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Entertainment
'Stranger Things' actor, a UNCSA grad, says working with Duffer brothers like working with Spielberg in the 1980s

Actor Brett Gelman, an alumnus of the UNC School of the Arts, has had to be secretive about two of his biggest projects to date — including “Stranger Things,” the third season of which will be released by Netflix on Thursday morning.

He has a recurring role as Murray Bauman, an intrepid, conspiracy-minded journalist out to expose the hidden truth behind the strange happenings in Hawkins, Ind. The series, set in the 1980s, follows a group of kids who discover an inter-dimensional gateway through which dangerous creatures emerge and which government agents try to cover up. The series emulates classic movies of that time period by such acclaimed directors as Steven Spielberg and John Carpenter, as well as writer Stephen King and others, while also finding a voice of its own.

Gelman can’t reveal much about what his character does in season three.

“I’m in the trailer, so I can say that I’m in it,” he said with a laugh, “I can’t say how much.”

Last month, Gelman was in Winston-Salem to visit his alma mater and spend time with some of the current and former staff members who influenced him, including his mentor, Gerald Freedman, former dean of the School of Drama.

“It’s amazing being back here. I haven’t been back here in 20 years,” Gelman said. “I can’t believe that. I just realized it was 20 years.”

He decided to come back for a weekend trip to Winston-Salem while he was in Charleston, S.C., filming the new season of “Mr. Mercedes,” a drama based on the works of Stephen King. His thriving career as a character actor has kept him away until now.

“It’s so insane,” he said. “I’ve thought about coming back, but it was also a matter of being on the hustle all the time and getting caught up in that. I’ve always sort of been that way. I don’t have kids. ... It was just running, restlessness has kept me away, maybe.”

But he hopes to come back and talk with the students at some point when school is in session and perhaps teach a workshop.

“I don’t know what the workshop would be. How To Be Brett Gelman? And it would just be one class, it would be five minutes: ‘Don’t!’ And then a couple of questions and we’re out.”

Gelman described his experience on “Stranger Things” as “really great.”

“I’m excited. I’ve seen some of it, and it’s phenomenal,” he said.

He enjoyed collaborating with series creators Matt and Ross Duffer, who are known professionally as The Duffer Brothers.

“I mean, I think it’s the closest thing you can get to working with Spielberg in the ’80s, is working with the Duffer Brothers now,” he said. “And the Duffers have their own thing. I don’t think they’re just copying Spielberg or Carpenter. They have this wonderful, different type of boyish innocence than Spielberg did back then. ... Watching Spielberg, you feel it’s an adult remembering being a kid where the Duffers feel like they’re still kids in a way. And it’s really great and exciting to be able to do that stuff.”

Gelman is perhaps best known for his roles in such comedies as Adult Swim’s “Eagleheart,” NBC’s “Go On,” Amazon’s “Fleabag,” Comedy Central’s “Another Period” and FX’s “Married.” But he has expanded his roles in recent years and appreciates the opportunity to do dramatic roles on shows such as “Stranger Things.”

“I always fantasized about being the somewhat comedic character in a sci-fi/action adventure/horror type movie, basically in a Spielberg movie, and I’m getting to do that in this show,” he said.

But the secrecy of filming “Stranger Things” was nothing compared with his role in 2017’s “Twin Peaks: The Return” revival by director David Lynch.

“‘Twin Peaks’ is the most secretive thing that I’ve ever been a part of,” he said. “You got only your pages, hand-delivered to your address, with a non-disclosure agreement that said if you say anything about your involvement in the show.”

Two years later, he said he can talk about some aspects of the show, but even then he’s not comfortable talking about everything.

“I think (Lynch) frowns upon people talking about his process, but I don’t know if I could talk about his process,” he said. “You show up to that set and, when you meet him, you immediately feel his energy, and that sort of inserts itself into that scene.

“He’s such a hero of mine, and it was such a dream of mine to be in something he did ... just to get to do a scene directed and written by him, I had been fantasizing about that for years.”


Columnists
WWI memorial honors patriotic sacrifice

Downtown was up and moving not long after first light Wednesday morning.

Bleary eyed commuters, perhaps hopeful of ducking out early, poured into the city center before 7 a.m. Motorists exiting at Peters Creek Parkway were too busy fidgeting with phones or coffee to notice the panhandler shading himself under an umbrella.

Farther in, near the parking decks and surface lots, construction workers were hopping on job sites. A factory installed car radio provided a soundtrack for the bustle; a record number of North Carolinians are expected to drive somewhere this Fourth of July weekend.

One corner of downtown, at Third and Liberty streets hard by the old Forsyth County Courthouse, was momentarily still.

An ode to the past — an overlooked and mostly forgotten memorial dedicated to local men killed in World War I — sits there amid the rush to build the city’s future.

