Star-Studded Production : Video Brings Message to Rape Victims

Times Staff Writer

The message is a simple one, designed to reach silent victims of rape.

Law enforcement officials say there are more than 50,000 cases of rape reported each year. But many other victims remain silent, keeping the pain and frustration to themselves.

Because of this, the producers, supporters and star-studded cast of “Can’t You See Me,” a video documentary that was filmed, in part, in a San Diego Superior Court courtroom Wednesday night and Thursday morning, are trying to show rape victims how they can survive the traumatic experience.


David Blanchard, the video’s director and head of Team Entertainment, a La Mesa production firm, said the idea for the video was born late last year when two rape victims walked into his office and shared their stories.

He was almost “consumed” by what he was told, he said. “There is so much pain that it is unbelievable.”

While taping a scene Thursday at San Diego City College, Blanchard said the purpose of his production was to address the issue of rape and help “the healing process begin.”

In short, the 14-minute video tells the story of a woman who was raped by one of her college teachers. She is married, in her late 20s, and has a young child.

The video, budgeted at $75,000, goes on to show how the woman and her close friend--who was raped by the same man but had not told anyone--obtain victory when the rapist is tried and found guilty of both crimes.

Some of those starring in the video are: Margaret Avery, whose portrayal as Shug in the film “The Color Purple” won her an Oscar nomination; Vic Tayback, who plays Mel, the head cook in the television show “Alice”; Tony Dow, best known for his portrayal of Wally in the 1960s “Leave It to Beaver” television series, and Gordon Jump, who played “the big guy,” Mr. Carlson, in the television comedy “WKRP.”

San Diego County Sheriff John Duffy and KGTV (Channel 10) anchorwoman Bree Walker also appear in the video.

Dan Loeffler, president of World Research, which funds the video, said the film will be released in late May or early June. He said it has been targeted for secondary schools, colleges and rape crisis centers across the country.