Cast continues to grow in Rockford-based sitcom

Braxton Cosby
Braxton Cosby

Staff Report

Adding to the already star-studded cast, including famed actor Stephen Baldwin (The Usual Suspects, Bio-Dome, Celebrity Apprentice) and four-time Grammy Award winner John Schlitt (lead singer, Petra, formerly of Head East), Rock And A Hard Place TV announced via Facebook that they have added Braxton Cosby, of Cosby Media Productions, to the cast as the Worship Leader for Solid Rock Church, the church headed by Pastor Darren Keaton (Baldwin) in the series.

The producers feel Cosby is a perfect fit for the series, citing a statement from the actor, producer, author and doctor of physical therapy’s website, which mirror’s the production team’s goals for the series: “Braxton Cosby is a dreamer with a vision of continuously evolving and maximizing the untapped potential of the human spirit. Braxton received a lot of his inspiration from watching the accomplishments and exploits of his famous uncle, comedic legend Bill Cosby.”

The producers echo his sentiments: “Our goal for this series is to bring family-friendly, grounded, centered comedy to living rooms across the country … around the world even! We want to reach and appeal to a large mainstream audience, but stay centered on our message of acceptance of each other despite our differences and shortcomings; at the same time, we want to inspire viewers, as we’ve been inspired, to work to overcome adversity and their own innate flaws … to strive to be better.”

In this quirky sitcom, recently widowed Pastor Darren Keaton (Baldwin) is struggling to raise his young biracial daughter (Berkeley Clayborne) alongside his adversarial live-in African-American mother-in-law when he inherits Hard Knocks Bar and Grill from a close friend and parishioner. Will his already dwindling congregation at Solid Rock Church support him in honoring his dear friend’s final request: that he take over as owner and operator of Hard Knocks?

The series is most often described as faith-friendly, and it is, but the team is quick to point out that the best way to describe the content would have to be as wholesome and family-friendly. It is with this in mind that the production team has turned to Kickstarter, a crowd-funding site, to fund the startup of this series. With stars like Baldwin, Schlitt and Cosby attached, the natural course of action would be to turn to a network to fund the pilot episode; but the producers fear attaching so quickly to a network could impede their ability to shape the content and keep the message intact.

We need to approach networks with network-television quality footage in hand, and proof that viewers want to see this series; pledging just $1 seems like such a small contribution, people don’t understand its importance!” the producers have said. “Pledging that $1 is like signing your name to a petition saying you want to watch this series! And when we turn to networks, they will take notice of that number (total number of backers on Kickstarter)!”

What exactly will the Kickstarter fund? In part, it will help the team to promote the project to networks; some expenses for promotional materials, meetings, and associated legal and accounting expenses will be covered.

What about footage? That all depends on the following:

1. At the $50,000 funding level, the project’s minimum goal on Kickstarter, the team will be able to make a comprehensive short film in the Rock And A Hard Place world. About 10 minutes in length, this short film will show networks the potential of the project, cast and crew, and will also be submitted to film festivals around the world, building the fan base and buzz about the project.

2. At $100,000 (first intended stretch goal), the team expects to extend that footage to the length of a half-hour pilot, approximately 22 minutes.

3. At the final stretch goal of $300,000, the team will be able to film the hour-long pilot episode in its entirety and promote it to networks ready to air.

The production team kicked off the campaign Dec. 16 with a Kickstarter Launch Party with an overwhelming crowd in attendance at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Rockford, where fans gathered to meet and greet with the stars, including Baldwin and Schlitt, in addition to participating in an open casting call in hopes of joining the cast. Over the two-and-a-half-hour event, nearly 400 “Facebook shares” were clocked, getting the campaign off to a strong start. However, the project is still in need of much support. With 24 days remaining in the campaign, the project has reached 41 percent of its minimum goal, and has 94 backers.

Kickstarter links: and Facebook: Twitter: @RaaHPTV.

From the Jan. 1-6, 2014, issue

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