"I Adore Dolores" - TV pilot
We are raising funds to shoot the pilot episode of I Adore Dolores, a TV series created by Sam Marine, Jo Roueiheb and Emily Wilson. Read all about it below...
I Adore Dolores is a sitcom following Dolores Houker, a zany midwestern housewife on a path of self-discovery. Following her divorce from the world’s most famous burger mogul and clown, Rormald McDormald, Dolores struggles to mend her broken heart. When she discovers that her estranged stepdaughter, Dorma McDormald - America's favorite party clown / hot mess - has been put under house arrest for public indecency, Dolores siezes the opportunity to repair their relationship. On a whim she uses all of her divorce settlement to buy Dorma's apartment building and take over as landlord, moving in with Dorma and finding a sense of purpose. But Dolores may have bitten off more than she can chew with the apartment’s quirky tenants, puppets, talking walls, musical numbers, and the brazen, never-working superintendent, Tony Clifton. Not just your typical Odd Couple-style comedy of clashing roommates, I Adore Dolores is about picking yourself up after you’ve hit rock bottom, and maybe - just maybe - flying higher than you ever thought possible.
Our episode begins with Dolores at a self-help seminar, struggling to quell the pain and emptiness that her divorce from her famous fast-food clown husband, Rormald McDormald, has left her. While there, Dolores is inspired to use her entire divorce settlement money to purchase a rundown apartment building in Bridgewood, Queens where her estranged step-daughter, Dorma McDormald, resides under house arrest.
Dolores immediately shows up on Dorma’s doorstep, announcing her new role as landlord and roommate, and is met with some initial resistance from Dorma. To make matters worse, being a landlord without any experience is shaping up to be more difficult than Dolores’s fever-dream led her to believe, and after failing to collect rent from any of the tenants, as well as facing numerous repairs to the dilapidated building, Dolores begins to doubt her decisions.
In the basement, Dolores laments her problems and wishes “If only these walls could talk” - if they could, maybe she could discover the secret to being a great landlord. And SURPRISE, these walls DO talk! As it turns out, Ms. Mary Feaney, the building’s first ever landlady, haunts the building though the walls. Mary Feaney informs Dolores that there is a curse on the building, and there will continue to be obstacles with maintaining the place until the curse is lifted. Unfortunately, Mary Feaney speaks mostly in confusing Irish riddles, so Dolores has trouble figuring out how exactly to lift the curse.
Meanwhile back in the apartment, there is a knock at the door. Dorma reluctantly answers it (she hates doing anything that involves work) and finds that a baby in a basket has been left at the doorstep, but not just any baby, a MAN baby, and I’m not just talking about some 30 year-old comedian who wears too much plaid and doesn’t know how to cook (am I right ladies???), I’m talking about a man baby with a man’s body and a baby’s head. Dorma is NOT happy about this, partially because this means she might have to take care of the kid (which it has been established that Dorma is NOT a fan of work), and partially because having a baby around means that she won’t be receiving the attention that is rightfully hers - which in her mind is ALL of it.
Who is Manbaby and where did he come from? Will Dorma learn enough responsibility to keep Manbaby alive? Will Dolores be able to solve Mary Feaney’s riddles and rid the apartment building of its curse? Find out all this and more (or less) in episode one of I Adore Dolores.
● Dolores Houker, played by Jo Roueiheb, is a mix of Lucy Ricardo from I Love Lucy and Jerri Blank from Strangers with Candy. She is a recently divorced Midwestern housewife from Tallmadge, Ohio who, despite her recent trials and tribulations, is always looking on the bright side of situations while getting herself (and those around her) into shenanigans. She is hard-working and fiercely loyal, and despite having no prior experience as a landlord, is determined to repair both the delapidated apartment building and her relationship with her stepdaughter, Dorma. Her enthusiasm is just about always through the roof no matter how mundane or twisted the task is, like cooking up some “hot water soup,” competing in 1k mall walks, or sewing her name into her stepdaughter’s underwear so she’ll remember her.
