Chattanoogans featured in film, TV shows

Chattanoogans featured in film, TV shows

Several Chattanoogans find famein films, on popular TV shows

June 3rd, 2016 by Susan Pierce in FYI - 2015

Lauren Alaina performs on the Coca Cola stage during the final night of Riverbend.

Photo by Jake Daniels /Times Free Press.

Staff photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press - Damon Gillespie, a 16-year-old sophomore at the Center for Creative Arts, is a tap dancer who started three years ago and currently a rising star.

Staff photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press...

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.


Television's top two reality TV talent shows featured singers from Cleveland, Tenn., in their championship rounds last year. Even more notable, both singers were alumni of Lee University, making Lee the first college in the nation to have singers reach the championships of both shows, much less in the same year.

Lee student Jordan Smith won Season 9 of "The Voice" and alumnus Clark Beckham was runner-up on Season 14 of "American Idol." Both were considered front-runners throughout their seasons, with Smith's breakout performance of "Somebody to Love" pushing him over the top to the "Voice" title.

Smith made "Voice" history by landing eight songs in the iTunes singles Top 10, becoming the first artist from any "Voice" season to have a song crack the Top 10 singles chart every week of the live rounds, and he was one of just two "Voice" artists to notch three No. 1 singles on iTunes during a show season.

Smith's new album, "Something Beautiful," was released March 18 on the Republic Records label. It is a compilation of original songs and covers produced by music legends David Foster (Celine Dion, Michael Buble) and Stephan Moccio (The Weeknd, Miley Cyrus).

Here's a roundup of other local talent in front of and behind TV cameras during 2015.

' Lauren Alaina: The Rossville singer who was runner-up to Scotty McCreery in Season 10 of "American Idol" was invited back by "Idol" producers to help launch the final season of Fox Network's juggernaut series. Having recovered from vocal surgery, she released a self-titled EP last September as a tease for a full album set to release this year. She also starred in a 10-week series of webcasts for "My Country Nation," writing her own humorous takes on issues faced by twentysomethings.

The singer started 2016 with performances at the C2C country music festival in Europe, then came home to join superstar Alan Jackson's "Keepin' It Country" tour. In July, Alaina will join her own "American Idol," Carrie Underwood, for a performance in Iowa.

' Rachel Boston: The Girls Preparatory School alumna began and ended 2015 starring in Hallmark movies. "A Gift of Miracles" premiered Feb. 15, and she starred in "Ice Sculpture Christmas" opposite David Alpay in December.

' Damon Gillespie: The Center for Creative Arts graduate was featured in Amy Schumer's viral video, "Girl, You Don't Need Makeup," playing one of the four boy-band members singing to the Comedy Central star. The video won Kyle Dunnigan an Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics.

' Rebecca Gunn: The Dalton, Ga., native and GPS alumna married Cory Allan in the season finale of "Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta." The bridegroom is the son of Lori Burns Allen, owner of Bridals by Lori in Atlanta and star of the TLC Channel's reality show. The TLC crew followed Gunn through her selection of three dresses, planning the wedding ceremony and reception.

' Dennis Haskins: Jimmy Fallon threw one of television's biggest surprises when he reunited the cast of "Saved by the Bell" for a "Tonight Show" sketch on Feb. 4. The subsequent YouTube video garnered more than 31 million viewings.

Fallon played himself in a Bayside High School scene with Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zack), Tiffani Thiessen (Kelly), Mario Lopez (Slater), Elizabeth Berkley (Jessie) and, of course, Chattanooga's own Dennis Haskins (Principal Belding). The sketch was featured in Fallon's February Valentine's Day special.

' Nina Jones: The Brainerd High School graduate was cast in "South of Hell" for the We Channel last fall, written by the same team that created "Dexter." She also had a role in "The Detour," shot in Atlanta for TBS.

' Canedy Knowles: The former Chattanoogan landed a recurring role on Bravo's "Odd Mom Out," playing one of the women in star Jill Kargman's comedy about a wealthy Manhattan mommy clique. Knowles was also featured in the May season finale of "Blue Bloods," playing the trauma nurse who wrestled Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg) out of the ER as his wife was being taken to surgery.

The actress and her preschool daughter, Davis, are working in an independent film called "Mommy Heist," about three moms who hold up a jewelry store. The mother-daughter team is also filming a "mommy travel show" with another company that Knowles says she hopes will end up on television.

' Terrell Owens: The former UTC Mocs football player lasted 15 seasons in the NFL, but only five episodes working for Donald Trump, real estate entrepreneur and now presidential candidate. Although Trump had high praise for T.O., the receiver got sacked on "Celebrity Apprentice" because he didn't have a reserve of big-dollar donors to call upon like his competitors.

' Malachi Nimmons: This Chattanooga State grad started out in an improv troupe after moving to New York City in 2012, but TV viewers were more likely to catch him on dramas last year. He played a friend of a murder victim on Debra Messing's "Mysteries of Laura" and was an extra on "Blue Bloods."

' Lisa Robertson: The former Miss Tennessee retired from QVC, where she had been one of its top hosts since 1995.

' John Zachary: Another Brainerd High alum, Zachary was production designer for "Salem," the first original-scripted series for WGN, which shot in April 2015. He was also production designer for four seasons of "Raising Hope," Season 2 of "Sleepy Hollow" and art director for four seasons of "My Name Is Earl."