NY Post's Page Six: Photographer's 8-year sentence for pot draws protests




By Richard Johnson

Hardened tabloid-TV veterans are protesting the harsh treatment of a New Jersey wedding photographer caught growing 17 pot plants.

Jon Peditto (the son of John Parsons Peditto, former news director at Channel 5’s “10 O’Clock News” and co-creator of “Hard Copy”) was sentenced Friday in Toms River, NJ, to eight years for drug manufacturing and distribution.

Family members, who are trying to raise $35,000 to hire a lawyer to appeal, say, “Jon is a gentle, compassionate man with no prior criminal record. His only ‘crime’ is gardening without a license.”

Burt Kearns, a former managing editor of “Hard Copy” and executive producer of “A Current Affair,” told me, “If Jon Peditto lived in Colorado or Oregon, he’d be getting an award from the Better Business Bureau instead of facing what could be the rest of his life in prison.”

Kearns blames New Jersey’s “outdated” and “draconian” marijuana laws, and said Peditto is being punished because he declined to cop a plea.

“He’s a brave man. He wouldn’t take a deal. He took a stand against the law,” said Kearns, producer of the pro-pot comedy “High There,” starring Wayne Darwen — also a veteran of “A Current Affair,” “Hard Copy,” and “Inside Edition.”

Darwen said, “Jon’s a gardener, not El Chapo, and El Chapo only got 22 years last time he was sentenced!”

Press Release: HIGH THERE producers ask help funding cannabis activist Jon Peditto's 8-year sentence appeal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:



At least $10,000 needed at JonPedittoDefenseFund.com

HOLLYWOOD  (January 31) The producers and stars of the independent gonzo comedy film High There have issued an urgent plea to fans, friends and colleagues to help fund the appeal for jailed New Jersey cannabis activist Jon Peditto.

Peditto's family and friends are asking for contributions at the FundRzr site: JonPedittoDefenseFund.com.

Peditto, a New Jersey photographer and gardener, was convicted in October of maintaining a drug production facility for growing 17 marijuana plants in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Under New Jersey sentencing guidelines, he faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison.

On Friday, sentencing Judge James Blaney, agreed to handle the first-degree conviction as a second-degree offense "in the interest of justice."  Even so, he sentenced the 54-year old Peditto to eight years in prison. He will be eligible for parole after about two years.

"He no longer falls under Christie's mandatory minimum sentence, but it's still bad," Peditto's father, acclaimed, award-winning journalist, television producer and filmmaker John Parsons Peditto said after the sentencing. "Growing ten plants is a misdemeanor.  That means he's getting about a year per plant."

Peditto was arrested in 2012 and admitted growing the plants for his personal use.  He rejected offers of a plea deal, and used his trial to challenge New Jersey's outdated drug laws. 

"Jon Peditto is a gentle man.  He does not belong in a prison, especially not for a nonviolent crime that would be rewarded in other states," said High There producer Burt Kearns. "I'm really surprised and disappointed that the news media don't find this to be a major story -- especially since Jon's father was a mentor to and influence on so many  people in the news business today."

High There director and star Wayne Darwen, who stars as "Dave High" in the BRINKvision film, called on his fellow celebrities to support the Jon Peditto cause. "More than few celebs from New Jersey like to flaunt their 420 credentials," Darwen said.  "I challenge these stars, including Bill Maher and Kevin Smith, to open their mouths, raise their voices, and open their wallets and raise money to make this right."

"New Jersey's marijuana laws are cruel and unusual, archaic and draconian," said High There executive producer Sam Peters.  "Every casual or occasional marijuana user -- every person relying on marijuana for medical reasons-- is at risk. You could be next."

In New Jersey, marijuana is classified in the top tier of dangerous drugs, on the same level of heroin.  New Jersey's governor and presidential hopeful Chris Christie has said he considers marijuana to be a "gateway drug" and vowed that if elected president, to vigorously enforce the federal marijuana ban in states where it has been legalized.

Darwen and Kearns are longtime colleagues of Peditto's father and, along with fellow director and co-star Henry Goren, have championed Peditto's cause since his conviction. 

High There is rooted in activism, focusing on the case of Roger Christie, the founder of Hawaii's THC Church, who was arrested on marijuana possession and trafficking charges and jailed for four years without trial.  Christie was released to house arrest days after High There's premiere.

Contributions to the John Peditto Defense Fund can be made at

FOR INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS, PRESS MATERIALS, REVIEWS
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Movie Reviews 101: “Party time! HIGH THERE is one to try!"



High There
Director: Wayne Darwen, Henry Goren
Writer: Wayne Darwen (Screenplay) 

Plot: A real-life attempt to film a reality television pilot turned into the most unreal experiences of a lifetime for veteran journalist and producer Wayne Darwen and videographer Henry Goren, when they found themselves transformed into the characters Dave High and Roland Jointz in an accidental immersive investigation of the marijuana wars on the island of Hawaii.  


There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: Party Time

Story: High There starts as David High a journalist and his cameraman Roland Jointz head to Hawaii to shot a new travel show but along the way David enjoys drugs, drinks and woman as they go to make their own story. It isn’t long before David and Roland find themselves being followed around the island as the island looks to clean up the drug problems on the island.

Dave goes around different ideas to make his show work but just can’t shake the drugs every day, where he makes each outing a party. David continues to learn about a bigger problem on the island dealing with marijuana.