● Dorma McDormald found fame at the tender age of 5 when she became the face of McDormald's, her father's burger franchise. However, as she’s aged and lost her childlike charm in adulthood, both the American public and her father have lost interest. Like most forgotten child stars, she desperately seeks attention by partying, acting out, doing drugs and breaking the law. She's currently under house arrest for a mysterious act of public indecency, and puts up with Dolores as her new roommate because she's lonely. She vacillates between being a rough ‘n tough party girl and extremely childlike and naive, literally crying over spilt milk. She is also an extremely accomplished clown - spinning plates on sticks, juggling or riding her stationary unicycle for exercise. It’s in her genes, after all.
● Rormald McDormald is the biggest corporate leader in the world, the Steve Jobs of jokes and burgers, Time’s “Clown of the Year.” Why he ever married Dolores - his second wife - is somewhat of a mystery. Rormald is not physically around much, having abandoned his daughter Dorma to protect his reputation and the McDormald's family name. Flashbacks reveal he was never there for Dorma when she was growing up either, leaving Dolores to tend to her. His first wife, Dorma's biological mother, was a French mime and hasn't been heard from in years.
● Tony Clifton, what can be said? If you had a hunch about Tony being an offensive, misogynistic, retired-lounge-singer-turned-apartment-building-superintendent, then you’re right! Tony is always entering Dorma and Dolores’ apartment to say something off-color, sing a song, then pass off a problem that needs taking care of to Dolores.
● Mary Feaney was an early 19th century Irish immigrant and the building’s first landlord while in her corporeal form. Her spirit is currently living in the walls of the apartment building. Mary reveals herself when Dolores ponders about what it would be like “if the walls of this building could talk.” Mary replies, “These walls do talk.” Having been a landlord before, she is a bit of a mentor to Dolores and gives her advice on how to handle her financially delinquent tenants.
The series will be shot like a traditional multi-camera sitcom, primarily taking place in an apartment (living room, bedroom and hallway) which we will build on a soundstage. The style will incorporate nostalgic throwbacks like breaking the fourth wall to plug a household product, and the glorious Technicolor palette of the 60s. Reminiscent of a children’s show, but with a focus on adult humor, it’s I Love Lucy meets Strangers With Candy meets Pee-Wee's Playhouse. The show’s main theme explores the concept of “phoenixing,” i.e. women starting their lives over and finding independence through various methods of self-improvement and self-acceptance. Along the way, Dolores learns that just because her love life is over doesn’t mean her love of life has to be. With a production created by and starring women, we hope I Adore Dolores will offer a unique feminine perspective on subjects like marriage, motherhood and being a 20-something clown in NYC.
We hope you will consider donating to our show. We're aiming to shoot this in August, so we need your help soon! The funds will go entirely to the production - securing crew and equipment, building the set, and wigs, baby, WIGS! Any amount you can afford to donate will help us bring our dream to life.
● Sam Marine is a writer, director and producer for I Adore Dolores. She is a graduate of the Film Conservatory at SUNY Purchase, where she won several faculty-sponsored awards for her short films, including Most Outstanding Thesis. In her career she has produced independent features, web series including CollegeHumor’s Jake & Amir and Very Mary-Kate, and has produced and directed Telly Award-winning digital content for Condé Nast Entertainment. Her debut feature film, Man Underground, was co-written/directed with Michael Borowiec, and won Best First Feature at the Fantasia Film Festival. It will be distributed by Indican Pictures with a limited theatrical release in the summer of 2017.
● Jo Roueiheb (Last name is pronounced "Smith" JK! It's Roo-eye-heb) is an actor, improvisor, writer, voice over artist and Akron, Ohio native with a degree in Electronic Media Production from Kent State University. Jo will be portraying Dolores and numerous other characters on the show. She has used her filmmaking skills to create comedy videos which have been featured on CollegeHumor, Funny or Die, Huffington Post and Whohaha. As a voice over artist, her work has aired on regional radio, TV and the Luxor Hotel in Vegas. She has been studying and performing improv, sketch and character work with the Upright Citizens Brigade theatre since 2011 and you can currently watch her with her Lloyd team, seventeen, every other Wednesday at 7:30pm at the UCB East Village location.
