Terry Morrow: Eyeing Senate race, Park Overall talks of new film 'In The Family'

Park Overall (center) stars in "In the Family," now showing at Downtown West. She will appear at a Q&A session Saturday around 6 p.m. at the West Knoxville theater.

Park Overall (center) stars in "In the Family," now showing at Downtown West. She will appear at a Q&A session Saturday around 6 p.m. at the West Knoxville theater.

In the town of Martin, Tennessee, Chip Hines, a precocious six year old, has only known life with his two dads, Cody and Joey. And ...

Rating: No Rating

Length: 169 minutes

Released: November 5, 2011 Limited

Cast: Trevor St. John, Patrick Wang, Sebastian Brodziak, Brian Murray, Park Overall

Director: Patrick Wang

Writer: Patrick Wang

More info and showtimes »

U.S. Senate hopeful Park Overall isn't quite finished with acting yet.

While mulling over her political ambitions a year ago, Overall, the Greeneville, Tenn., resident who's now challenging Bob Corker for his seat in the United States Senate, got an offer to do the independent film "In The Family." She says the role was exactly the sort of project she's always wanted to do.

"This one is special," she says. "This is the best movie I could ever hope to be in. This is the kind of movie I dreamed of going to Hollywood and making."

"Family" casts Overall as the mother whose gay son has died, leaving a complex legal issue involving his underage son, the late son's partner and the late son's sister. The sister and partner both want custody of the boy.

The law is on the sister's side, though the late son wanted his partner to raise the boy.

The story takes place in Tennessee.

Overall has a small but pivotal part in "Family."

"Finally, I am in a position to be in something I am this proud of," Overall says. "I am not ashamed of other things — though mother never forgave me for 'Precious Victims,'" a TV movie in which Overall played a mother involved in a child kidnapping case.

As for "Family," Overall says, "I can't say it is sad. There is not a dry eye in the house (at the end but) ... it is uplifting."

Around 6 p.m. Saturday at Regal Cinemas Downtown West 8 theater, Overall will appear at a question-and-answer session about the movie.

Acting is not on her career agenda these days. Running for Senate is.

"This is a great adventure," she says of her Senate campaign. "I don't think I have enjoyed anything so much."

She is certainly not the first actor to leap into politics. Ronald Reagan was perhaps the best known to do so, leaving Hollywood movies (such as "Knute Rockne, All American" and "Bedtime for Bonzo") behind and eventually moving into the White House.

In recent years, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson spent years doing films ("The Hunt for Red October") and TV ("Law & Order").

Overall's biggest credit has been "Empty Nest," on which she was a regular for seven years with Kristy McNichol, and "The Critic," the critically acclaimed Fox animated show business send-up that ran in 1995 and starred Jon Lovitz.

Overall decided to run for Senate because she grew tired of sitting on the sidelines.

Mulling over whether actors make for good politicians, Overall says the two share "an affinity for performance as well as language," allowing them to communicate their agendas easier to the public.

And her profile as a network star — albeit from 15 years ago — helped. "The TV history gives me a head start," she says. "Sad, but true."

Her basic platform, from this early part of her campaign, leans toward helping the disenfranchised and the environment. She is also pro-union and pro-gay.

One of her biggest hurdles will be the primary in August.

A registered Democrat, Overall prefers to call herself "progressive" and admits her official political affiliation might not sit well in conservative, Republican-heavy East Tennessee.

Overall says the Democratic party asked her to run. She saw it as a good way to get involved.

However, she has told her peers she may be too liberal for this region, though even that is a notion she isn't quite embracing fully.

"I don't know how liberal I am," she says, "but I am progressive. I am an East Tennessee girl."

Terry Morrow may be reached at 865-342-6445 or morrowt@knoxville.com.

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Comments » 3

noxcounty writes:

she should keep her day job

randolf writes:


ArtSeen writes:

in response to noxcounty:

she should keep her day job

…and you should get one.

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