Papa Doug Manchester in Hollywood

U-T San Diego owner Doug Manchester appears in a swim-meet scene in the movie Talhotblond, which aired on Lifetime last year.
  • U-T San Diego owner Doug Manchester appears in a swim-meet scene in the movie Talhotblond, which aired on Lifetime last year.

Papa Doug Manchester is in the movies! Actually, you can delete that exclamation point. He makes cameo appearances in films produced by Los Angeles–based Motion Picture Corporation of America. He has already appeared in two of the company’s films: Talhotblond, televised last year on Lifetime, and The Sweeter Side of Life, shown this year on Hallmark Channel. He is slated to appear in a series called The Saint. It’s a shoot-’em-up chock-full of derring-do, macho males, and scantily clad ladies.

Yahoo! Finance says of this film company, “Low budget doesn’t always mean low-brow, but the Motion Picture Corporation [of America] has more than its share of the latter.” Among its films: Beverly Hills Ninja and Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2. Oh.

Realistically, Papa Doug appears to be in mini- or micro-cameo roles. I watched Talhotblond twice before I found him. He could be seen on the screen for one — or, at most, two — seconds. It’s actually a good movie, based on a real incident. A 47-year-old man, loving father of two daughters, goes from midlife crisis to insane jealousy as a result of having an online fantasy relationship with a fetching 18-year-old female who professes to love him. He tells her he is a young Marine in Afghanistan. The middle-aged man’s wife discovers the online affair and banishes him to the garage. But then one of his young coworkers, a close friend, also begins electronically flirting with the young lady. In a rage, the 47-year-old kills the young man. Then, the contrite middle-ager discovers that, all along, he was really conversing online with the teenager’s mother, who, too, is middle-aged. But it’s too late; he is on his way to a long stretch in prison.

Papa Doug gets his 1 or 2 seconds of glory in the first 7 minutes and 48 seconds of the film. One of the daughters is in a swim meet attended by the then-happy family. The camera pans the audience, and there is Papa Doug cheering, flanked by two beautiful females. Then — whoosh — he is gone, never to come back in the film, at least as far as I could determine. I scoured the other group shots and couldn’t find him.

Fifteen people are listed in the credits at the end. The 13th is Papa Doug Manchester, playing himself. Papa Doug is also listed in film publicity and in materials produced by the industry bible, Internet Movie Database, called IMDb.

Manchester also made a cameo in the sugary Hallmark Channel movie The Sweeter Side of Life.

Manchester also made a cameo in the sugary Hallmark Channel movie The Sweeter Side of Life.

The Sweeter Side of Life appears to be a treacly comedy about a privileged Manhattan housewife whose husband dumps her but who finds happiness resuscitating her father’s bakery. It was written by actor/singer and former soap-opera star Michael Damian (who was born in Bonsall) and his wife. The Saint series dates back to the 1960s but will be “rebooted,” in Hollywood lingo, or revamped and revitalized. The comedy was not yet available to buy or rent when I worked on this column, and the latter, being in pre-production, is not available. But the promotional streamer for The Saint features a young vixen, clad in a semi-bikini, directing someone to “the Manchester suite” in a hotel.

How can a one- or two-second appearance merit a listing in the credits? Charles Hauck, longtime Hollywood producer, says there might have been a prior agreement; Manchester could have had other appearances, however brief, that “hit the cutting-room floor.” However, the agreement might have held.

Why would a megamillionaire want a brief cameo role in a movie? Certainly not for the money. “It is fairly common for investors or minor producers to be given little guest cameo appearances as ego ribbons, usually in party scenes. In modern terms, it’s a tweet,” says David Elliott, former movie reviewer for the Union-Tribune and the Reader.

In trying to interview the chief executive of Motion Picture Corporation of America, I was only able to reach his executive assistant, a chap named Vince. I explained that I wanted to know how Papa Doug Manchester got the cameo roles. Was he an investor? Friend of somebody? Something else? Vince promised to get back and never did. I left four messages with him and got no reply. So I called Francisco González, who appears to be a very busy man. He is senior vice president of sales and acquisitions, executive producer of Talhotblond and The Sweeter Side of Life, and co-executive producer of The Saint. Growled González, “I am not allowed to give out any information like that.”

I concluded that Motion Picture Corporation of America doesn’t want to talk about this. I sent queries to Manchester’s assistant. I got nothing back. That didn’t surprise me: in my 40 years of covering San Diego, I can’t remember an instance in which Manchester answered one of my queries.

I think it is a safe bet that Manchester gets into the movies as a perk related to film investments. I contacted people I knew in the industry — producers, critics, executives — and detected either an ignorance of this investor quid pro quo or a reluctance to talk about it.

