Actor Wes Brown has been quite busy since his 2009 stint as Luke on HBO’s “True Blood.” There were roles on NBC’s “Trauma,” CBS’ “NCIS” and a pilot called “Scandal” by “Grey’s Anatomy”

creator Shonda Rhimes. Then there was the recently shot, Val Kilmer-starring feature film, “The Last Ride of Wyatt Earp.” Next up is a recurring role on the CW’s “Dixie” and a role in “Weather Wars,” a film project by Baton Rouge- and Lafayette-based Bullet Films.

The Baton Rouge-raised actor also spent all of last summer shooting two movies for Hallmark Channel. Based on “Love Comes Softly,” a book series by Janette Oke, “Love Begins” and “Love’s Everlasting Courage” will air soon.

The multi-movie series has been Hallmark’s highest-rated and most successful series, so it decided to extend the story.

“These are prequels to the already existing ‘Love (Comes Softly)’ series,” Brown said from California. “We pick up before the first one ever took place.”

Set in the mid-1800s, “Love Begin’s” story has Brown’s Clark Davis character heading to California to make his fortune in the gold fields. On the way he rides into Anderson’s Corner and meets Ellen Barlow, who’s struggling to make a living on the family farm.

For filming, Los Angeles County doubles as the old West.

“We spent all of last summer up on Melody Ranch out here in northern Los Angeles County,” Brown said. “We also shot at Big Sky Ranch in Simi Valley.”

Melody Ranch was formerly owned by Gene Autry.

“Los Angeles is not all Hollywood and the beach. There are parts that look absolutely amazing,” he said.

Brown logged a lot of horse-riding hours in the valley during shooting.

“I didn’t have a whole lot of experience (riding horses),” Brown said. “I had friends with horses growing up. After riding every single days for hours a day literally for months at a time, I got real comfortable with them.”

Like Louisiana, shooting in Los Angeles in the summer was hot. But, unlike Browns’ home state, it wasn’t humid.

“We were exceeding 100 degrees. It’s definitely different than the Louisiana hot, it’s kind of like a Las Vegas hot, where it’s real, real dry. It’s 106 (degrees) outside right now. You’re not so much sweating as you are feeling the burn of the sun.

“That was just part of the experience. That’s what the story called for, the characters, they lived and breathed, real people, at that time, with no AC, so I actually quite enjoyed experiencing the heat without the luxury of air conditioning in all the houses.”

For the two “Love” films, Brown worked alongside some veteran actors, including Nancy McKeon (“The Facts of Life”).

“Yeah, she and I joked about that (Brown watching “Facts” as a young boy). She couldn’t have been nicer. I feel like every person who has been working for so much longer than I have, I just use that as a personal learning experience, to get their story, just to see how it was for them, any advice and stuff I can get will only benefit me in the long run.

“They all made me bring my ‘A’ game, her (McKeon) and Cheryl Ladd and Bruce Boxleitner, who I was very fortunate to get to work with.”

“Love Begins” airs at 9 p.m. Saturday. “Love’s Everlasting Courage” airs at 8 p.m. Oct. 1. Hallmark Channel is on cable Channel 62.

Documentary honored

LSU Associate Professor of Geography Dydia DeLyser was associate producer on a documentary film related to her research on early women pilots, “The Legend of Pancho Barnes and the Happy Bottom Riding Club.”

The film was recently awarded a 2011 L.A. Area Emmy Award in the Arts & Culture/History category.

The L.A. Area Emmy Awards are given for broadcast achievements produced or solely financed and controlled by the Los Angeles television stations or cable television systems. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and the Los Angeles Area Awards Committee, comprised of station program and news directors, determine the awards structure.

About winning the Emmy, DeLyser said, “This is a tremendous honor and a huge unexpected thrill. As an academic I always saw my career publishing books and articles. Working on a film related to my research was a fabulous and exciting challenge for me. But I never imagined we’d win an Emmy. It’s a career highlight I never thought I’d even qualify for, let alone actually achieve.”

