Tinseltown Tales: Catching Up With the Missing Link

It has been an American dream to go west and to find one’s fortune…

 

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It is exciting when you know people who have done just that…

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There are interesting people from Sevierville, but I would put this person near the top of the list. If you enjoy travel, television, photography, and exotic locales then follow this SCHS grad for some amazing adventures on both sides of the silver screen.

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Over Christmas break, I had an opportunity to catch up with an old friend who has relocated to Los Angles for work. Jared Link graduated from Sevier County High School and moved to find a career in show business. What a great interview!

Jared has given me permission to share some of his tales and social media photos in this story.

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We met at SMS Espresso in December to catch up. ( They have the best skim lattes!)

 

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Jared is so lucky that he has a job that requires travel and beautiful locales! I am envious!

Here is how it started…

Jared took drama classes at Sevier County High School with Sheley Rose and performed skits for his Spanish teacher on several occasions, including a state Spanish Feria competition. After graduation, Jared really ‘caught the acting bug’ and wanted to try his luck so he moved to Los Angeles to look for roles.

Over the years, Jared served as an ‘extra’ in various productions:

  • A member of the White House staff who walked through the hallway in The West Wing. 
  • An extra in a bar scene for Will and Grace. 
  • A jailer in the original CSI 
  • A newlywed in a casino in CSI
  • A terrorist in the first season of 24.  

Story!     Jared played ‘Ivan the Terrorist’ in 24 and got to punch Keifer Sutherland. He felt bad about it, but Sutherland wanted it to look realistic so he asked him to punch hard. Later, Jared walked by Dennis Hopper ( also starring in that production) who asked Jared if he punched Keifer hard. When Jared affirmed it was a hard punch, Hopper smiled, slowly nodded, and replied, “Gooooood.”

Jared stayed busy with small roles and eventually earned his SAG card.

To keep working, Jared took a job as a ‘gofer’ for the Fear Factor reality TV show. Soon, he started doing camera work and was noticed because it did not bother him to shoot the gross scenes during production. The directors called him to shoot more seasons; consequently, Jared served in higher positions with each production.

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Fear Factor started on NBC and then moved to MTV so Jared saw versions for both networks and worked with both hosts, Joe Rogan and Ludacris.

After Fear Factor was cancelled, the directors respected Jared’s technical skills so he continued filming reality shows such as Wipeout. In that wacky show, he served as a specialty camera man and worked the robotic cameras. Jared was amused by the show and told me that the water was really cold!

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Directors knew Jared so they kept hiring him for more camera work on shows such as:

  • True Beauty
  • Iron Chef
  • Guy’s Grocery Games

When possible, Jared kept auditioning for acting jobs and landed more roles. He worked on a reality show called “Kicking and Screaming”  in Fiji and another one with the Rock / Dwayne Johnson called “The Hero” which was shot in Panama.

 

However, Jared’s camera skills had also expanded to drone cameras so his work was highly valued with directors who needed overhead shots in beautiful locations.

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Soon, Jared started working on some of my favorite shows on Bravo: Below Deck, Below Deck Mediterranean and Below Deck Sailing Yacht. It is a lot of work, but these jobs gave Jared an opportunity to travel to locations such as France, Thailand, Greece, and Spain.

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These shows follow yacht crews and the wealthy clients who book vacations in some of the most stunning scenery in the world. These Bravo shows feature beautiful water, views, stunning sunsets, and anything that you would like to eat or drink while enjoying your time on board. It is a feast for the eyes and senses!

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If you enjoy travel, only one episode will get you hooked on Below Deck Sailing Yacht! It  quickly became a hit showing a different type of sailing experience with Corfu, Greece as the background. The season is ending soon so catch the last episode on Bravo.

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For this production, Jared works with 20 cameras that film action on the yacht, following the guests and crew. Camera work is on land and sea.  He generally works evenings from 3:00 p.m. to early morning hours.

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This new franchise films an 180 ft sailing yacht based in Corfu, Greece. Excitement builds when they raise the huge sails and use the wind for power. The photo above shows the steep tilt that sometimes happens aboard when they set sail. These are some of the exciting moments on “Below Deck Sailing Yacht.”  I would be clutching a rail for sure!

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After a show is finished, production crew are allowed to post photos of their location and memories. Before then, it is top secret!

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Studying Spanish in high school comes in handy!

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What a wonderful view and work place!

 

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Down time allows moments to see the sights and visit nearby towns.

