david giuntoli

ArtsWatch Weekly: a Tempest and an operatic pot shot

A look at the week that was in Oregon arts. A glimpse ahead at the week that's going to be.

WELL, SHOOT. The whole thing explodes into a duel, of course, but before that there’s a tangled romance, and a cad’s carelessness, and a whole lot of glorious singing, and, well, why not a wintry tale for a midsummer opera? Portland Opera moves into the cozier confines of the Newmark Theatre beginning Friday night for its new production of Eugene Onegin, Tchaikovsky’s lyric opera based on Pushkin’s verse novel, and things are looking promising – if not for Onegin himself, who lives to deeply regret shooting his best friend, Lensky, then for the audience. ArtsWatch’s Christa Morletti McIntyre interviewed stage director Kevin Newbury, fresh off his acclaimed world-premiere production of Fellow Travelers at Cincinnati Opera, and discovered his plan to create an Onegin that will resonate with his fellow Gen Xers. Newbury has reset the late 19th century tale in the 1980s, around the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union and crumbling of the Berlin Wall. The “political and nuclear-threatening war of grudges” between East and West, McIntyre writes, helped “to unpack the meanings and individual lives impacted by this new kind of war, which was as visually stunning as it was oppressive and terrorizing.” All that, of course, plus some gorgeous music.

Ilya Repin, "Eugene Onegin and Vladimir Lensky's Duel," 1899, watercolor, white lead and India ink on paper, Pushkin Museum, Moscow/Wikimedia Commons

Ilya Repin, “Eugene Onegin and Vladimir Lensky’s Duel,” 1899, watercolor, white lead and India ink on paper, Pushkin Museum, Moscow/Wikimedia Commons



JULY’S FIRST THURSDAY IS THIS WEEK, and there is considerable to look forward to the monthly gallery walk. (Some galleries open shows on Last Friday or First Friday or according to their own schedules). A few we have our eye on: J.D. Perkin’s Island, an exhibit of the Portland sculptor’s fascinating-looking contemporary busts, coupled with some selected works by the late, great Robert Colescott, at Laura Russo Gallery; Sarah Siestreem’s Winter Work paintings, with Cynthia Mosser’s Beach Body, at Augen; the all-star anniversary lineup at PDX Contemporary in A Stand of Pine in a Tilled Field: 21 Years at PDX; the stylized figures and settings of R. Keaney Rathbun’s Memory and Stone, at Waterstone; and Blackfish’s annual Recent Graduates Exhibition of work from Oregon’s college and university art departments. Also, the Portland Biennial, an ambitious overview of work by 34 contemporary artists, opens Saturday at Disjecta, and should be well worth a long look. And on the north coast in Astoria, K.B. Dixon’s 32 Faces, his black-and-white environmental portraits of well-known Oregon artists in their elements, opens Saturday. ArtsWatch wrote about the exhibit when it opened at Michael Parsons Fine Art in Portland in February.


FILM REVIEW: “Grimm” star David Giuntoli in “Buddymoon”

Shot in Oregon, the comedy is a labor of love for Giuntoli and two longtime friends

As NBC’s “Grimm” heads towards its sixth and possible final season, it’s time to face facts. There may come a time when Portland is no longer graced by the regular presence of David Giuntoli, the actor who plays protagonist Detective Nick Burkhardt on the supernatural cop show. Giuntoli has made the city his adoptive home, and has declared himself an unabashed fan of the place many times over.

It comes as no surprise, then, that “Buddymoon,” the low-budget, passion-project independent movie he made with his two old roommates from Los Angeles would be shot in Oregon. (Of course, shooting the film during breaks from production on “Grimm” made that a practical as well as emotional choice.)

When David’s fiancé breaks up with him just before their wedding, he’s despondent. But his best bud Flula (Giuntoli’s real life pal, YouTube star Flula Borg) convinces him not to cancel his planned honeymoon hiking trip through the Columbia Gorge, and the two of them embark on a “Buddymoon.” That’s the cue for a series of outdoor antics in which the free-wheeling, German-accented Flula plays off David’s mopey straight man.


Grimm tidings: monsters in the house

How I learned to love the melée of Portland's favorite TV monster mashup making mayhem outside my front door


Trying to describe the TV show Grimm to the uninitiated recently made me hyper-aware that I sounded like someone after too many whiskies:

“She’s a hexenbiest and one-time lawyer who is pregnant by a royal prince, but she doesn’t know which one. One was killed by a car bomb, the other is a bastard son and a captain in the Portland Police Bureau. She lost her powers but got them back after eviscerating an old woman, and now she’s trying to sell her unborn child that has two hearts.”

And that’s just one character.

The NBC show, now in its third season, has filmed all over the Portland area, but it came to my street to shoot an episode, called Mommy Dearest, that will air March 7.

My family folk aren’t exactly monster-lovers. We don’t go for slasher movies. We aren’t into ghosts. We’re more wine-and-Downton Abbey types. But we’ve watched Grimm since the beginning, at first because we got a kick out of spotting the local actors and locations, and now because we get to type things like, “That hexenbiest is Adalind, the cunning kick-you-into-the-next-century monster babe who plays both sides for keeps.” We want to know what’s up with those powerful coins and how the royal family shakes down. How is it possible that that tiny trailer has an interior as big as a ballroom? Is that cache of weapons right out of the Inquisition? Is Adalind’s unborn baby possessed? What creepy characters are going to pop out next?

