FILM & TV
My absolute favorite is movies – I go to the movies all the time; there’s nothing like sitting in a theatre!” – Jason Raize, Hollywood Spotlight chat
Jason was cast in 1998 as the male lead in Street Dreams, an independent film to be directed by John G. Avildsen (Rocky, The Karate Kid). The film would have marked Jason’s feature film debut, but Street Dreams ultimately never went into production.
Daily Variety announced the film in February 1998; Jason also discussed the film in his TalkCity and Hollywood Spotlight chats. According to these sources, Street Dreams would tell the story of working-class teens competing in annual high school fashion competitions in Hoboken, New Jersey. As the teens create and model their designs, they imagine how jobs in the fashion industry would help them to overcome their socioeconomic statuses. Jason’s character, a Latino model, falls for Angela, an Italian teen working in her father’s tailor shop while creating her own clothing designs at night. Because of the teens’ different ethnic backgrounds, their parents don’t approve of the budding romance. “My character infuses Angela with the desire to follow her dreams,” Jason told Hollywood Spotlight, “and it’s about the desire to get to New York.”
In Daily Variety, Avildsen described Street Dreams as “Romeo and Juliet in Hoboken”; on TalkCity, Jason referred to it as “Kind of like a West Side Story, crossed with Dirty Dancing.” Street Dreams was not intended to be a musical, but once Jason was cast, his character was rewritten to be an aspiring actor/singer as well as a model. This would have enabled Jason to record songs for the soundtrack.
The film had been referred to as Fashion Wars on several film sites. Virginia Clark and Marjorie Short were the screenplay writers; Gene Kirkwood and Norman Stephens were set to produce. The film would have filmed on location in New Jersey and New York beginning in November 1999. Information about why the film fell through is unknown.
Jason starred in the made-for-TV movie The Kitchen, written and directed by Andre Degas (Condition Red). Produced by Independent Television Service (ITVS), The Kitchen premiered on PBS on May 1, 2001.
[TV is] funny for somebody who has worked in theater a lot. To do television or film, your work is frozen and you can’t change it. It’s much different doing a live performance than watching yourself on TV.” -Jason Raize, ZoogDisney chat
Set in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of New York, The Kitchen offers a rare look at an Egyptian family living in America. Jason plays Jamal, a first-generation Egyptian American who wants to pursue a career as a percussionist with his boogaloo band. His immigrant father, Farid (Mark Margolis), wishes instead for Jamal to take over the family boedga. Farid remembers the struggles he faced when he arrived as a young man in the U.S. and refuses to let his son gamble with his livelihood. As Jamal fights for his musical dreams and falls for a non-Egyptian woman, he must come to terms with his father’s past and decide whether he’s really ready to abandon their way of life.
Photos 1-5 appeared on ITVS website (present and past versions). Photos 6-9 appeared on Urban Mozaic Magazine’s website.
The Kitchen is available to rent or buy on Amazon.com and streams free for Prime members. The official trailer appears below::
Keeping it Wild with Jason Raize
Keeping it Wild with Jason Raize was a weekly syndicated television series about wildlife produced by Blue Heron Films. Jason had been appointed a Goodwilld Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme in 1999, and Keeping it Wild grew out of his desire to build partnerships between the entertainment and environmental communities.
In each episode, Jason traveled to a different location to learn about endangered species and other animals in their natural habitats. An older version of the Blue Heron Films website said that Keeping it Wild aired weekly in 192 domestic syndicated markets and 38 countries, was Emmy-nominated, and received several Telly Awards.
Logo 1 appeared on a Jason Raize fan page. Logo 2 appeared on the website for WWAC-TV (Atlantic City, NJ) . Photo at right appeared in a Charles Sturt University newsletter.
