THE REAL DEAL premiered at the 2006 Beverly Hills Film Festival where the jury presented the Best Producer award to Jones. The documentary then made its European debut in Amsterdam as part of the collaborative theater project RIGHTABOUTNOW.NU. The Impact Festival screening marked the New York premiere of THE REAL DEAL.
Jones uses a one man performance by Malpede, recorded at Highways Performance Space in Los Angeles (2003), as the basis for the film. Intertwined throughout Malpede’s multi-dimensional recounting of L.A.P.D.’s story are conversations with past L.A.P.D. participants, clips from 20 years of performances and in depth interviews with homeless activists, government officials and longtime supporters of the theater group, including acclaimed theater director Peter Sellars. By incorporating these elements with scenes from Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles and footage from the unprecedented 2005 hand count of the homeless in Los Angeles County, Jones creates a street level view of the dark, disturbing and frightening world of homelessness that underscores Malpede’s revelation of the “the real deal” at the conclusion of his show.THE REAL DEAL is the culmination of a sixteen year collaboration between Jones and Malpede. Assigned to produce a story on the L.A.P.D. for ABC in 1990, Jones was deeply impressed by Malpede and the mission of L.A.P.D. and approached him about producing a documentary. During the subsequent years while continuing to develop the documentary, they also worked together to create additional events to further the work of L.A.P.D. including a special production “Call Home” staged for the 1993 Los Angeles Festival.
“We are pleased and proud to be part of the Impact Festival,” commented Jones. “John began his work combining art with social advocacy in New York. In fact, the idea for THE REAL DEAL began over 30 years ago with a performance piece that was conceived and executed here, so it is gratifying to screen this film in the city where John’s incredible journey began. I have had the great advantage of spending many hours with John and members of the L.A.P.D. as they have responded to the changing needs of the homeless community. I hope this film illustrates how John’s early inspiration has evolved into an unwavering commitment to giving the homeless a voice and an artistic outlet.” “The story of the film is nearly as long as the history of LAPD. It’s become a part of it,” said Malpede. “Tom plugged away at this with a determination that went beyond a desire to make a film. The REAL DEAL is an expression of Tom’s belief in LAPD and its mission to create community and speak for social justice. LAPD has been called, “an imperfect act of faith”. It only exists because the value placed in it by its members. You put Tom’s belief together with the beliefs of everyone involved, you’ve got one mighty stack of pancakes. You can’t get to The Real Deal by shortcut.”
Los Angeles Poverty Department was founded in 1985 by director, actor, activist, and writer John Malpede. LAPD’s mission is to create performance work that connects lived experience to the social forces that shape the lives and communities of people living in poverty. LAPD was the first performance group in the nation made up principally of homeless people and is dedicated to building community on Skid Row, Los Angeles. Since its founding, the company has offered performance workshops that are free and open to the Skid Row community— partnering with numerous social service and advocacy groups. LAPD has also partnered with communities and arts organizations across the United States to create original works that speak to a range of political issues. Extended residencies have been held in Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, San Francisco, Houston, and Minneapolis, among other cities and the L.A.P.D has staged performances in the Netherlands, Belgium and the United Kingdom.
Tom Jones has produced and directed for NBC, ABC, CBS, Paramount, Disney, multiple cable outlets and syndication. His documentary, “The Search for Amelia Earhart”, (NBC, Carolco) made national headlines when it uncovered a section of the aviatrix’s airplane in the South Pacific. Jones produced all the media for Ross Perot’s presidential campaigns, including the award winning long format programs for which the campaign is famous. He has done extensive work for museums, including “1968: The Year That Rocked the World” for the Newseum in Washington DC and “Reel Justice” for the American Museum of Law. He founded a not for profit organization with Dr. Michael Nobel which creates and distributes arts based educational programs to middle school children. His corporate clients include Countrywide Financial, Starbucks, AARP and Toyota.