Friday, August 28, 2009

Saving Private Sheetz

Tom Sizemore of "Saving Private Ryan" fame, fought a battle with drug addiction and the law as he danced on my head night and day. Dancing in old army boots from the movie from the fucking sound of things.

Now I still had no idea that was Tom Sizemore sobbing and screaming, then laughing like loon over my head. Night after night this went on. I complained to the Archstone apartment manager that I was physically and mentally breaking down. Sleep depravation is how you break down a terrorist and Tom's day and night anitics were turning me into Jell-o.

Eventually it was a war. One day when Tom was singing on his mega watt speaker system upstairs - Seriously who does this shit living in an apartment? - I went out to patio and bellowed, "Knock off the lousy karaoke, you fucking suck!"

Sizemore shouted, "Fuck you!" and turned up the volume even higher.

So I grabbed a sledge hammer that was a memento of the start of construction on One North Franklin - the building I built for $162 million and sold for $80 million - and rammed the sledge into the ceiling so hard I broke through the plaster. And if that was not bad enough I thew out my right shoulder. I thought I'd had a stroke for about a minute. Took months to heal. I screamed out the patio, "I'm calling the cops you, arrogant mother fucker!"

Just as some felling was coming back into my arm there was a knock at the door. I looked through the peephole and saw a calm man about 40. So calm I did not think it could be the guy upstairs so I opened the door.

He quickly explained he was Tom Sizemore's brother and asked me if I had just called the police again, as I had a few nights earlier.

I was in shock, here I was struggling to find stars for my films and right over my head here was a Golden Globe nominee, Tom Sizemore. Tom's brother instantly reminded me of Fred, my brother who watches out for me. So for those two reasons I assured Tom's brother I'd cool it with the cops- so long as he was not hurting anyone up there like the fights I'd been hearing with women - lest he be sent back to jail.

Next day I went to the landlord and asked to be moved. They told me they were in the process of evicting Mr. Sizemore. Turns out there were many complaints from other neighbors besides me abut his maniacal behavior.

The landlord had a temp furnished unit that I could sleep in. This was far from ideal. Far is right. I had to walk three blocks to sleep. My nerves were so completely shot from Tom's night and day marathon of noise right after the herd of actors, the hot chick witches and the 50 Cent Wanna be that I could not block out the littlest noise.

The landlord told me it could take months before Tom Sizemore was evicted so they offered me another option. Archstone's a big company. They had another apartment complex they would relocate me to at their expense in peaceful Agoura Hills. And that's where I've lived peacefully ever since. Takes me 30 to 45 minutes to get to meetings but I love it out here and get a ton of work done. This is where I made three feature docs and over 100 shorts along with my best screenplays.

But lemme tell you the fires we get out west here are murder and eventually I want to get my butt to Santa Monica before I lose every damn thing I own in this world.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

20 Actors & Tom Sizemore Dancing on My Head

I finally got the 50 Cent Wanna Be quieted down in the apartment below my now peaceful apartment when there arose the thundering herd of foot traffic over my head. Parties rolled at all hours. Work and sleep became impossible.

One day the washer from upstairs overflowed and it rained dirty laundry water all over my place. So I finally went upstairs to complain. A cool black guy named Shaylin opened the door and invited me in for coffee.


There were sleeping bags all over the place and as many as 20 half dressed actors coming and going as we sipped coffees and talked about my recent trip from Chicago to be a filmmaker at the tender age of 50. Shaylin said he'd do his best to keep the troupe quiet.


Shaylin and I got to be such good pals that he appeared in my first Hollywood production, a short called WAVE. He's the guy in the pet store scene. I have to laugh at some of my poor lighting and editing choices. Worst of all the sound was bad and I had to redub a lot of the audio in post. But I learned a lot from this first film that I made all by myself with my trusty new Canon XL2 and Final Cut Pro. I did not in fact use a script. I wanted to improvise the whole thing based on an outline. Yeesh!

Learn about my hopeless crush on Sarah the beautiful star of WAVE next blog:)

Knowing I was an aspiring director, the actors acted quiet for me upstairs. Things fell into a nice pace. I was making calls and finally getting reads from some major studios like New Line, Tapestry Films, Plan B, End Game, Spyglass (thanks to my backer pal Rick) and Davis Entertainment for my six screenplays I had written before coming to Hollywood. All without an agent.


But without star attachments I was still getting nowhere. Which is what had led me to buying all my own gear and making movies myself to learn the trade. Ignoring the fact I was not really learning how to put a professional movie together.