High There is a documentary that wants to tackle the real problem of marijuana on the island in Hawaii, we only see small parts of this with most of the film being David High just wanting to smoke drugs and get drunk, this really takes away with what we want to learn about and it turns into just the life experience of the two men on the island. Not being a fan of drug usage I personally didn’t enjoy the almost glorification of using them during the adventure the men go on.


Director Review: Wayne Darwen  Wayne puts together the trip well to show the good, the bad and paranoia drugs cause people.

Documentary: High There is a documentary which also happens to play out as party holiday for David.

Settings: High There uses the Hawaii settings but most importantly showing how it isn’t all beauty we get led to believe.

Suggestion: High There is one to try, it is very heavy on using drugs which isn’t something I enjoy. (Try It)

Best Part: Seeing the dark side of Hawaii.

Worst Part: Too much drug usage.

Believability: Based on the real trip the two men had.

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: Yes

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 27 Minutes 

Trivia: Director, writer and star Wayne Darwen is a celebrated tabloid newspaper and television journalist and producer who was the inspiration for Robert Downey Jr.’s character “Wayne Gale” in Oliver Stone’s 1994 film, Natural Born Killers.

Overall: Documentary that feels like it is a film party for the men involved.

Rating


Press Release: Gonzo film HIGH THERE named one of 2015's Top Ten Documentaries

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:


Controversy as independent comedy is ranked higher than 2016 Academy Award® nominee, Amy

HOLLYWOOD (JANUARY 23) -- A major twist has been thrown into the 2016 Hollywood awards season as the independent nonfiction gonzo comedy film High There has been named one of the Top Ten Documentaries of 2015. 

The accolade comes from the respected independent movie review site, A Bucket of Corn, and has led to great controversy because High There, overlooked by the mainstream documentary community, has been ranked higher than other big-budget, ultra-hyped films, including Amy, the Amy Winehouse documentary that has been nominated for a 2016 Academy Award®. 

A Bucket of Corn’s founder and chief critic, Abraham Phillips, reviewed High There in July and called it “a perfect film.”

In naming High There to the Top Ten list, he writes on the site: "This year was really not that hard for A Bucket of Corn to choose their top 10 films of the year. There was some wonderful Oscar-worthy spectacular films to grace the cinema, but there were those few movies that never get the credit they deserve. That never get the push they deserve because they don't have high budgets or famous people, or the push of Hollywood or the glitz and glamour of the red carpet type persona... 

"To be a true movie reviewer, you have to adventure outside of just Hollywood cinema or the big budget set-up, for there are countless movies that never get the Hollywood push.” 

"We're delighted," the film's executive producer Sam Peters said today in Los Angeles. "High There has touched many people, and an honor like this will only lead others to seek it out." 

Added director and star Wayne Darwen: "We made the Bucket List! Nice!" 

High There is a Sam Peters International Productions Unlimited and Good Story Productions presentation of a Rat Lung picture. 

High There was directed by Wayne Darwen and Henry Goren, and was released on VOD and limited edition DVD by BRINKvision in June 2015. Winner of the 2015 People's Choice Award at the first annual Cannabis Film Festival in Humboldt County, California, the film is available for sale on limited edition DVD on every sales site from Amazon.com to Walmart.com, and On Demand on platforms including Amazon.com, Vimeo.com, Fandor.com, and most recently, Google Play. 

Here are A Bucket of Corn’s Top Ten Documentaries of 2015: 

10. X-Rated: The Greatest Adult Movies of All Time 
9. Batkid Begins 
8. Rammstein in Amerika 
7. Unbranded 
6. Human 
5. Amy 
4. High There 
3. My Brother’s Bomber 
2. Racing Extinction 
1. Matthew Shepard is a Friend of Mine 

Find additional photos and information at hightherethemovie.blogspot.com.

FOR INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS, PRESS MATERIALS, REVIEWS 
CONTACT: Sam Peters 310.663.4061
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HIGH THERE named one of the Top Ten Documentaries of 2015



Several weeks into 2016, amid the Hollywood awards season, comes exciting news:  High There has been named one of the Top Ten Documentaries of 2015.

The accolade comes from the respected independent movie review site, A Bucket of Corn, whose chief reviewer rocked the documentary and comedy worlds last July, when he praised High There as “a perfect film.”

Now, High There is listed in the #4 position -- ahead of Academy Award nominee Amy and other, big-budget, ultra-hyped movies.

Writes A Bucket of Corn’s critic, Abraham Phillips: "This year was really not that hard for A Bucket of Corn to choose their top 10 films of the year. There was some wonderful Oscar-worthy spectacular films to grace the cinema, but there were those few movies that never get the credit they deserve. That never get the push they deserve because they don't have high budgets or famous people, or the push of Hollywood or the glitz and glamour of the red carpet type persona...

"All movies don't have to be put out by Hollywood or the elite makers of cinema, for movies are movies.

"To be a true movie reviewer you have to adventure outside of just Hollywood cinema or the big budget set up, for there are countless movies that never make it to the big screen, that never get the Hollywood push.


A Bucket of Corn’s Top Ten Documentaries of 2015
10. X-Rated: The Greatest Adult Movies of All Time
9. Batkid Begins
8. Rammstein in Amerika 
7. Unbranded
6. Human 
5. Amy
4. High There
3. My Brother’s Bomber 
2. Racing Extinction 
1. Matthew Shepard is a Friend of Mine

High There is a Sam Peters International Productions Unlimited and Good Story Productions presentation of a Rat Lung picture.