Michael Zimmer & Nick Holle - "The Entertainers" | Wisconsin Public Television

Michael Zimmer & Nick Holle - "The Entertainers"

Michael Zimmer & Nick Holle - "The Entertainers"

Premiere date: May 02, 2014

For thirty-five years, piano players from across the world have strapped on their bow ties, arm garters, and straw boater hats and descended on Peoria, Illinois to battle for the title of World's Greatest Old-Time Piano Player. These players compete to claim glory and to remind the world that ragtime, the first truly American popular music, should not be forgotten just yet.  Co-Directors/Producers Michael Zimmer and Nick Holle discuss their film and 5 time Old-Time Piano Player finalist Faye Ballard delights with her amazing talent.


Nick Holle | Co-Director/Co-Producer

Nick Holle has produced two feature films. The Entertainers is his first documentary. He also wrote, produced, edited, and starred in the feature comedy Illegal Use of Joe Zopp. The film appeared in several festivals and was featured on Director's Cut. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin and the University of Southern California's Master's in writing program, he is the creator of dozens of comedy shorts, the co-author of the book FLYMF's Greatest Hits, and founding member of the production company Wut Wut Alma Moving Pictures. 

Michael Zimmer | Co-Director/Co-Producer

Michael Zimmer is a writer and filmmaker in Los Angeles. A graduate of Yale and the University of Southern California, he has developed feature screenplay and television projects with major Hollywood production companies. The Entertainers is his first produced film. 

Faye Ballard | Old-Time Piano Player Finalist

Faye Ballard first became interested in ragtime music when she heard Les Cripe (piano player for the Harry James band) play at a Shakey's Pizza Parlor in Decatur, Illinois. Les was kind enough to take her under his wing and taught her how to play "Maple Leaf Rag" and showed her a few of his other numerous piano tricks.

Faye first competed in the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest, at age 12, in their very second contest in 1976, where she had the honor to compete against the contest's first champion, Joybelle Squibb. While Faye came in second to Joybelle, she loved the contest and competition and kept coming back. 

Faye has been a five-time finalist in the competition and finished as high as 2nd place in 2007. Faye elected to retire from the competition part of the contest after the 2010 contest in order to take over as the contest coordinator starting in 2011.

When not playing her piano, Faye enjoys her full-time job as an Office Support Specialist for the University of Illinois College of Nursing and spending time with her cat, Cora. She also enjoys performing at festivals, such as the Scott Joplin Festival in Sedalia, Missouri and doing performances at various functions at the University of Illinois and for Champaign, Illinois's Mayor, Jerry Schweigheart.

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