I'm good at ignoring things when I want to get things done. I walked at 8 months old before I learned how to walk. I tend to learn things backwards. That's why I moved to Hollywood at 50 instead of 20. And I had already shot two 35 mm shorts back in Chicago before making DV films. Backwards.

Eventually another neighbor ratted to the landlord about the 20 actors stuffed in that 2 bedroom apartment, including one regular from "Law and Order." No scarcity of irony in Hollywood. It was wonderfully quite after their eviction.


But not for long. Now one actor would move in over my head. A Golden Globe nominated actor who was noisier than the whole 20 actors put together. I didn't know he was an actor at first. And I certainly did not know this guy who sang like a wounded beast on an amp cranked up to the max all to bad organ music he played 24 - fucking -7, who jumped on the floor so hard he knocked a painting off my wall, was Tom fucking Sizemore.

I'll never know if Heidi Fleiss was the one
getting tossed around up there.

Wait! I fact checked Tom's IMDB page for the blog and this story just in: Sizemore arrested yesterday for spousal abuse.

Yeah, I seemed to hear of that stuff going on. I was reliving those nights when I'd be called out of bed by Mom screaming for me to help to break up a fight with Dad. One day when I was about 18 I'd toss my drunken father down a stairway. Last time he ever messed with Mom while I was living at home. No wonder having Tom Sizemore going nuts over my head was driving me nuts.

And all this while I was in a war with a producer I'd attached to a project who hated my guts. Scariest of all I was running out of money. All my wealthy pals back home thought I had lost my mind going to Hollywood. And they were right.

Witches, Bitches and a 50 Cent Wanna Be

When I moved to LA - a song in my heart and stars in my blue eyes - I moved to the the beautiful Archstone apartments on Bluffside Drive in Studio City.

I chose the gorgeous spot because I was going to take Hollywood by storm and wanted to be centrally located to all the studios. I settled in and started making calls to studios.

Now I ain't making excuses for how shitty my work on pitching the studios went... But it got hard as hell to concentrate on making those calls, because I was getting almost no sleep or quiet to work.

For example:


I shit you not, a coven of hot chick witches held night seances over this blue flame on the patio of the apartment next to mine. Witch seances happened mostly on weekends at decent hours. So I never complained to the apartment manager.

What? I told you they were hot witches.


A hard tiled hallway with barking dogs yapping all day and night. Nothing I could do about the little barking bitches.


A rap artist erupted below me. His rap was lousy and his base was so loud that I would not need a vibrator if I was a chick to get off.

When the building or the cops could not get him to quiet down, on the advice of my Chicago pal and awesome backer, Rick, I set up my speakers face down on the floor and blasted the rapper back for a full two hours of the Rolling Stones on a loop track while I went out to the movies.

Next day the angry 50 Cent Wanna Be (that's the real 50 Cent in the photo) showed up at my door stewing. As he gave me the look of death he told me to never pull that shit again, "Or else."

"Don't rappers shoot people? Thanks, Rick," went thru my head. So I didn't ask what rapper meant by "Or else." But we entered into an uneasy truce.

Respect. Method Man and Redman rap video I loaded to my Blip "7yrsinHollywood" page CLICK NOW! Be a listener. I take requests.

Think that's it for noisy Hollywood? Ha! We ain't even got to Sergeant Noisy, Tom Sizemore. Not a "wanna be Tom Sizemore." The real deal. Next blog with Hedi Fleiss. "20 Actors and Tom Sizemore Dancing on My Head"

End of the Kennedy Era?

I was in second grade when class was stopped and the PA system
played the radio reports of the death of JFK. Now all these years
later Teddy has passed.
Little did I dream that sad and fateful day there would be thing
called the internet and that I'd be working in Hollywood reporting
Teddy's passing. Reporting how Teddy gave Bo, the new puppy
in the White House, to the Obama family.

Bo is now a living reminder now of the friendship between Teddy
and Barack. I saw one of the political pages saying Teddy now
has no successor. What do I think?
See the rest of this blog on my political page Kids Talk Politics.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Man of Action

I don't mean to paint my dad as some kind of monster. This is ancient history. Dad was old school. Spare the rod spoil the child. "If a broad gives you too much lip smack her," he'd advise. He's not that way any more. He was a great provider. A genius welder. A loving man's man who's always been there for his three kids and is there for me to this very day, despite all his flaws.

