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Midnight Return: Sally Sussman talks about Billy Hayes and the film Midnight Express

Midnight Return

From the moment it stunned the world at the Cannes Film Festival in 1978, Midnight Express cemented its place in film history as an artistic and financial success, before becoming an indelible part of pop culture. But its lasting impact has been on Turkish people worldwide who still condemn the film as racist and blame Billy Hayes for defaming them and their country.  Hayes is a writer whose autobiographical book was the basis for film which detail his experiences in a Turkish prison after being convicted of smuggling hashish, and his subsequent escape.  

In a delayed response, Midnight Return, a new film by Sally Sussman, explores the relationship between the filmmakers, Turkish officials and Billy Hayes himself. As the real story rises to the surface, we see Billy attempt to reconcile with the demons of his past and show the Turkish people how sorry he really is for the harm his story and his film ultimately caused.

Director bio:

Sally Sussman Morina was born in Toronto, Canada. She attended the University of Southern California and received a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism. Less than two years after her graduation, Sally was hired as writer on the NBC series, Facts of Life. She wrote several episodes of that series while serving as a staff writer.

After leaving the sitcom business, Sally decided to pursue her lifelong passion for daytime soap operas where she was hired by William J. Bell, creator and head writer of The Young and The Restless as a story consultant and writer, two jobs she held for five years. During her years at Y&R, the series went from number six to number one in the Nielsen ratings, a position it has held ever since. Sally was responsible for many memorable storylines, including Dina’s return to the Abbott family, Jack and Jill’s affair, Katherine’s face lift and Lauren being stalked and ultimately, buried alive. During her tenure, she was nominated for two Emmy Awards.

In 1989 Sally was approached by Brandon Tartikoff, the President of NBC to create her own show and after submitting a bible for the series, Generations was born. Generations immediately earned accolades from the press for creating the first fully integrated daytime serial. The series launched the careers of Vivica A. Fox, Kristoff St. John and Kelly Rutherford and featured veteran performers like Richard Roundtree, Taurean Blacque, Joan Pringle and Robert Hooks. During its two year run, Generations received numerous awards and attention including being written into the Congressional Record. The series was sold all over the world where it still retains a huge following. After its cancellation by NBC, the series was picked up by BET which ran it again. The show may be gone but it is definitely not forgotten.

After Generations, Sally returned to daytime again as the Head Writer of Days of Our Lives. During her tenure, she earned the show its first and only Writers Guild of America award for her storyline involving Sami's execution. Along with that story, she penned the Kristen/Susan murder mystery and the Mike/Carrie love story. She was also nominated for two Emmy awards, won the People’s Choice and the TV Guide awards.

To learn more about Sally Sussman's work visit her site here.

Watch the Trailer here.


Image Copyright: Sally Sussman Morina. Used with permission.

For more information about David Peck's podcasting, writing and public speaking please visit his site here.

With thanks to producer Josh Snethlage and Mixed Media Sound.

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