● Emily Wilson is a writer, director, and video editor from Syracuse, New York. She attended the SUNY Purchase Film Conservatory and upon graduating, moved to New York City to work in video and film. She landed at VICE where she edited a myriad of short and long form documentary content, including the feature documentary, Reincarnated, which premiered at Toronto International Film Festival. Emily later came back to Vice Films to assist and post coordinate the edit of Fishing Without Nets, a narrative feature film, that went on to win the U.S. Dramatic Directing Award at Sundance. In 2016, Emily worked with Viceland on television shows such as Balls Deep and Outsider. Previously, Emily wrote and directed Picnic Table, a narrative film that won best short at Kingston Film Festival.
Jo: Oh man this is the part where I write why I love this show so much and how much this whole thing means to me in a succinct little paragraph with that right amount of charm that makes you think “aw that’s so sweet!” and “What wit! What levity! WHAT A GAL!...” but I’m having a hard time. Ever experience that feeling where you have so much love for someone or something that you think you might explode? You love- if that’s the word for it, but you wish there were other words in the English language to describe this feeling- so much it hurts?... I that this show.
I saw my first episode of I Love Lucy when I was six years old. Maybe it was because my mom kind of looks like Lucy, maybe because it was a happy escape from my dysfunctional family, or maybe it’s because it was hands-down the funniest thing I had ever seen, but I fell in love with it right then and there. I was a grade-A superfan. I would wake up in the middle of the night on school days to catch it on Nick at Nite’s late night programming, I wrote countless school reports on why it was the most important show in American pop culture, I traveled to Lucille Ball’s hometown for her 90th and 100th birthday celebrations and met Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz Jr, I had my memorabilia on display at my hometown library... the list goes on and on... I LOVED Lucy.
My whole life I have aspired to make something half as good as Lucy. I want to make a show that captures the magic wholesomeness of this classic television era, yet breaks boundaries, turns them on their head, and shoves them in your face.
Dolores was an idea of a character I had for a little while, but it wasn’t until an infamous Halloween party that she really came to life. I was freshly out of a serious relationship trying to mend my broken heart when I went to a party where I hardly knew anyone and I brought her along. As soon as the wig, maracas and blood stained button-up were on, there was no taking them off. She was a hit. I felt more alive than I had in months and I knew I had to keep her around. Dolores has helped me find strength in myself when I thought I had none, to believe in myself when I had lost all faith, and to love life when I thought mine was over. I adore Dolores and I certainly hope you do as well.
Emily: I just so happened to meet Dolores the same weekend I met Jo. And I was basically like, more please. No, really. MORE PLEASE!
I’d always been enamored with film and character, but at that particular time I was so desperately craving a creative project outside the sphere of practical, common or even sensical. Nonsense is what I craved, and when Sam and Jo explained the concept of I Adore Dolores I knew immediately I had to claw my way in. It was while the three of us were sitting on a leather couch, beside a bear-skin rug, where we all agreed that I Adore Dolores had to be made. That was about two years ago, and here we are today.
While writing and conceptualizing story ideas, it’s so easy to tell yourself no, but over the course of our time working together on I Adore Dolores, we’ve truly given ourselves the ability to go nuts, while also maintaining the emotional significance that lives within Dolores as she recovers from heartbreak.
Sam: The first time I met Dolores, I was in love. We were at a Halloween party and there she was, mysteriously wearing a blood-soaked men's shirt, asking everyone if they wanted any no-bake cookies, shaking maracas in their faces. There was a perfect storm of wholesome goodness, boundless energy and disturbed insanity that made Dolores both endearing and frightening to behold, and I couldn’t stop laughing all night.
Not long after that, I was hanging out at Jo’s house, looking around at all of her I Love Lucy memorabilia on the walls, and that’s when I saw the light: Dolores deserved her own sitcom! That was over a year ago, and we’ve been working hard ever since, trying to capture everything that we adore about Dolores into a television show worthy of her unique sense of humor, her manic presence, and her giant heart. I still haven’t stopped laughing, and hopefully you will too.
Fundraiser Video Credits (THANK YOU!!!)
Camera & Lighting: Dan Debrey (studio) & Dan Zimmer (Dolores footage)
Sound, Addt'l Lighting, Set Photographer: Michael Borowiec
Dolores Makeup: Sara McGuire
Voice Over: Evan Husney
Title Graphic: Therese McPherson
Music: Zach De Sorbo / Demure For Sure
Editor: Emily Wilson
Special Thanks: Jennifer Fife, Jim Turner