In fact, Dad moved us to a whole new neighborhood where I could start afresh at a new high school. He never said that's why we moved, because I had told Mom about all about the shame I was experiencing over the whole queer issue, but I appreciated what he did just the same.

My Dad speaks with actions not words. It's one of the things I've come to love and admire about him. Especially compared to the people in Hollywood I've meet who kill you with kindness with words like, "Not for us. Too similar to a script we already have in the works, but good work! Best of luck!" when they really mean, "Never call again and crawl back under whatever rock you came from."

Dad never says he's sorry for anything but shows it in things he does. I'll never forget him buying me a piano, a drafting table, art lessons and, yes, even showing me how to draw faces of women. Yes, as it turns out my dad showed me he is an artist too.

My dad is amazing. 8 years ago he became one of the oldest heart transplant recipients in America. And his extra life has given us time to heal our wounds. So healed it's allowed me to write this blog without fear of strangulation.

"Is it Dad mellowing or the new heart changing him?" my brother Fred and I sometimes wonder. I've got the rough draft of screenplay Dad's story inspired called "Holder of the Heart" in the computer here somewhere.

When I came to Hollywood 7 years ago I thought having 6 screenplays (only 2 would turn out to be worth a damn so I'd write 6 more in LA) in my arsenal would make Hollywood a cake walk for someone with my, money raising, sales and marketing skills.

Wrong. Not knowing it's really about packaging projects with stars and directors, stars and directors you have no access to without the money first in the bank -- and how the hell do you get the money in the bank without stars?-- would almost cause me to starve to death - great way to lose weight - with Tom Sizemore going ballistic in the apartment over my head.

More on that next blog.

Me and Oprah

Hollywood does not hold a candle to my Dad the drill sergeant for ball busting toughness. If he and the grandmother I loved more than anyone on Earth, besides mom and Fred, could not stop me from being an artist, then some Hollywood gate keeper or the current rotten economic times do not have prayer of stopping my dreams.

Photo Taken 1991 - Left to right: John Lamb, Project Manager, Opah Winfery, Jeff Jacobs, President Harpo Studio, Ken Sheetz, Your Blogger and President of Overactive Imagination Pictures

The transition from one of Chicago's most successful commercial real estate pros, having built Oprah's Harpo Studios, negotiated over a billion dollars in real estate deals and built a $162 million skyscraper, to a promising Hollywood' writer, director and producer in my 7 years in Hollywood is the toughest thing I've ever done.

No one makes it alone in Hollywood. Great sacrifices have been made by my kids, my now divorced parents and my pair of new step parents, my beloved uncle, my awesome real estate pals; all support my dream. How much I love them all for this they can never know.

My dear friend and former girlfriend, Karen, who I proposed to and who rejected me, back in my glory days as a wanna be Donald Trump of Chicago, asked me last week if I was really happier making films than skyscrapers? I did not hesitate for second in saying, "I've never been happier than when I'm making movies."

The Unstoppable Artist Stops to Raise a Family

Love is not something I had planned on. Getting married at only 21 seems like something out of "A Coal Miner's Daughter" by today's standards, but in 1974, when the Vietnam War had just ended it was downright American.

Gloria was a great saver and within a few short years working as an interior architect and Gloria as a physical therapist we had enough to buy our first little house in Arlington heights, a suburb of Chicago. Gloria was soon pregnant with our first kid, Jonathan, and I wanted to have her home with the kids. My mom had worked all my childhood, while we were raised by our Irish Gramma, and I wanted to provide well enough so Gloria could be home with the kids.

And so I gave up being an interior architect, went to work as a rookie commercial real estate broker for a guy named Wes Irvine. Wes had leased the Sears Tower and only in his 30s, he was making millions. Within a short time I was making millions as a top commercial real estate broker. But I was miserable because I had given up on my art.

I took some huge gambles to strike it rich enough to perhaps buy a design firm or fund a movie, risking it all on an ill fated skyscraper I built that wiped me out financially. Gloria rightly lost all trust in me and our marriage fell apart.

I have no regrets about my stopping my art to raise a wonderful family. You see, I consider that marriage art. the art of life itself. I love both my kids from the marriage to Gloria, Jon and Janelle. Janelle is the artist of the amazing oil painting portrait of me that you see as my avatar.

The funny thing, Dad never really had to worry about me being Gay. I love women. Love them too much sometimes. When I fall, I fall like a ton of bricks.

