But the film's in color, right?


October 24, 2007|By LAURA VOZZELLA

A man who made a fortune dressing women in black and white can afford to dream in Technicolor.

Rick Sarmiento, the former Baltimore Hyatt manager who launched The White House/Black Market clothing chain in 1985, has undergone another professional metamorphosis - into movie mogul.

Sarmiento sold the clothing chain to Chico's in 2003 and went on to start a movie company on Kent Island, where he lives. SarcoFilms just produced its first film, Heavy Petting, a romantic comedy written and directed by Sarmiento's nephew, Marcel Sarmiento. The movie premiered Saturday at the Hollywood Film Festival.

"I like movies," Sarmiento said. "I've always had this, I guess, dream, this nostalgia, to make a movie. I thought it would be a fun experience - the whole Hollywood thing and being creative and all that."

Sarmiento started the company four years ago after his nephew approached him with a script. The family connection is a bit of a "dilemma," Sarmiento said, since it might suggest "some little punk kid whose rich uncle threw him some money so he could make a movie."

Sarmiento said that's not the case. This is Marcel Sarmiento's first feature film, but he has collaborated on some off-Broadway plays. He also attended film school at NYU and, like Woody Allen, had the good sense to drop out.

"I'm not in the habit of just throwing money at things and hoping it sticks," Sarmiento said. Besides, "there's a lot of brothers in Hollywood that work together. You've got the Farrelly brothers. Doing business with your family is not exactly unknown."

The movie is described as a love triangle between a man, woman and her pet dog. It stars Malin Akerman, Brendan Hines, Kevin Sussman and Casper, a mutt who happens to be black-and-white.

Next up for SarcoFilms is another work by Marcel. They hope to release horror movie DeadGirl next year.

Between movies, Sarmiento has managed to take up yet another line of work by opening a restaurant on Kent Island. R's Americantina claims to be "the nation's first and only wood-fired Mexican restaurant."

"I'm supposed to be retired," said Sarmiento, 63. "But I'm doing a lousy job at it."

Pay bills, show up, dance with daughter

Grim state finances and yet another a slots battle aren't the only things on Mike Miller's dance card. Before the special session starts Monday, the Senate president has a date to give away his youngest daughter, Amanda. She gets married Saturday at St. Mary's Church in Annapolis.

Marylanders fretting about the state of the state need not worry that Miller is tied up making Jordan almond party favors or fielding last-minute phone calls from the caterer and band. His wife, Patti, is in charge of all the details.

"I asked him, `Please, just come,'" she said. "`Pay the bills and come.'"

But Miller is sweating the father-daughter dance.

"`That father-daughter dance, make sure it's short and sweet,'" Patti Miller said her husband told her. "`I don't want to look like a fool out there.'"

It's not that Miller is a bad dancer. He's just a big crier.

"He gets very emotional," Patti Miller said. "This is his baby."

The Millers have five children. The first four - a boy, a girl, then twin girls - all arrived in the space of two years and a month. Nine years later, a surprise named Amanda joined the clan. Everyone doted on the baby, the Senate president said.

"She could never tell a lie, never tell a fib," Mike Miller said. "She's a child, teachers would call up and say, `Thank you,'" for sending her to their classes.

Today, the bride-to-be is a special education teacher at Jacobsville Elementary School in Pasadena. The groom, Alan Stokely, is an aeronautical engineer.

Their reception will be in the Senate office building. (No, the venue isn't open to regular citizens, but the Senate president will pay for all the cleanup.)

Gov. Martin O'Malley is expected to attend, along with a few Senate and House members. (Mike Busch did not make the guest list.)

Get the number of that patrol car

The Charles Village Community Benefits District has a "safety team" that looks for lawbreakers. But for months, the group was on the wrong side of the law, patrolling the district in a vehicle with expired plates.

At a meeting last month, Steve Gewirtz, a benefits district board member, questioned executive director David Hill about the plates, which had expired in June.

"His explanation was General Motors is the outfit they lease from and they're waiting for GM to send them a copy of the title to renew it," Gewirtz said. "It just seems strange - it's three months. It can't take three months to get the documents to register a vehicle you're leasing."

Hill confirmed the account, but said he eventually took the vehicle off the road.

The vehicle finally has new tags, but Gewirtz is still scratching his head. "It's very goofy."

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