Onward, Crispin Soldiers

Six years ago, Ryan Page and Mike Pallagi were high school kids who idolized eccentric actor Crispin Glover. Now they're producing films with him.

While Page and Pallagi expect to collaborate on film projects again in the future, Page is producing American Royalty without Pallagi, with the help instead of friend Torrance Jestadt, a highly savvy fund raiser.

So far, shooting for American Royalty has taken place in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, with Karnes and Pomerenke handling many of the celebrity interviews. Beyond his own connections, and those he made with Glover, several of Page's celebrity contacts have come from ex-girlfriend Shannen Doherty.

"She's being helpful now," Page says. "We haven't gotten along always, but she's been very helpful, especially with these sitcomy actress types."

Doherty was also the source of the film's most tempestuous moment, when she visited the scene of a shoot in L.A. three months ago.

"We were interviewing Jonathan Davis of Korn," Pomerenke says. "I guess we did something bad for Ryan. [Doherty] came out and was like fidgeting or something, and digging through some of our notebooks or whatever, and we were throwing popcorn at her, because she was being rude.

"We were all sitting around there, and she thinks she can do that, so I threw popcorn at the back of her hair and she flipped out. And Ryan's like, 'They're my friends. It's Les Payne.' And she's like, 'I don't give a fuck who they are.' She left, and according to Ryan, they haven't spoken much since then.

"She was there to see Ryan, and he was busy doing things, and I think it kinda irritated her."

Pomerenke and Karnes says that among the celebrities they've interviewed, it's been the porn stars who've generally had the most honest, realistic take on what their fame means. The strangest part of the experience has been watching famous people in situations where they don't have the power.

"With a few of them, we actually went into their apartment," Karnes says. "It's odd because you've seen them on the screen or whatever, and now you're in their house and setting up all this film equipment, and they're nervous. They're on the couch with all the lights, and we're totally in control and they're like, 'Was that good?' They're wanting to do good for us."

Page's predilection for the discomforting will also lead him to film a Shakespearean acting troupe composed entirely of burn survivors. At Page's suggestion, they'll perform Grease, preferably at a local theater. He admits that this is one storyline that draws no interest from Karnes and Pomerenke.

"He's really attracted to the macabre and morbid," Pomerenke says.
"In a Hollywood sort of way," Karnes adds.
Page's dark humor has extended to his apparent willingness to take the blame for the JonBenet Ramsey murder, which occurred while he was living in Denver.

"Ryan has a particular affection for that case," Pomerenke says. "It's a sick kind of affection. He's basically admitted to it. He wants to take the fall for it. He e-mailed everyone he knew and said, 'Turn me in. I did it.'

Ultimately, what Pomerenke and Karnes find appealing about Page--his apparent detachment from the very concept of morality--is what they also find somewhat disturbing about him. They joke that Page is the kind of guy who could commit a terrible crime and get away with it, while all his friends end up doing time, because they can't overcome their pangs of remorse.

"I just feel that this will all end in tragedy, and somehow we'll carry on that guilt forever," Pomerenke says of their collaboration. "And [Ryan] will call us from Puerto Vallarta, and say, 'Did you guys ever get over that thing?'"

Contact Gilbert Garcia at his online address: ggarcia@newtimes.com

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