Bricks & Crayons

One day at Thompson Elementary, our very pretty kindergarten teacher, who I had an instant crush on, asked my class to draw a picture of our school. I drew every brick and she loved it, proudly showing it off my work to the whole class. And I was hooked on being an artist for life.

One of my clearest childhood memories is feeling full of the admiration from the teacher and classmates, riding home from school as if on a cloud in the family's broken down old Ford.Fred, then age 3, my little bro Fred, my Irish twin and best pal to this day, played with a rainbow colored toy top. My beautiful mother's reddish brunette hair flowed in wind as she drove and sang along with Doris Day on the radio.

My adorable Irish "Gramma," who sat in back with me, asked me how my day at school was and I jumped up to the front seat, no seat belts in the 50s, whipped out my crayon masterpiece and proclaimed, "Look what I made, Mama! I'm gonna be an artist when I grow up!"

Mom was tickled pink, little Fred was kinda jealous... but Gramma's snap reaction nearly broke my budding artist heart, "Artists are scoundrels and usually starve to death. You'll figure out something fine and upstanding to be when you grow up, honey lamb."

A sensitive loving soul, despite her gruff exterior, Gramma saw I was hurt and pulled me into a hug. But I was a frozen statue, lost in her chubby arms that smelled of sweet scented lotion. I pouted for days until Gramma wore me down with her famous homemade apple pie, my favorite.

And if I thought Gramma's reaction to my dream of being an artist was a downer... When Dad came home, full of grease and soot from welding machinery all day, I proudly showed him my drawing of the school, with all the pretty bricks. He grunted in amused disgust, sipped his Pabst Blue Ribbon and used my masterpiece as a coaster for his beer.

Dad, you see, was a drill sergeant in the Korean War and Dad was very worried his oldest boy, who didn't like sports or hunting, was what he angrily called, "A God damn queer. A fem. A fag." I was only five-years-old so I had no idea what Dad's angry words meant, except "God damn" as the family was devout Catholic.

So I asked Gramma, who practically raised my brother and the other brother to come as Mom worked, what all those strange words of dad's meant. Gramma took a sip of beer - there was lot of beer in my childhood, beer and cigarettes -- and told me a lie that served her mission of getting me to abandon being an artist, "'Queer, fem and fag' are just other words for 'Artist', honey."

Now, Gramma thought that her lie would discourage me somehow. But that lie was enough for me to get by.

Much as Dad, believing he was doing what was best for me, would try to beat the Artist out of me with his one two punch of belt whippings and drill sergeant style tongue lashing, my mission only grew in power. Grew into home study courses and a scholarship at art college one day. And then I would meet Gloria, the girl of my dreams in college, get married at 21, have two amazing kids and happily set my art aside for 25 years to raise a family.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Birth of an Unstoppable Artist

After getting shoved into this kicking and screaming by my publicist and co-producer to blog for a documentary I did last year, Tom DeLorenzo - Hi, Tom - I'm finally blogging.

I'm Ken Sheetz, kid on the far right on the photo with my beautiful mom and awesome brother Fred.


Visit to see the brand new trailer for "A Puppy's Tale of 9/11." The short has been an official selection in eight festivals and stars the great Ed Asner, winner of 7 Emmys and 5 Golden Globes. The full short film can only be seen on of my new DVD, "Kids Talk Politics: A New Puppy in the White House"-- #1 on Amazon for the topic of kids and politics, which you can buy on the website.

Click here to read rave reviews for Kids Talk Politics from the LA Times, Reuters, The CW, Education Magazine, Pepsi's PopTub, YouTube's political page CitizenTube and more.

Because of "Kids Talk Politics" I have a lot of kid-fans who I had the honor to interview while filming a documentary about the 2008 election all across America. So I'll tell you, little pals, this blog is not for you. It's a full of a lot of silly grownup stuff better suited for your parents than you. So unless you have mom and dad's permission, please hang out with me at my family friendly page:


My 7 years in Hollywood begins in St. Francis, Wisconsin, where I was born in 1952 to two amazing people, Bill and Georgiana Sheetz.

To the left are Mom and Dad when I was only a twinkle in their young lover eyes. A striking couple, they always looked like they just walked off the silver screen.

I hope you enjoy my blog. You'll learn just how tough Hollywood really is, doubly so starting at age 50. As you can see, I won't be holding anything back. I might change a few names to protect the litigious, but everything here is 100% fact, at least from my point of view as an unstoppable artist.