Catching up with Sandra Okamoto: Calliope entertains kids on television and L.A. friends visit

sokamoto@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 5, 2012 

Although I had corresponded with Rachel Einglett Elliott through emails and phone calls for months, I had not actually met her face-to-face until last September at the Shrine Circus.

Rachel, a colorful, happy clown with a rainbow-hued parasol, stood out.

She had grown up watching “Captain Kangaroo” and “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” and found a void in today’s children’s programming. She wanted to return to the happier, gentler times, so she started her own children’s show.

Rachel says Calliope, her character, is a clumsy little clown who is trying to learn how to be a better clown so she can join her father’s circus. She’s helped (and hindered) by her friends, some 30 puppets.

She and her producing partner, Jack Bagley, had been filming episodes in the Lafayette Society for Performing Arts in LaGrange.

They recently moved the company, Calico Cat Productions, to Pine Mountain, where she lives.

“We’re very grateful to LSPA for helping us get started,” she said in a release. “But our studio needs are growing, and we wanted to find a place that can accommodate our expanding production plans.”

You can see “Calliope” on WLTZ-TV 38 at 11 a.m. Saturday in Columbus and on LGTV, the LaGrange city government channel.

“Calliope provides “positive life lessons, morals and values to children in an entertaining setting,” Rachel said.

My L.A. friends

Nope, I don’t mean Lower Alabama. I mean Los Angeles.

One of my holiday traditions is seeing Tom Ford, who’s been working in movie visual effects in California for almost 20 years now.

He’s been working on “Warm Bodies” recently. Tom’s been in Montreal working on the film, which has an August premiere.

Tom says one of the best things so far on set has been working with John Malkovich, whom he says is hilarious.

After his break, I’m not sure he’ll be ready to go back to Canada. Southern California is so warm and Canada is really, really cold and snowy.

At our annual gathering, Tom and I were joined by Jon Hill, another Columbus native and Columbus High School graduate. Jon is a graduate from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

After several years in Atlanta, Jon moved to California, where he works as a writer, director and photographer.

He’s nominated for a Grammy Award for photographing the cover of Chickenfoot’s CD.

Who’s Chickenfoot? It’s a band that includes former Van Halen band members Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony, guitar god Joe Satriani and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith.

Jon’s pretty sure his category won’t be shown on the CBS-TV broadcast Feb. 12, But we can still cheer for him, right?

Sandra Okamoto, sokamoto@ledger-enquirer.com or 706-571-8580.

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