In remembrance

It’s a simple memorial, a slender flagpole resting atop a solid granite base. A brass plaque, perhaps 18 inches wide by 2 feet deep, is screwed into its face. Sixty-nine names are engraved upon it in alphabetical order from Clinton A. Anderson to John Willis Young.

1917 1918/ IN GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE OF/ THE FORSYTH COUNTY MEN/ WHO MADE THE SUPREME SACRIFICE/ IN THE WORLD WAR

Erected May 30, 1921, by the Women’s Club of Winston-Salem and the Clyde Bolling Post No.55 of the American Legion, the memorial is a fitting, understated tribute to local boys who died in the war to end all wars.

The first of those was Clyde Bolling, namesake of the Legion post. He was born in Waughtown in 1897, and according to newspaper accounts, joined the Army before the United States entered the war. He served in Mexico among other places before being shipped to France.

Bolling was killed May 11, 1918. He was a messenger serving with the First Infantry when a bomb tossed from the cockpit of a German plane exploded near his motorcycle. He was just 20 years old.

He was buried in France, but his remains were repatriated in 1921 and buried in Salem Cemetery. His mother saved the flag used to cover his casket, and it was donated to the Legion post in 1944 after her death in anticipation of it being used similarly for a local killed in World War II.

“It is expected that the first body of a World War II soldier will arrive here sometime after the first of the year (1945) and the Legion at that time will offer the flag to the next of kin of the soldier for use on his casket during the traditional military service,” a Winston-Salem Journal story reads.

Think about that today as you watch a hot-dog eating contest or a fireworks display. That’s the true price of freedom.

Misplaced dissent

Like a lot of people, I’d never given the World War I memorial much thought. I barely even knew it was there.

That changed with the storm of division and protest over another memorial, one dedicated to the Confederate dead a block farther north at the old Courthouse.

A tiny undercurrent of dissent voiced by a lone supporter of the Confederate statue drew me to it: If the city takes down the Civil War memorial, then it ought to take down that flagpole and plaque.

“They can’t treat one differently than the other,” he’d said.

It was difficult to follow the logic then or now.

The Confederate monument was put up next to the courthouse in 1905 — 50 years after the end of the Civil War. Credible, fact-based research shows that similar monuments sprang up across the South during the Jim Crow era to remind black people to mind their place.

World War I — the war to end all wars — was very different. And the memorial to local dead went up two years after its end while the memories of their sacrifices were still fresh.

That memorial, beyond a lone dissenter likely playing the role of a misguided devil’s advocate, hardly divides a community. Most of us don’t even know it’s there.

Today it stands behind fresh, well-tended landscaping built by developers who converted the old county courthouse into housing. The bronze plaque has turned green through the years but otherwise has stood the test of time.

New construction, updates and overhauls are underway in many of the buildings surrounding the forgotten memorial. Change doesn’t have to touch everything.


Crime
Former North Davidson High coach charged with inappropriate relationship with a student, sheriff’s office says

LEXINGTON — The former head coach of the North Davidson High School boys basketball team has been charged with taking indecent liberties with a 16-year-old student at the school.

Detectives from the Davidson County Sheriff’s office received a tip Monday evening about an inappropriate relationship between James Brandon Mullis, 36, of High Point, and the girl, the sheriff’s office said Wednesday.

Mullis was charged with one count of indecent liberties with a student and attempted third-degree sexual exploitation, according to an arrest warrant. A statement released by the sheriff’s office on Wednesday morning described an alleged relationship that took place between Mullis and a student.

There is a discrepancy between the dates in the arrest warrant and the language in the narrative used in the arrest warrant.

The dates of the offense listed in the warrant — June 26 through July 2 — reflect a time period after his tenure had ended at North Davidson. The narrative alleges he was a teacher and coach at North Davidson when the alleged incident occurred. The sheriff’s office hasn’t returned calls seeking clarification.

Mullis tried to get a photo depicting a girl’s genitalia, according to the warrant.

Mark Hayes, the athletics director at North Davidson, on Wednesday afternoon deferred the Journal’s request for comment to Davidson County Schools. According to Tabitha Broadway, a spokeswoman with the school system, there were no additional incidents involving Mullis during his tenure in the district.

Davidson County Schools released a statement Wednesday afternoon, saying Mullis wasn’t employed with the school system at the time of the alleged incident.

“We only learned of this alleged incident and arrest in the last 24 hours,” said a statement released by Davidson County Schools. “However, to our knowledge, and based on what law enforcement has shared with us, this unfortunate incident did not occur on Davidson County Schools property or while Mr. Mullis was employed with Davidson County Schools.”

Broadway said there is currently no need for an investigation from Davidson County Schools, citing limited information that includes a sheriff’s office press release.

However, that could change.

“We have not been given information that it had occurred while he was employed with us,” Broadway said. “At some point, I’m sure we will get a timeline. But we don’t have it yet.”

