Locals look good in ‘Bad Senator’

Home » Arts & Entertainment
Posted November 22, 2023 | By Lisa McGinnes

More than 400 residents of Del Webb Spruce Creek recently got the chance to see themselves and their friends and neighbors on the silver screen. On Nov. 17, they packed the Summerfield retirement community’s Horizon Center for the first screening of “Bad Senator,” a new independent movie filmed at Spruce Creek in fall 2022.

The comedy about Richard, a narcissistic retired senator, is the passion project of Chad Richardson, whose parents moved to Spruce Creek more than 20 years ago. From its opening shot of the circular fountain at the community’s entrance, the movie features scenes filmed throughout the neighborhood, its country club and community center. Most of the extras are Spruce Creek residents.

“This community means a tremendous amount to us,” said Richardson, the film’s writer and director. “I just love the tightness of the community. It’s like everybody comes together and supports each other. It’s all from love; it’s all friendship and family.”

Richardson, 57, lives in the Atlanta area and was a law enforcement officer in Detroit for 25 years before starting to write “Bad Senator” in 2014. After his father, William, passed away following a brief bout with cancer in 2019, Richardson was motivated to finish the screenplay and make the film.

“The inspiration came from these amazing people in this community,” he said. His mother, Carolyn, is featured in the film with her real-life widow’s group, and in one scene they toast her late husband. Five of Richardson’s children also appear on screen.

Actors Bob Gallagher, who stars as Richard, and Vanessa Neff, who plays his quirky new neighbor, Iris, said they enjoyed the chance to return to Marion County for the premiere.

“When I came back last night after a year, (after) spending five weeks a year ago here, I felt like I was at my second home,” said Gallagher, who is based in Boston. “That’s how welcoming the community was. They were so accommodating, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.”

Neff also called the Spruce Creek residents “welcoming.”

“I really hadn’t spent any time in Florida before,” said Neff, who lives in North Carolina. “It was just such a great experience. The people that live here were so welcoming and so lovely about having us as guests in their community.”

Guitarist Bobby Randall, most famous as a member of the band Sawyer Brown and now the music director for the Orange Blossom Opry, plays himself in the film. The Weirsdale music venue is featured prominently in “Bad Senator” and will host a screening on Nov. 26, with a preshow performance by
the Orange Blossom Opry Band
and a post-show Q&A with Richardson and Gallagher. For tickets, visit obopry.com.

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