But an internet check shows that the practice of rewarding investors with cameo roles is not unusual. The Movie Fund helps recruit investors — hedge funds, rich individuals — for various films. One of the lures: “speaking cameo roles,” says the fund. Scarlet Cherub Productions, fishing for investors for The Road to Transylvania, offered as an additional benefit a “cameo role (if you like).” The makers of a flick called Crooked Arrows, about young people playing lacrosse, said a perk would be “consideration for your kids in a cameo role.” Director and screenwriter David O. Russell, hunting money for a movie, attempted to auction off a cameo role with an estimated value of $50,000.

In his promotional material, Manchester does not mention his roles or investments in movies. He lists numerous companies he founded or cofounded, his real estate deals, his multiple charities — but no movies. And his role as owner of San Diego’s major newspaper puts him in the spotlight.

Papa Doug may feel that his movie roles would put him in a spotlight he would like to avoid. Cracks retired critic Elliott, “It must feel strange to be known as Papa Doug when your main achievement is orphaning journalists by canning them.”

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Finally found the full credits--listed as Papa Doug. What a tool.

SurfPup: I would imagine that is the listing the studio gave to IMDb. Best, Don Bauder

aardvark: Yes, listed as Papa Doug. "The Sweeter Side of Life" should be available today online -- at least to buy. I don't know about renting it. I intend to watch it if I have time and see where Papa Doug shows up. Best, Don Bauder

How ever long that movie is, if I were to watch it, that amount of time would equal the amount of time in my life I will never get back. I would rather watch paint dry, grass grow, snails race...

aardvark: As I said, "Talhotblond" is a good movie, I thought, although I am hardly qualified to be a movie reviewer. From what I have read, "The Sweeter Side of Life" is too sugary for my appetite, but I do intend to watch it if I can rent it, and report on Papa Doug's role. Best, Don Bauder

Is that Sarah "Mama Grizzly" Palin on his left?

That's on HIS right, not on the left as you view the picture....on HIS left is the one with the glasses......I agree with you though.

SurfPup: That's one thing everyone on this blog says about you: SurfPup's "got it." Best, Don Bauder

Duhbya: The one on his right is at least young enough to be Bristol Palin. Best, Don Bauder

SurfPup: Y'know, I remember seeing Bristol Palin on the telly at some point, but damned if I can remember what she looks like. Best, Don Bauder

Duhbya: The lady on his left appears to be much younger than Sarah Palin. Best, Don Bauder

Yeah, well, a Papa can dream, can't he?

Duhbya: So much of life is fantasy. Best, Don Bauder

Don: you're the film critic now? I hear Charade is playing at City Hall.

You mentioned Michael Damian - born Michael Damian Weir. His family band The Weirz (six sisters and three brothers) had a song on the KGB radio "Homegrown" album in about 1975 and from their base in Oceanside's Henie Hills (they got kicked out of Bonsall) the Weirz played throughout Southern California and for a time were an opening act for big name performers at the Hollywood night clubs of the era. Michael had a hit record "Rock On," starred in the soap opera The Young and the Restless and starred on Broadway in the revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Beverly Hills Ninja and Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 each cost $12-18 million to make and grossed in the low $30 millions. Hollywood has lots of movies where the numbers are reversed, and lots more with much, much lower budgets.

When I consulted on DVD production I ran across something which said 95% of all completed feature-length films never made it to the movie theaters, instead going direct to cable, VHS (once upon a time), DVD and now such outlets as Netflix. I am sure Manchester's cameos were tied to some sort of investment in this area of the entertainment business: not enough investment to get a producer credit, but enough to get one-second of screen time. Although, now that I think about it, his investment may be acknowledged under the name of a corporation. You need to scan those credits again and look for something that sounds like a division of Papa Doug Enterprises, Inc.

Bob Hudson: I have made no comment on the financial success or failure of the films named. In any case, I am not going to see Beverly Hills Ninja or Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2. Sorry. In checking credits, I never saw any mention of Papa Doug Enterprises. Best, Don Bauder

If Manchester keeps getting his ugly face stretched, he's going to make the Top 10 Worst Plastic Surgery Disasters website.

What a tool. Doesn't he realize what an a$$hole he looks like?

Ponzi: Papa Doug definitely wants to retain his youth. Best, Don Bauder

Papa Doug does look as though he's had a face lift. His hair used to be silver, now it's brown. His hairline looks plugged. Only his hairdresser knows for sure.

