish: Uh Laura Harris? Um, she was phenomenal and easy to work with and the whole entire cast as in in general Ilene and Gail, our producer and director, did an amazing job of gathering real actors who wanted to bring an authenticity, as Warren said to this. And it was imperative that the friendship between Jennifer and Audrey was real and it was not false at all, Laura and I were immediately….we became quick and close friends.
Suzanne Lanoue: Yeah, it came over very well. Thank you. I enjoyed the movie.
Annabeth Gish: Thank you.
Moderator: Thanks Suzanne. The next question is from Lisa. Just a reminder if you could put your hand down after you’ve asked your question.
Lisa Steinberg (Starry Constellation): Thank you.
Moderator: Lisa, I believe you’re muted.
Lisa Steinberg: Sorry about that, thank you guys so much for taking your time to chat with us today. Did either of you come to a conclusion of whether or not you really felt that Dulos was guilty or not? Or do you try not to judge the characters that you’re portraying?
Annabeth Gish: Warren that’s to you. That was a good question.
Warren Christie: You know, I. I wouldn’t want to comment on it too much, and I think it’s really important. (barking dog). Oh hi. That’s my dog by the way.
Annabeth Gish: He thinks Fotis is guilty
Warren Christie: yeah yeah don’t we all? I think it’s, I think it’s important to to tell this story properly to not go in judging it. You know I have my own feelings after the fact and during obviously, but I think more importantly it was, it was not judge his character, tell this story like I said in a raw manner and as honestly as we could. And on a bigger scale, tell the stories Annabeth touched upon earlier that we wanted to highlight, unfortunately, domestic violence. We wanted to make sure it was not something that was controlled by socioeconomic factors like we wanted to show that sometimes from the outside, these perfect lives aren’t so perfect. So for us it was a bigger scale just telling this particular story, but hoping that it resonates, you know, on that larger scale.
Annabeth Gish: And to add to that, one of the most important elements of this story is a love story. You know, I mean, Fotis and Jennifer had a love story that that spanned time and they had five children, so there was obviously a lot of love and chemistry and they were both really charismatic beings, and so I think as much as we all, again, this is a group effort, um we really wanted the tone to be about love and not so much about horror you know. I mean clearly it’s a horrific accident that happened were tragedy but but there was a love story at the at the core of it.
Moderator: Thank you, our next question is from Rick.
Rick Bentley (Nexstar Media): Warren, two quick questions. These movies have taught us to immediately suspect the husband and when you play a role like that, you have to make a sort of, you know, have doubts is it in the process in your voice and the body language. How do you get that across? And secondly, why do you think we are so fascinated by these kind of stories?
Warren Christie: Well, as far as telling the character, you know I’m, my responsibility comes to telling the story that’s been written in this particular thing, and what’s on the page. Um, and so you go about that again without judging the character, but but trying to create and fill in the blanks of what we don’t know. Um, you know it’s no different than telling any other story. The thing is, you have an added responsibility because you’re talking about real people and in certain things real time. Um, on a side note, I think people are so gripped by these stories because and this one in particular, as I mentioned earlier, you know you’re talking about a family that looked like they had it all. They had that thing that we would all you know want to try and get on paper and so to see them behind the scenes what was going on and the abuse and the different things like that and then how it tragically ended, I think that’s what grips people. You know when you see people that have it all or that thing that we aspire to possibly have, and then you realize you pull the curtain back, and that’s not really what it is. I think that’s what hits with people, and I think that’s what opens up and draws people in these type of stories.
Moderator: Thank you, our next question is from Jay, and then we’ll have one more question after Jay and then that’ll be it for this panel.
Jay Bobbin (Gracenote): Hello. Thank you. Annabeth, you have done so much in your career in so many genres. Was true crime, something you especially wanted to get into at this point in time or was it this story specifically for you?
Annabeth Gish: Oh it was absolutely the story specifically for me, and also that it was being told consciously through a female lens with Gail as our Director, and Ilene as our producer, and we had a female DP and a female editor as well. Um, I know Rachel is also a producer. You know, I think it was just really for me it was a beautiful opportunity for me to explore this topic. And it was, it was hard to do, but I’m so glad we did it together with this female gaze.
Jay Bobbin: Thank you.
Moderator: Thank you Annabeth and speaking to what you were just saying, this was a majority female lead production. How was that like on set?
Annabeth Gish: It was awesome. I mean it was awesome and and yet we had many male crew members as well. It was just it was just. It was lovely. I can’t say more. Gail and Ilene can probably speak to that too.
Moderator: yeah, of course yeah, yeah.
