If you ask playwright and director Del Shores where he’s from, he’ll promptly tell you that he’s from Winters, Texas.
But he’s also got Brownwood ties.
Throughout his career, Shores has been known for bringing his hometown to life on stage and screen.
Shores, who has written and directed movies like “Daddy’s Dyin’ Who’s Got the Will,” is working on a sequel to “Sordid Lives,” released in 2000 and set in Winters called “A Very Sordid Wedding,” also set in his hometown.
Shores was born in Winters in 1957 and says that he is probably the most famous guy to come out of Winters “that nobody knows about.”
Shores, who lives in Hollywood, has written and produced several television series, including “Queer as Folk,” “Dharma & Greg,” “Ned and Stacy,” “Touched by an Angel” and “Maximum Bob.” He is also known for his standup comedy, and much of his material comes from his roots which are planted in rural West Texas.
His mother Loraine Shores and father William David Shores were both from Lawn, and met at Jim Ned High School and later married and moved to Winters where he was born and lived until the age of 6. The family then moved to Brownwood, where he attended school through the fifth grade before moving to south Texas. While the family lived in Brownwood, his father attended Howard Payne University and eventually became a Baptist minister. Meanwhile, his mother earned a degree in drama at HPU where, he says his love of the theater began.
“I fell in the love with the theater, at Howard Payne University. We would take our homework and kneel on the floor and do our homework so I could watch the plays being rehearsed,” Shores recalled in a recent telephone interview. “Back then there was a couple named Forbes Woods and April Nash and they were the stars of every play.”
He tells the story that when his mother went with his father to an HPU function, a woman approached her and asked her what she was going to school for. Lorraine politely told the woman that she was a housewife and that it was her husband who would be attending HPU. The woman then told her “you do realize it is not a sin to be ignorant, but it is a sin to stay that way.”
“My mother went home, prayed and the next day she enrolled in drama,” Shores said. “They found out she sewed and they put her to work in costume.”
He recalled vividly going to Baptist churches in Brownwood.
“I accepted Jesus at Hillcrest Baptist Church and we went to Coggin (Avenue Baptist Church),” he said.
“Sordid Lives,” is considered a cult classic and starred Bonnie Bedelia as Latrelle Williamson, Olivia Newton-John as Bitsy, Beau Bridges as G.W. Nethercott, Beth Grant as Sissy, Delta Burke as Noleta Nethercott and Leslie Jordan as Earl “Brother Boy” Ingram.
“Sordid Lives” tells the tale of a colorful family from a small Texas town that must come to grips with the accidental death of the elderly family matriarch during a clandestine meeting in a seedy motel room with her much younger, married neighbor. The woman’s family must deal with their own demons while preparing for what could be an embarrassing funeral.
Shores says that he is proud to be from a small rural West Texas town and that has been an inspiration in almost all of his writing and projects. Even, “Daddy’s Dyin’ Who’s Got the Will,” released in 1990, was set in the area — first in Winters, but the movie was eventually set in Lowake, since one of the main scenes is set in a bar, and there was no bar in Winters back then.
“A Very Sordid Wedding,” was actually filmed in Selkirk, Manitoba, Canada and picks up 16 years after the events of the first film and deals with the impact of the advancement of same-sex marriage in the conservative, southern community. Several actors from the original “Sordid Lives” film are reprising their roles, including Bonnie Bedelia, Leslie Jordan, Newell Alexander, Sarah Hunley, Rosemary Alexander, Ann Walker and Kirk Geiger. Joining them from the Sordid Lives series are David Steen, David Cowgill and Caroline Rhea. Shores also announced that several new actors would be joining the returning performers. In Spring 2015, Whoopi Goldberg was added to the cast as Ty’s mother in-law.
Shores wanted to get all the details right — not just the cast of characters, but the location. As it turned out, Selkirk, Winnepeg, was a dead ringer for Winters, from the convenience store, to Main Street to the little country Baptist church and even down to a news stand filled with issues of the Winters Enterprise — the set was carefully planned.
“It was a place in Winnepeg where it is so amazingly cheap to shoot there, we got a great deal. The town looked like Winters. When I saw that downtown, I said where is Heidenheimer’s? Shores laughed.
Shores said he decided to do the sequel after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the decision approving same sex marriage and he hopes that with a little bit of laughter, he can send a more serious message of acceptance, equality and love.
“The movie is about what happens when equality comes storming in to rural Texas,” Shores explained. “I don’t think anyone should be discriminated against. That is the kind of hypocrisy I wanted to point out. I did it to make people think. I want them to think and love a little bit more.”
Shores raised the funds for the independent via an Indiegogo campaign. Filming wrapped in Canada about a month ago, and the final scenes are being filmed in Dallas. The film, owned by Beard Collins Shores Productions, is set to be released by the end of the year.
“We already have several people who are asking to distribute the film,” Shores said. “We are blessed with abundance.”
Shores said, he never thought he would return to make a sequel to “Sordid Lives,” because of legal battles with the television show that followed the movie.
“It was just a nightmare,” Shores said.
But after going on tour with his standup comedy, he found out how much the characters were loved.
“I wanted to see what happened to the characters and how they had evolved and when the Supreme Court decision was handed down, then we really wanted to tackle that subject matter because it is near and dear to my heart,” he said.