Burwell: I have heard rumors of a facelift, but I have no idea if they are accurate. When he bought the U-T, Papa Doug became more of a focus of comment all around town -- and nationally, too. He should realize that. Best, Don Bauder

It was common during the Renaissance for painters to include their patron somewhere in the painting, either as one of the adoring people around Baby Jesus, or in some other scene. It makes perfect sense that there should be a modern equivalent....a patron wants a way to participate, that's all. I just verified my memory on Wikipedia, and was amused by the statement that at a certain point there was almost nothing donors would not do to intrude upon a painting (i.e. they would take any part offered) except be an elder in the Suzannah tale. Another interesting aspect of the article is that the donors did not envision what actually happened: their faces remain but their names are often forgotten.

On the crowdsourcing website,, if you donate a certain amount of dollars you get to be an extra in the film. Pay more and you get to meet the cast, go to the premiere and after-party, get the movie poster, etc.

dwbat: I went over -- twice, in fact -- in writing this and I must have missed that. I saw the after-party, meet the cast, etc. Best, Don Bauder

I only spent $10 on (for Zach Braff's new movie), but it's about the best 10 bucks I ever spent. The cool in-progress videos that we get to see, with personal appearances from Braff, are very cool.

dwbat: I spent $0 on, but I apparently missed something I should have seen. Best, Don Bauder

Yankeedoodle: Do you suppose there is a disguised banker drowning in that body of water behind Mona Lisa? I have only seen the real thing once, and it never occurred to me to look for a moneybags somewhere in the painting. Best, Don Bauder

Don In my Janson, I see a crowd scene in the far distance over her right shoulder (stage left). I should think that perhaps even a bank teller could afford that kind of exposure. Maybe the original, being larger, would show more figures. You will now have to return to Paris to do the research!

Yankeedoodle: Returning to the Louvre would be a great pleasure. But I don't think I am going to see that crowd scene that you see. Best, Don Bauder

Well, Don, I guess instead of Janson I should have consulted an online image, which I can enlarge such that my crowd becomes rock outcrops on either side of the dirt road! Very amusing mote in the old eye.

Yankeedoodle: I confess I only looked at an online image. Show me something in writing from a reliable source indicating that there is a crowd scene behind her. Are those in the crowd holding signs "Due Process" or "Hang the Mayor"? Best, Don Bauder

I wish there was a way for some techie to transfer Papa Doug's image into a crowd scene in a porn movie. Then we here in San Diego could create another bogus sex scandal that would rile up the citizens and get everybody talking about something else other than Bob Filner!

pearljammed: CREATE that sex scandal? Best, Don Bauder

Perhaps he is interviewing and enlisting more actors to join the Filner staff? We'll see in 6 months eh? Lol

strata66: I note you say Papa Doug may be interviewing more actors to join the Filner staff. Did you deliberately omit actresses? Best, Don Bauder

Q: What's the difference between actors and politicians? A: Not much! Both read scripts written by others who are usually more intelligent. Both have to do a lot of auditioning to make it, and have to deal with some really sleazy people along the way to success.

dwbat: Look at the number of actors who have become politicians: Ronald Reagan, George Murphy. And politicians who have become actors: Fred Thompson, he of the reverse mortgage commercials. Best, Don Bauder

Thompson was on "Law & Order" for years, and in many movies.

dwbat: That's my understanding, but I didn't see any of those. I have seen the commercials. Best, Don Bauder

response to donbauder, Fred Thompson was a well known actor before he was ever elected to the Senate.

danfogel: If so, maybe he should have been listed with Reagan and Murphy. However, I was not trying to make the list all-inclusive. I have a bunch of other things on my plate right now. Best, Don Bauder

Thanks for all your columns. The U-T continues it's slide down to becoming the worst paper in the country. Last summer two deplorable articles, not worthy of a high school newspaper, were published. The worst U.S. Presidents (including the sitting president) and following that, what their new Mt. Rushmore would look like. As a registered Independent (since 1966) and moderate voter and avid reader of newspapers, it is painful to read this paper. Did "Papa Doug" send a memo to all the columnists to include a mention of Filner at least two + times? His signature is present in all sections. ( I believe the Mayor should resign, but the U-T coverage is awful). I can only hope the LA Times is not purchased by the Tea Party. At this point I would rather pay for the Reader than the San Diego Union-Tribune. Keep up the good work, many of us appreciate it.

augle08: I appreciate the kind words. I agree that the two articles you allude to were just plain garbage -- anti-intellectual in the extreme. The paper is more of a propaganda organ than it has ever been. Suggest you read Liz Swain's report on John Lynch's speech at Allied Gardens. Her report is online in the Reader right now. Best, Don Bauder

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