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Jared lived in the Smoky Mountains for years so he visits his parents when he has time off. He enjoyed being home over the Christmas holidays, which allowed us to catch up.

As we finished our visit, I learned something special about Jared that I did not realize before. While a high school student, Jared wrote a short story for his Junior English class and presented it to his teacher, Melinda Derrick. The story was called “Christopher’s Tree.” Later, Jared’s father, local musician, Malcolm Link, expanded on the story and had it illustrated by local artist Andrea Wilson. Malcolm printed several copies and surprised Jared with the book. This is not typical for high school students to write a book when just assigned a story. To my surprise, Jared presented me with a copy during our meeting and I was delighted. Such creativity!

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This is a picture of the book cover, illustrated by local artist Andrea Wilson.

As our meeting grew to a close, I got to ask Jared questions about the Bravo shows, photography, and drone cameras. Here, he is showing me some tricks on his Apple watch.

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Sevierville is a small town, but there are many talented people who start here. Sevier County High School has also graduated many a fine young person who has gone on to do amazing things, this is clearly a success story. Jared Link still intends to pursue acting and more traveling abroad so stay tuned for more tinseltown stories.

Jared has advice for those who are wondering what to do with their lives. “People think that you need college, but I learned from doing things ‘hands on.’ Follow your dream and have a good attitude.” Indeed, it could be said at every graduation.

“Dare to live the life that you always wanted.”

Sevierville Teacher Honored at Clarence Brown Theatre: Remembering Our Own ‘Blithe Spirit’

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Once upon a time, there was a beautiful young lady who grew up in Sevierville and was highly talented in the Arts. Deborah Webb attended Sevier County High School and later, the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. While a student at UTK, this talented young lady appeared in several productions at the Clarence Brown Theatre, including the part of Edith, the maid in Blithe Spirit.

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Here is an actual photo from the Clarence Brown production with Deborah Webb, pictured on the far left in the role as Edith the maid.

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I found this college photo of Deborah playing Babe in the play Crimes of the Heart at the University of Tennessee Carousel Theatre.

After college, Deborah taught drama at Sevier County High School for years, sharing a love of theater with her students. She was loved by students and respected by faculty and staff at SCHS.

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As time went on, Deborah continued to practice her craft by starring in Knoxville productions which were enjoyed by her family, friends and colleagues.

 

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In February 2017, several colleagues from Sevier County High School attended Deborah Webb’s performance in Love, Loss, and What I Wore, a delightful comedy with a female cast at the Pellissippi State Theatre,.

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I was lucky to attend the play with these ladies. Deborah Webb had comedic timing that we enjoyed in her plays; consequently, this was my favorite performance by our friend. In fact, Melinda and I still talk about this play and some of our favorite lines from the show. Pictured left to right are Kristie Atchley, Melinda Derrick, and Kim McMahan.

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Deborah Webb passed away last year and we have missed her very much. It was important to do something to remember and honor our favorite local actress…

Fast forward to Febuary 23, 2020 at the Clarence Brown Theatre…

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Family and friends united to honor Deborah Webb with a seat plate dedication after a recent production of Blithe Spirit at Clarence Brown Theatre.

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The event was planned by Melinda Derrick, English teacher at Sevier County High School. Melinda is a colleague and friend of the actress.

Melinda explains, “After Deborah Webb, our friend and colleague, passed away last June, we decided to remember her by  having a nameplate placed on one of the chairs at the University of Tennessee’s Clarence Brown Theatre.  Deborah studied and acted at U.T., and after completing her degree, she continued enjoying Clarence Brown and Carousel Theatre productions with her daughter Ryah.

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Melinda continued,” Deborah also acted in a number of plays in Knoxville including The Heidi Chronicles at the Knoxville Museum of Art; Love, Loss  and What I Wore at Pellissippi State; and her final play Dog Act at Knoxville’s Flying Anvil Theatre.  Deborah was also Sevier County High School’s drama teacher for several years, so it seemed only fitting that we honor her memory in this personal way. “

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 “After deciding on our remembrance and contacting Clarence Brown Theatre personnel, we got to work collecting donations from Deborah’s friends and colleagues, and upon Ryah’s suggestion, on Sunday afternoon, February 23, a group of Deborah’s friends, her daughter, and her mother enjoyed Clarence Brown Theatre’s final production of Blithe Spirit, a play Deborah acted in during her tenure as a U.T. drama student. “

The Event

Friends and family of Deborah Webb met in the theater lobby for Blithe Spirit on Sunday, February 23 for the matinee performance.