In addition to Mullis’ coaching duties, which he held since his hiring in June 2017, Mullis was also an Exceptional Children teacher at North Davidson. He resigned from the school in April to accept the head basketball coaching position at Southwest Guilford High School.

For Themus Fulks, a former standout guard on the North Davidson basketball team in Mullis’ final year when the Black Knights finished 24-6 with a Central Carolina 2-A conference title — their second-best season in school history — the news came as a shock.

And he wasn’t alone awaiting to hear developments on the alleged incident. According to Fulks, he’s exchanged texts with former and current players at high schools in the county.

“(Coach Mullis) taught me a lot of things — honoring your word, people are always watching, doing the right thing even when nobody else is around,” said Fulks, who was a senior averaging more than 35 points per game in Mullis’ final season. “I mean, I never knew anything of the incident.

“I don’t know, I’m just speechless about what happened.”

Detectives executed a search warrant at Mullis’ residence in High Point on Tuesday with the assistance of the High Point Police Department and the State Bureau of Investigation. Detectives said they found evidence linking Mullis to the student.

Michael Hettenbach, the principal at Southwest Guilford, learned of the charges Tuesday evening after being contacted by Guilford County Schools. He told Joe Sirera of the Greensboro News & Record that Mullis’ contract as a teacher has expired and will not be renewed, per human resources. His official start date at Southwest Guilford was in May and lasted through the remainder of the 2018-19 school year.

According to Hettenbach, Mullis underwent a background check conducted by Guilford County Schools before his hiring. He said the results were “crystal clean.”

Hettenbach spoke with North Davidson principal Jonathan Brown prior to Mullis’ hiring. Brindon Christman, the athletics director of Southwest Guilford, was in contact with Hayes as well. Marquice Miller, who oversees the school’s Exceptional Children program, was also involved in the vetting process.

“It’s deeply disappointing that I learned last night that a teacher and coach who recently joined our school staff was charged by law enforcement in another county with two crimes involving an inappropriate relationship with a minor unrelated to our school,” Hettenbach said. “Hopefully, that right there tells you how shocked I was.”

Mullis was arrested at his home. He was being held Wednesday at the Davidson County Jail with his bond set at $50,000. He is scheduled to appear in Davidson District Court on July 29.

“We’re figuring out (details) just like everyone else,” Fulks said. “We just, as a collective group, feel bad for the family.”


Crime
Death penalty possible for Winston-Salem man accused of killing, dismembering Winston-Salem couple

Forsyth County prosecutors will be allowed to pursue the death penalty against a Winston-Salem man accused of stabbing a man and a woman to death in their apartment before dismembering their bodies and leaving them in the woods near the same apartment.

Tyrone Donte Gladden, 47, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of dismembering human remains in order to conceal an unnatural death. Gladden was indicted on those charges May 6.

Prosecutors allege that Gladden killed Gary Michael Craig Jr., 36, and Devette Carnetta Campbell, 40, sometime between June 16 and June 30, 2017. Craig and Campbell were dating, and Campbell had just moved into Craig’s apartment at Willow Creek Apartments at 100 Stagecoach Road in northern Winston-Salem. Gladden had been living in Craig’s apartment, according to court documents.

Gladden, dressed in an orange jail suit, appeared in Forsyth Superior Court late Wednesday for what is known as a Rule 24 hearing. His attorney, Vince Rabil, was by his side.

Forsyth County Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Friel presented two “aggravating circumstances,” which are required in order for prosecutors to pursue the death penalty.

One of the aggravating circumstances is that Gladden was previously convicted of a violent felony. Friel said Gladden was convicted of armed robbery in 1992 in Rowan County.

The other aggravating circumstance is that the alleged murders of Craig and Campbell were part of a course of conduct that included other acts of violence.

Judge Todd Burke of Forsyth Superior Court declared the case a capital case in which prosecutors can request the death penalty if Gladden is convicted of first-degree murder. Gladden will be appointed a second attorney.

According to autopsy reports, Campbell was stabbed in the chest and the neck. Craig was stabbed 18 times in the chest and neck.

Winston-Salem police officers were called to Willow Creek Apartments on July 17, 2017, to check on Campbell after her family members hadn’t seen her for a month.

Tomeka Roberson, Craig’s sister, told police Craig had not picked up his children on July 4, 2017, and she had not been able to contact her brother, which she said was unusual.

Police found no one in the apartment, according to search warrants. The apartment had been stripped off all carpeting and carpet padding. Apartment managers told police that they had not removed the carpeting.

Police officers searched outside the apartment and found a human torso in the woods behind the apartment complex. Officers found other human remains and initially believed that they belonged to one person. By July 20, 2017, police determined that the remains belonged to two people and were later identified as those of Campbell and Craig.

A trial date has not been set for the case. It will likely be at least a year before either a trial date is scheduled or a plea agreement is reached.

Gladden is in the Forsyth County jail with no bond allowed.


Courtesy of DCSO 

Mullis


Gladden