Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
For more than 30 years, John Kiesewetter has been the source for information about all things in local media — comings and goings, local people appearing on the big or small screen, special programs, and much more. Contact John at

Gabriel Basso To Star As 'J.D.' In 'Hillbilly Elegy' Movie

Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Gabriel Basso

Actor Gabriel Basso (The Whole Truth) will star in Hillbilly Elegy as "J.D. Wade," the fictionalized name for J.D. Vance, who wrote the book of the same title about growing up in Middletown, Deadline reports.

Hillbilly Elegy "is a potential star making role for the young actor," Deadline says.

Credit Paul Drinkwater / Courtesy NBC
Courtesy NBC
Glenn Close will play the family matriarch in "Hillbilly Elegy."

Basso, 24, will join Academy Award winners Glenn Close and Amy Adams in the film to be directed by Ron Howard for his Imagine Entertainment company.

The St. Louis native has appeared in The Whole Truth with Keanu Reeves and Renee Zellweger, Ithaca with Meg Ryan and Sam Shepard, and director J.J. Abrams' Super 8.

From 2010-2013, he played Laura Linney's son on Showtime's The Big C. His TV credits include Perception, The Middle and iCarly.

Netflix describes the film this way: "Based on the bestselling memoir by J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy is a modern exploration of the American Dream and three generations of an Appalachian family as told by its youngest member, a Yale Law student forced to return to his hometown.

Credit Courtesy Triple Moon Coffee Co.
Ron Howard at Middletown's Triple Moon Coffee Co. on March 25 with employees Dianah and Cortney.

As I reported last week, seven-time Oscar nominee Close will portray "Mamaw," the "resilient and whip-smart matriarch of a southern Ohio family." Adams, a six-time Oscar nominee, will play Bev, the author's addiction-riddled mother.

Imagine acquired the rights to Vance's book in 2017. Netflix is paying $45 million to finance the film, Variety says.

Howard, an Oscar winner for A Beautiful Mind, in March made his second visit in six months to the Triple Moon Coffee Company in downtown Middletown.

The Triple Moon posted a 90-second video April 11 on its Facebook page asking Howard to film Hillbilly Elegy in Middletown.The coffee shop asked people to share it with the hashtag #MakeitinMiddletownRon.

Vance, a 2003 Middletown High School graduate, published the best-seller in 2016 about growing up poor among working-class "hillbillies" in the Southwestern Ohio steel town. After high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Marines and served in Iraq. Vance returned to Ohio and studied political science and philosophy at Ohio State University, and later earned his law degree from Yale in 2003.

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.