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Family Matters: Other Desert Cities

It is the morning of Christmas Eve 2004 in the Palm Springs desert and the Wyeth family is together for the first time in many years. Brooke Wyeth (Diane Slamp) is a mostly successful freelance author of popular magazine articles with one long-ago published novel on her resume. Her latest effort to write something of lasting significance started as a fictional account of her family but eventually morphed into a memoir. She is apprehensive because she is bringing, from her home on the East Coast, an advanced copy of the new book. There are sure to be consequences for telling the truth about her parents.

Her father, Lyman Wyeth (Michael Wren), retired to the desert after a long run as America’s most handsome, and politically conservative, movie star. His quiet and tactful demeanor won him an ambassadorship during the Reagan administration. In the sixties his wife, Polly Wyeth (Johanna Spencer), wrote a very popular series of light-hearted comedies with her sister, Silda Grauman (Michaela Lonning). The fees collected for script writing did not amount to very much and now liberal Silda must live with and be dependent on her sister. Because Brooke did not adopt the political views of her parents, Polly is concerned that disclosures in Brooke’s work will end the Wyeth’s comfortable position among their friends at the Country Club; specifically, details about a radical leftist attack in which, Henry, the Wyeth’s eldest son was complicit and resulted in his death.

Trip Wyeth (Ryan McWayne), Brooke’s younger brother, frequently finds himself as the family peace maker but today he does not go easy on his sister. Is she taking unfair advantage of a personal family tragedy to advance her career? Or is she seeking sympathy for the pain, either real or imagined, that Polly inflicted on her? The Wyeths are actually a loving family but sometimes it’s just