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Ryah Parkhurst and her grandmother were special guests for the event. Patricia is Deborah Webb’s mother. Ryah is the daughter of Deborah Webb and also a graduate of the University of Tennessee with a degree in Linguistics and Russian.

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Next, we met Nancy and Michael Hodges. Michael is a retired teacher from Sevier County High School, teaching classes in both English and Music Theory. He now serves as the Director of Music for First Baptist Church in Gatlinburg.

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Jim Overholt, a friend and colleague of Deborah Webb, enjoyed Blithe Spirit with his wife Jill. Combined Studies Studies students at Sevier County High School remember Dr. Overholt and his passion for history.

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Melinda Derrick chats pre-show with Dr. Overholt, Jill Overholt and Patricia Webb.

 

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Clarence Brown seems to look down upon us with approval as we headed toward our seats to celebrate the career of our friend, Deborah Webb.

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We found our seats and prepared for the show. In 1941, Blithe Spirit was a smash hit in London, on Broadway, and finally, in film. In the zany comedy,  a novelist and his socialite wife invite another couple to dinner as well as a local clairvoyant to provide entertainment. Things quickly get out of hand when the author’s first wife, now a ghost, shows up on the scene. Playwright Noel Coward’s lines are quick and witty so it was a delightful performance. Time stood still on a Knoxville Sunday afternoon at the theater.

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At the end of the play, we waited for the crowd to clear out and prepared for the chair dedication. You can see the chair in the second row covered with the red material and ready for presentation.

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Clarence Brown Theatre Director Tom Cervone was ready to speak to our group and initiate the chair plate presentation ceremony.

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Our group felt solemn as we saw the draped seat in front of us.  The technical cast cleared the stage in the background since it was the final performance for the show.

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Clarence Brown Theatre Managing Director Tom Cervone spoke to our group after the play and remembered Deborah as a friend and a good actress. He recalled several plays during their time together at CBT and an out of state festival that held good memories. Like the rest of us, he expressed his sadness, but celebrated Deborah Webb’s dedication and career on the stage. Seated for the dedication from left to right: Lauren McCarty, Latin teacher at SCHS; Ryah Parkhurst, Patricia Webb, Jill Overholt, Jim Overholt, Michael Hodges, Nancy Hodges, Sheley Rose, retired Speech and Drama teacher at Sevier County High School; and Melinda Derrick.

Director Tom Cervone removed the curtain to reveal the special seat plate dedicated to Deborah Webb.

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Not coincidentally, Deborah Webb’s seat plate is located next to the seat dedicated to Dale Gilmore, a retired colleague from the English Department at Sevier County High School. Dale frequently brought students to see productions at the Clarence Brown Theatre; to wit, a few years ago he also had a seat dedicated to honor his support of education and the Arts.  I looked at the two seats and then the thought occurred to me…

Deborah Webb and Dale Gilmore will now have the best seats in the house. 

Our friend, Sheley Rose, is a colleague and Speech/ Drama teacher who knew Deborah Webb well. Sheley offered her memories and good thoughts of a fellow thespian.

Sheley says, “Deborah Webb was not only my colleague in the Fine Arts Department at Sevier County High School but was also a friend and fellow patron of the Arts. As fellow teachers we promoted and celebrated the Arts in the annual Evening with the Arts program, showcasing student talent in theater arts, visual art, and music (chorus and band). I miss Deborah’s “I Require Art” posts on her Facebook page. Deborah was a caring and loving teacher and friend. She posted on her Facebook page, “I love my work of teaching because it brings me into contact with some fantastic people. Some of the students you can never let go.” She served as a mentor and role model to many of her students. She not only developed their minds and talent but also their hearts and spirits.” 

On a personal note, Deborah and I shared a love of live theater, the movies, dance and books. Our favorite playwrights were Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller, among others. Deborah was a talented actor and especially fond of performing in plays at Clarence Brown Theatre at her alma mater, the University of Tennessee. When I retired in 2007, Deborah gave me a book titled The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, a 20th century African American poet and playwright. I bought a book for Deborah’s retirement in 2019, but, sadly, she passed away before I could give it to her. The book was titled Wise Women, a collection of biographies and photos of wise women through the ages. Deborah Webb certainly deserves a page in this book.

Godspeed, my friend.
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