Produced by Jeff Keene - email
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - They are back from war and often flush with cash.
Combat bonuses can leave our veterans with thousands of dollars sitting in their savings accounts.
Jonathan Dean of Indian Trail, who recently left the Marine Corps after two-tour tours in Iraq, fears he may have lost $8,000 of his combat pay.
"Four of us were in the military, just returned from Iraq." says Dean. "I don't know if he knew it was combat pay, but he knew we had money saved up."
Dean is talking about is Timothy Woodward, Jr, an actor who lives in Wilmington, NC. He has been in a number of unsuccessful locally produced tv shows and movies
Woodward was about to make a new movie called "Redefining Love." Woodward would not only star in it, but produce it.
"It sounded pretty sound," said Dean. "It sounded like it was really going to work out well."
Dean signed a contract with Woodward. He would get 3% of whatever the movie makes.
"Redefining Love" premiered last Valentine's Day. Dean was there for the Wilmington premiere.
"A really horrible movie," said Dean.
Carmike Cinemas played the film in seven of its theaters for just seven days. It wasn't going to make any money from the box office, but for Dean it didn't matter. The contract he signed came with a guarantee. He would get his $8,000, plus 20%.
It was to be paid back by December 1st, if not by limited liability corporation set up for the movie, then by the production company.
Dean has yet to see any of the money.
It turns out the Marines aren't the only ones looking for money.
Several actors and crew members tell WBTV they are owed paychecks from past and current Woodward projects.
A Raleigh businessman says he borrowed Woodward $149,000 and has gone unpaid. He asked not to be named, but provided WBTV with a copy of the loan agreement.
Questions about finances date back to 2005. Woodward stared, produced and found the deep pockets needed to make a TV show called "Palmetto Pointe."
"He was a very good salesman," says Tim Casey.
Casey was a Charleston, SC real estate developer. He says he spent between $2.5 and $3 million dollars on the show.
A big chunk of the cash was used to buy airtime on a fledgling cable network, similar to buying time for an infomercial.
Dismal ratings and dwindling cash led to show's implosion just a few episodes into production.
"It was a very expensive education," says Casey.
Jonathan Dean wants to avoid the same experience. He is going to be married soon and is just starting college.
"I didn't have any money to help out with bills, or anything like that," said Dean. "This whole responsibility has been placed on my fiance and that's a horrible feeling."
Woodward still lives in Wilmington in a nearly million dollar home in a gated near-ocean community. He's also working on a new tv show called "Hollywood East."
"I'm a dreamer," said Woodward speaking of his acting ambitions. "I just went for it man."
He says finding financing for projects is always a struggle.
"Yeah, I mean you talk to people, you put it out, give them an option," said Woodward.
He says several Marines signed up to be a part of "Redefining Love." They were brought to him by another Marine and business partner Paul Voelker. Woodward says there are normally no guarantees, but did admit the contract he signed with Dean did promise the 20% return on investment.
"I've already accepted responsibility and I've tried to sit down and talk to him about it," said Woodward.
Woodward says he's closing in on an international deal for the movie. He says Dean will be paid back soon.
"Yeah, it will be probably by the middle of February, but absolutely 100%," says Woodward. "I can't help it if a film doesn't sell on time."
Dean says then Woodward shouldn't have put it in writing.