“The Legend of Pancho Barnes and the Happy Bottom Riding Club” chronicles the thrilling life and extraordinary times of aviation pioneer Florence Lowe “Pancho” Barnes, one of the most colorful and accomplished women pilots of the earliest 20th century, and an ill-behaved woman who made history.

A charismatic figure featured in Tom Wolfe’s book, “The Right Stuff,” Barnes was one of the most important women in 20th-century aviation. A tough and fearless aviatrix, she was a rival of Amelia Earhart, who made a name for herself as Hollywood’s first female stunt pilot.

Just before World War II, Barnes opened a ranch near Edwards Air Force Base that became a famous — some would say notorious — hangout for test pilots and movie stars. Known as the “Happy Bottom Riding Club,” it became the epicenter of the aviation world during the early jet age. Chuck Yeager celebrated breaking the sound barrier there in 1947, and Howard Hughes and Jimmy Doolittle caroused in the bar. The club’s destruction by fire in 1953 is seen by many to mark the end of a Golden Era in post-WWII aviation.

In the same fashion, Barnes herself has become something of a legend, a fascinating yet enigmatic icon whose swagger is often celebrated, but whose story has been largely unknown ... until now.

The project features newly discovered documents from Barnes’ personal files, never-before-seen photos and rare movie footage to tell her story; and features interviews with her friends, historians and biographers.

DeLyser has been at LSU since 1998, and her research focuses on landscape and social memory. She has published extensively about ghost towns, including Bodie, Calif., which formed the basis of her dissertation. Her book on Southern California’s “Ramona Myth” was published in 2005.

DeLyser is also an aviatrix with glider, single-engine and tail-wheel ratings, and the only member of the film crew who has flown in a P-51 Mustang.

“The Legend of Pancho Barnes and the Happy Bottom Riding Club” also won the 2010 Editing Award at the DOCUTAH Film Festival, “Best Documentary” at the 2010 Los Angeles Women’s Film Festival, the Audience Award at the 16th Annual San Luis Obispo Film Festival and the Audience Award at the Big Muddy Film Festival 2010.


WLFT goes digital

WLFT, Channel 30.1 (cable Channel 17) recently began broadcasting a digital multicast signal.

The station, owned by Touch Broadcasting, re-launched as MeTV and airs a combination of religious and retro comedy programming. The station will announce additional channels in the near future that will be aired on digital Channels 30.2, 30.3 and 30.4.

Mitchell show taping

Alpha Media invites Southern University faculty, students, and alumni to the taping of “The Coach Stump Mitchell Show” at 7 p.m. Mondays at DJon’s Restaurant, 5255 Florida Blvd.

Fans who come out this Monday can enter a chance to win a Coors Light VIP Flyaway Package to the Atlanta Football Classic to watch the Southern University Jaguars battle the Florida A&M Rattlers. The prize package includes two airfare tickets, hotel accommodations for two nights and gameday tickets/access to the Coors Light Tailgate Party.

Also, fans can compete to be “The GREATEST Fan of Southern University” in a 60-second spot hosted by Kingi Knox during Mitchell’s show.


LPB reaches drive goal

Louisiana Public Broadcasting reached its goal of $250,000 during the recently completed membership campaign. LPB received 1,792 pledges during the campaign.

Among the most popular shows during the drive were “An Evening with CC Lockwood,” “Great Performances: Jackie Evancho: Dream With Me in Concert,” “Doc Martin” and “Cajun Food Traditions.”

Worth a look

NOT AS I PICTURED: 3 p.m. Sept. 18 and 10 p.m. Sept. 19, WLPB, Channel 27.1 (cable Channel 12). The new documentary chronicles Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist John Kaplan’s own experience dealing with cancer. He was diagnosed with a potentially deadly form of lymphoma at age 48. A humanitarian program is giving 10,000 free DVD copies of the documentary to anyone affected by cancer. Go to for more information.

LPB and LSU Media Relations contributed items for this column. Television stations with news about programming, on-air reporters or personalities should send the information to: Judy Bergeron, television editor, The Advocate, 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810; fax to (225) 388-0351 or email