Ilene Kahn Power: I can speak to the fact that we had actually more than half were females on this show. We qualified for the Sundance and Women and Film Reframe stamp that really goes for gender parity and we felt that the you know that that having that mojo behind it really helped to make the movie what it is and with Annabeth and Warren as the lead and Gail directing, we feel we really achieved it. And we we had so many challenges doing this movie under covid that there were there was Amy, our DP, Annabeth, Gail and myself, who burned sage frequently on this movie, and I’m gonna have him stay it worked. It worked so we feel really blessed about that and we’re thrilled with the support that we’ve gotten from Lifetime and about telling this story that’s still evolving.
Annabeth Gish: I will say there was a sensitivity that is just inherent when when you have a female director you know um and just people behind the camera who are coming at it honoring Jennifer’s story.
Gail Harvey: Yes, and we got very very lucky to have the most amazing casts. It’s one of those movies where everything just kind of fell together and you know and we were all I think not to sound too spiritual, but like we were all feeling that we really wanted…that Jennifer was there and we were telling her story with her. So I want to thank everybody because I think it’s a very important story.
Moderator: Absolutely, and Rachel, anything that you would like to add?
Rachel Stockman: And I would just say I think that this movie will connect to a lot of women. Um, I know a lot of women have connected to this story. They’ve known someone, a family member or friend where this may have happened or that family member has suffered some kind of violence and it’s the story of Jennifer and she really was part of….uh her memory was part of how we put this film together. But I think it’s really special in that it kind of goes beyond that too and has a larger message um in Jennifer’s honor.
Moderator: Thank you so much. We’re very much looking forward to this film.
Moderator: Thank you to all of our Gone Mom panelists and stay tuned for the next one.
Summer of Secrets Press Day – Wednesday, May 19
Amy Winter (EVP of Lifetime Programming): I am excited and I want to thank you for joining us today for our very first summer of secrets press day. Only Lifetime can bring you a season full of twisted tales based on true crime. A season filled with stories that had people saying, “you know what – that sounds like a Lifetime movie.” Before we dive into your questions for our seven panels today, I’ve got even more secrets to share.
Do you know what today is? It’s actually Harry and Meghan’s 3rd wedding anniversary. And we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than to reveal who is starring as the lovely couple in the third movie of our franchise, Harry and Meghan: Escaping the Palace. Taking the crown as the newest Duke and Duchess of Sussex are Jordan Dean and Sydney Morton. We just started production on Monday and can’t wait to spill the tea when it debuts this fall.
And I know it’s not even Memorial Day yet, but we always have holidays on the brain and we’re already filling Santa’s sleigh with some goodies for this year’s It’s a Wonderful Lifetime holiday movie slate. Some of our favorite talent like Melissa Joan Hart, Mario Lopez, Kelly Rowland, Jana Kramer and others are back and this year we have Reba McEntire in her own holiday movie filming now in Nashville.
But wait, there’s more. I’m excited to give you all an early present with a glimpse at the incredible cast for two of our upcoming holiday movies. Who doesn’t love a good reunion for the holidays? We are excited to start off the festivities. With some fancy footwork this year, by taking you all back to High School Musical days with alums, Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman in a Christmas Dance Reunion. The music, the dance, and the romance are the perfect way to start off this year’s late.
I’m also revealing another trip down memory lane starring a BUNCH of amazing folks all in one movie. Blending Christmas directed by Marla Sokoloff and starring Haylie Duff, Aaron O’Connell, Beth Broderick, Telma Hopkins, Jennifer Elise Cox, Greg Evigan, and remember when I said “bunch?” This movie also stars Barry Williams, Christopher Knight, Mike Lookinland, Susan Olsen and Robbie Rist who you all remember from the iconic TV show The Brady Bunch. We hope everyone is reunited with family and friends for the holidays. It’s nice to bring these loved ones back together.
And if you feel like the Holidays are just too far away, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. After all, my last name is Winter, so I like to bring the season whenever I can to tide you over, we’re going to indulge all those holiday fanatics with our first ever Summer of Santas where over 8 holiday titles from our Christmas past will be available on VOD along with twenty movies that will be available on the Lifetime Movie Club app all during the month of July.
Speaking of the Lifetime Movie Club app and getting back to today’s main event, I also wanted to mention that on May 28th we will be releasing an exclusive new movie on LMC titled Deadly Misconduct. So no matter what platform you watch Lifetime on, our Summer of Secrets are ready to be revealed.
Okay, so I’ve shared a lot and I did hope to reveal one more big secret, but it’s hidden in the attic, so you will have to wait a bit more for that one to be unveiled. So let’s get to the panels, starting off with a gripping true story that captured nationwide attention. The tale of Connecticut mom Jennifer Doulos, whose disappearance rocked her small town. This is Gone Mom.