Sgt. Wu (Reggie Lee) draws a bead on the neighbor's house. NBC photo

Sgt. Wu (Reggie Lee) draws a bead on the neighbor’s house. NBC photo

In case you’re still among the unschooled: Grimm crawls with “Wesen,” characters who look like everyday humans but morph into a variety of fantasy creatures, some good and some scary-bad. Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) is a homicide detective who has a special family knack for recognizing Wesen – his kind are called Grimms – and kicking their otherworldly behinds. As luck would have it, he and his partner Hank (Russell Hornsby) get called to an inordinate number of out-of-the-ordinary murders. Scalpings and dismemberments, anyone?


"Grimm" is filmed in lovely Portland, Oregon, and environs!/NBC

By Tara Dublin

The Portland arts scene got another great boost last month when the locally-filmed NBC-TV series, “Grimm,” was picked up for a full season by the network. This came as no surprise to me, because I’ve been working on the show as a background extra since the fourth episode, and I knew we had a “Monster Hit”…

…on our hands from the moment I saw the pilot. Actually, I knew the show was special from my first day on the set, and it’s a feeling that’s only increased the more I work there.

“Grimm,” if you haven’t caught it, is not just any police procedural. It poses the question, “What if the Grimm Brothers weren’t telling mere fairy tales, but were really the first police profilers?”

The fairy tales we’ve heard via Mother Goose are watered-down versions of the darker, scarier original Grimm Tales. “Grimm” tells the story of Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli), whose  dying aunt (Kate Burton) revealed to him that’s he one of the last of the Grimms, the only humans who can see the creatures who live among humans for what they really are. Nick’s mission is to find and stop the evil creatures from having their way with humanity.

He’s aided in his quest by the only person who knows about his true self, a Blutbad (in modern layman’s term, a wolfman) named Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell). Monroe is emerging as a fan favorite already, providing much-needed comic relief as he literally helps Nick sniff out the bad guys.

I’m one of a group of regular extras now who fill out the precinct scenes when Nick and his partner, Hank Griffin (Russell Hornsby) confer over cases at their desks. My desk is right across from Russell’s, thanks to a fellow extra, Paul Jordan, who hooked me up with that placement my third time on the set. Paul suggested the move to the desk across from his because he found me funny, and we do a lot of sitting around and entertaining ourselves while waiting for the next scene to begin. Thanks to Paul, I’m often in the shot when Russell and David are filmed at their desks. Just call me Detective Dublin.

Detective Tara Dublin takes a break from a busy day on set.

Detective Dublin is about to tell you all about her latest experience on the set.

On this particular Monday, we are beginning Episode 112, entitled “Last Grimm Standing.” The call time for me and my fellow precinct detectives, as well as uniformed officer/actors, is 7:18 am. When you arrive at the Crew Parking lot (the main shooting stages are located among the factories and warehouses in the Northwest Industrial area), white courtesy vans await to shuttle you to the set. By now I know the way, and it isn’t far, so I walk quickly through the cold morning fog, past the Craft Services tent and the trailers, to the Extras Holding area. When I arrive, many of my friends are already there, decked out in their detective clothes. We all bring our clothes from home, at least three different changes’ worth, so that the lovely folks in Wardrobe can decide how they want us to look that day.

Quite often, we shoot three different days’ worth of scenes in the precinct, and need to change accordingly (just like in real life!). The police officers are issued exact replicas of Portland Police uniforms; the last name written on their name tags belong to producers (“Pavlonnis,” “Oster”) or other members of the crew. There is plenty of humor on this set, something I discovered on Day One, and it’s just one of many reasons why I’m delighted to keep coming back to work.Another reason is WORK…something I’ve been sorely lacking in the recent past, when I used to be a Person of Interest in Portland.

Instead of the jobs rolling in, I’ve been desperately seeking opportunities for over two and half years. This is just one of many opportunities to come my way since then, and I feel very lucky to be here and to be making these fantastic personal and professional connections. Besides, the coffee is strong , the people are nice, and there’s food aplenty. Why wouldn’t anyone be happy to be here?

We are checked in at Extras Holding by Sally, one of the extras’ coordinators, and Jesse, one of the head production assistants, or PA’s. The PA’s keep things humming on the set. They’re constantly on their headsets, checking in with what’s happening on the set and exactly when it’s happening. They tell us when and where to go, and Jesse helps direct the background action for the scenes. Once we’re checked in, we walk over to the Props truck, helmed by the good-natured Stefan. Today he issues me a standard detective badge on a chain to wear around my neck, a briefcase, and a notebook. I am responsible for these props all day and must turn them in when we wrap.

After Props, it’s over to the Wardrobe truck, where we stand in line and talk about our Thanksgivings. The camaraderie here is real: we are all becoming a tight-knit team as the same core group of people is asked back again and again. There’s a special feeling on the set today, however, thanks to the news of the full-season pickup. Now we all know we’ll be working together at least through April, and, we hope, far beyond that. We are all happy, chatty, and energized.