VM Productions
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Crew Member Leaving

By Timothy Starkweather

In another line of strange occurrences plaguing the production of VM productions' "Notes from the New World,” Assistant to Director Colin Walsh has left the show citing outside—possibly mafia related—harassment.

The production has already been delayed by the disappearance of Robert Hurley, a playwright whose initial idea for "Notes" was the basis for the screenplay by director Vitaly Sumin. The original copy of the shooting script was given to Hurley by Sumin for a quick read-through, when Hurley suddenly vanished, taking the script with him. Several attempts to contact Hurley failed, but Walsh and several crew members made their way into his apartment and retrieved several messages. These messages, addressed to Hurley, were obviously from agents of the Russian Mafia threatening Hurley because of his script containing certain "codes" revealing something about the Mafia's inner workings.

"We don't know what these 'codes' are," said set PA Kellie Yackee. "But it's obvious someone doesn't want them exposed."

Almost immediately Walsh began receiving threatening e-mails, telling him to stop any more searches for Hurley and his findings. When Walsh continued his work with the film, two men accosted him near his apartment, using not only physical force but threats to frame him for breaking and entering Hurley's apartment. This clinched Walsh's decision to drop the film.

Walsh was months into pre production of the film, helping director Sumin and casting director Rich Crater gather cast and crew members together, and helping set up rehearsals inside "The Theater Hub," a small but highly respected live theater in Los Angeles. There was some suggestion via Hurley's threatening messages that the owners of the theater might face possible threats by the mafia for taking part in the production, but these assertions were not made clear.

"Notes," a modern day story based loosely on Dostoyevsky's "Notes from the Underground," deals with an actor obsessed with the main character in "Underground," and invites a Russian call girl to his apartment. The girl hides the key accessing millions of mafia dollars in the actor’s closet, but has it stolen by a Mexican immigrant who watched everything through the window. This leads to a desperate search for the key and the money, resulting in death, threats and a new beginning.