LIFETIME KICKS OFF FIRST ANNUAL
SUMMER OF SECRETS
WITH SIX NEW ORIGINAL MOVIES INSPIRED BY TRUE STORIES
FEATURING ALL STAR CASTS
GONE MOM STARRING ANNABETH GISH AND WARREN CHRISTIE
PREMIERES SATURDAY, JUNE 5
SOCCER MOM MADAM STARRING JANA KRAMER
PREMIERES SUNDAY, JUNE 6
JENNIE GARTH AND ANWEN O’DRISCOLL
STAR IN LEFT FOR DEAD: THE ASHLEY REEVES STORY
PREMIERING SATURDAY, JUNE 12
SECRETS OF A GOLD DIGGER KILLER STARS JULIE BENZ
PREMIERING SUNDAY, JUNE 13
SECRETS OF A MARINE’S WIFE
STARS SADIE CALVANO
PREMIERING SATURDAY, JUNE 19
DOOMSDAY MOM STARRING LAUREN LEE SMITH AND MARC BLUCAS
PREMIERES SATURDAY, JUNE 26
LINDA PURL AND PATRICK DUFFY ALSO STAR
FOUR ADDITIONAL ACQUIRED TITLES WILL AIR DURING THE SLATE
LOS ANGELES, CA (April 1, 2021) – Shhhhh… there’s a lot to uncover this summer with Lifetime‘s first annual Summer of Secrets programming slate with the announcement of six new original movies, debuting this June. Four acquired titles will air during the slate as well. Gone Mom, starring Annabeth Gish (The Haunting of Hill House) and Warren Christie (Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce), is based on the true story of missing Connecticut mom Jennifer Dulos whose husband later committed suicide after he was charged with her murder. Jana Kramer (One Tree Hill) takes on the role of Anna, a suburban mom who runs an elite escort service for the high-powered men of New York in Soccer Mom Madam. Jennie Garth (90210) and Anwen O’Driscoll (American Gods) lead Left for Dead: The Ashley Reeves Story, based on the true account of 17-year-old Ashley Reeves who is attacked and abandoned in the woods and must fight to regain her life. Julie Benz (Dexter) stars as convicted murderer Celeste Beard in Secrets of a Gold Digger Killer, while Sadie Calvano (Mom) stars in Secrets of a Marine’s Wife. Doomsday Mom stars Lauren Lee Smith (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation) and Marc Blucas (Buffy The Vampire Slayer), and focuses on the Lori Vallow saga, an Idaho mother whose two missing children lead authorities through a web of death and deceptions as they try to uncover the truth of their disappearance. Linda Purl (Happy Days) and Patrick Duffy (Dallas) also star.
“Off the success of our Ripped from the Headlines slates, we are doubling down on what women love on Lifetime for our first annual Summer of Secrets slate.” said Amy Winter, EVP and Head of Programming, Lifetime and LMN. “These stories captured our collective attention and are the perfect kick off to the summer with the stranger than fiction moments and revealing secrets that had everyone talking.”
A top 10 cable network with W25-54, Lifetime recently grew 13%, marking its strongest quarter growth in nearly 20 years. As the leading producer of television movies, Lifetime continues to dominate the original movie space, with the top two movies in all of cable with Wendy Williams: The Movie and Salt N Pepa for 2021.
Source: Nielsen Live+3, (000s), as noted with A25-54, W25-54, A18-49, W18-49; 2021 Calendar YTD =12/28/20-3/21/21, Original Movies Only (Excludes all theatricals and acquired movies on all nets, excludes mini-series)
PREMIERES SATURDAY, JUNE 5 at 8/7c
Based on a true story, Gone Mom details the story of Jennifer Dulos (Annabeth Gish), the wealthy, Connecticut mother-of-five who mysteriously vanished on May 24, 2019. Jennifer believed she had found her Prince Charming in Fotis Dulos (Warren Christie), but by the time of her disappearance, their marriage had all but disintegrated and the estranged couple was engaged in a contentious custody dispute. After she disappeared without a trace, after dropping off their children at school, police turned the spotlight on Fotis, who claimed Jennifer staged her own disappearance ala the film, Gone Girl. Despite his assertions, investigators charged Fotis with murder in January 2020 but just weeks later, Fotis committed suicide, still claiming his innocence. To this date, the body of Jennifer has not been found.
Produced by Lighthouse Pictures for Lifetime, Gone Mom is executive produced by Dan Abrams, Ilene Kahn Power and Rachel Stockman. Gail Harvey directs from a script written by Gregory Small and Richard Blaney.
Proofread and Edited by Brenda