According to listings collected prior to 2009 from AOL Television and LocateTV, episodes included:
- The Masai Mara: Lions and elephants in Masai Mara (aired October 1, 2001)
- Hippos: Hippos in the Mara River in Kenya (aired October 8, 2001)
- Crocs: Crocodiles in hot pursuit in the Mara River (aired October 15, 2001)
- Bats: Bats swarm out of a cave to dine on moths (aired October 22, 2001)
- The Great Migration: Africa at Its Finest: Wildebeest gather in the Serengeti to give birth and then travel in herds into Kenya (aired October 29, 2001)
- Primates: An island in the Panama Canal is a sanctuary for monkeys (aired November 5, 2001)
- Cheetah: The fast-moving cheetah is in danger of extinction (aired November 12, 2001 and/or November 19, 2001)
- Rain Forest: A unique view shows the rain forest of Costa Rica (aired January 21, 2002)
- Tasmanian Devil: Tasmanian devils on the islands off the shores of Australia (aired January 28, 2002)
- Dolphins: Costa Rica’s Gandoca-Manzzio National Wildlife refuge is home to bottle-nosed and Atlantic spotted dolphins (aired February 4, 2002)
- Marsupials: Kangaroos, koalas, and wombats (aired February 18, 2002)
- Camels: In the Australian Outback, Camelot is the name of a camel-research base (aired February 25, 2002)
- Penguins: The world’s smallest penguins are on an island off the coast of Australia (aired April 22, 2002)
In a 2004 article in the Cherokee Tribune of Canton, Georgia, Blue Heron’s President/Executive Producer Sue Ann Taylor explained that the company lost funding after September 11, 2001. Though Taylor loved their wildlife programs, Blue Heron needed to branch out beyond wildlife programming in order to stay in operation.
Disney is one of the best companies for entertainment that exists. They have such high-quality work. It’s a lot of fun to work for them, because they have their ducks in a row.” – Jason
Jason provided the voice for the character of Denahi in Disney’s 2003 animated feature Brother Bear. The film was the third and final feature created at Disney’s Florida Animation Studio, which closed in 2004 as Disney decided to concentrate on computer-animated films.
Brother Bear told the story of Kenai (voiced by Joaquin Phoenix), an Inuit boy who kills a bear only to be transformed into a bear himself. When Kenai’s brother Denahi sees a bear instead of his brother, he assumes that the bear killed Kenai and sets out to get revenge. To survive, Kenai must befriend a bear cub named Koda and learn the true meaning of brotherhood.
Brother Bear also featured D.B. Sweeney as Sitka, Kenai and Denahi’s eldest brother; Jeremy Suarez as Koda; Michael Clarke Duncan as the grizzly bear Tug; Joan Copeland as Tanana, the spiritual leader of brothers’ tribe; and SCTV alumni Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas as moose buddies Rutt and Tuke. Phil Collins provided six songs for the film.
Photos above are © Disney.
Coincidentally, animator Ruben Aquino, who served as the supervising animator for Denahi, had supervised the animation of the adult Simba in the film version of The Lion King. In the film’s production notes, Aquino explained, “Denahi was an interesting character because he goes through so many changes during the film in relation to his state of mind and appearance. In the beginning of the movie, he’s very happy-go-lucky and enjoys horsing around with his younger brother. When Sitka is killed by a bear, Denahi becomes more somber and sad. Later, when he thinks Kenai has met the same fate, he becomes angry. There is a lot of emotion, a lot of pantomime. Throughout most of the movie, Denahi doesn’t even speak; so the challenge is to make the audience know how he’s feeling through his actions and facial expressions. As the story progresses, he becomes more and more savage and driven, which is reflected in his costumes and hair. Jason Raize gave us an excellent vocal performance to work with.”
Disney released Brother Bear in theaters on November 1, 2003. A 2-disc DVD release followed on March 30, 2004, and included full-screen and widescreen versions of the film. In a documentary on the widescreen disc, a segment on the film’s vocal talent briefly featured Jason. Brother Bear is now available to stream on Disney+ or for purchase as a 3-disc Blu Ray set that also includes Brother Bear 2 and a Making Of Brother Bear feature believed to be the same as in the 2004 DVD release.