Danny Glover of Lethal Weapon and Angels in the Outfield fame is the keynote speaker for UNC's 29th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration, UNC officials announced today.
Glover's speech highlights the weeklong event, which runs from Jan. 17 to Jan. 22. The talk is free and open to the public and is set for 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21 at Memorial Hall. You will need a ticket, however. Students with UNC IDs get the first crack at them beginning Jan. 12. Everyone else can get two tickets starting Jan. 14 at the Memorial Hall box office.
Glover will address how King inspired him to use his celebrity platform fight for causes like health care and education.
More information on the speech and the entire slate of events can be found here.
Just an hour ago, Bruce and Mary Jo Stone, the owners of the Varsity Theater on Franklin Street, released a written statement confirming the closing of the theater. Although the document doesn't specify the effective date, presumably the theater will close after tonight's final showings of The Hangover and The Brothers Bloom.
In the statement, signed by Bruce Stone, several factors are cited. First,
[T]he numbers currently don't support the continuation of both theaters [the Varsity and the Chelsea, also owned by the Stones] as viable enterprises. The Varsity especially has been struggling for over two years, with no prospect of an upturn any time soon. Although the film exhibition business is a highly variable, feast or famine sort of business, the assumption has always been the feasts and famines eventually even one another out. However, there has been much more famine in recent years, with the summers being especially difficult.
The statement goes on to discuss changes in the business model that make it hard for specialty theaters to survive against multiplexes. Citing a May article in Variety , Stone writes,
[Specialty distributors] still in business prefer to withhold their prestige product until the fall winter awards season. When an indy film suddenly gains traction and becomes successful with a wider audience (or "crosses over"), the distributors quickly book these films into multiplexes everywhere, thereby undercutting the business being done at the specialty theaters.
[caption id="attachment_4387" align="aligncenter" width="461" caption="UNC-Chapel Hill freshman Walker Percy, later the author of "The Moviegoer" and many other books, extends his leg while waiting in line for a movie at the Varsity Theatre, then known as the Carolina Theatre, on Franklin Street, circa 1933-34. Photo courtesy of North Carolina Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill"] [/caption]
The Varsity Theater, which has been in operation under different names on Chapel Hill's Franklin Street for more than 80 years, will go dark this Friday.
Owner Bruce Stone wouldn't directly confirm the theater's closing, but when asked if the fact that the Indy had not been provided with movie listings for the Varsity meant there would be no movies there, he replied, "That would be a correct inference."
Stone said he would make a formal announcement about the Varsity's operations on Thursday or Friday. Stone's other theater, the Chelsea, which is located in the Timberlyne shopping center, will remain open.
The Varsity's closing has been long-rumored, and earlier this month I wrote a story about the financial realities of the business of running a specialty movie house.
For the record, the Varsity is currently showing The Brothers Bloom and The Hangover. The final screening for the former film is 9:20 p.m., while the final screening for the latter is 9:30.
Main Street, the movie, may be shooting on your street soon.
We've got the story over on Artery, our seasonal arts blog—which will be cranking up in earnest for Full Frame.
Theatre in the Park announced today that Justin Long, an actor seen in such titles as He's Just Not That Into You, Galaxy Quest, Live Free or Die Hard and the Peyton Reed-directed The Break-Up, will play her BF from the Montague side of the tracks in the Theatre's May production of Romeo and Juliet.
The production will run for five performances from May 15-17, at the TIP space in Pullen Park. Tickets are on sale for $50.
Wood, whose star will continue to rise when her next film, Woody Allen's Whatever Works, opens the Tribeca Film Festival in April, is a Raleigh native and daughter of Ira David Wood III, artistic director of TIP. She received universal raves for her role in Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler, and she's also reputed to be playing Mary Jane in a Broadway adaptation of Spider-Man, which will be directed by Julie Taymor, who brought The Lion King to the stage and also directed Wood in Across the Universe. Music will be by Bono and The Edge.
In this TV Guide red carpet interview on Oscar Night, Wood discusses the Spidey project and also gives a shout-out to the folks back home at Theatre in the Park.
If there was any doubt about the depth and breadth of the economic crisis in general and the daily newspaper crisis in particular, this afternoon's announcement from the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival abolishes it.
The New York Times, which has provided sponsorship support for the 12-year-old festival since 2001, has withdrawn its commitment, the festival announced today, less than three weeks away from the start of this year's event, which is scheduled for April 2-5 in Durham.
The Times was one of two "presenting sponsors" for the festival. Duke University is the other. The threshold for being a presenting sponsor is $100,000, says Peg Palmer, the festival's executive director, in a phone interview earlier this evening.
"We're disappointed. We've had a good long relationship with the Times," Palmer says. "All the newspapers are reassessing [their priorities]. They're slashing budgets and revisiting priorities. We're one of the many that fell by the wayside."
There was more evidence this week that a film production is indeed getting underway in Durham. Auditions for Main Street were held all week at Durham Convention Center. Two actors confirmed independently that they'd read for parts this week, and that the production is scheduled to begin in April.
The casting agency is Telsey and Company, described by one of our confidants as a
very reputable casting agency out of NYC. They cast lots of Broadway shows and big movies like Sex and the City, Rachel Getting Married, and Milk. I saw them a few times while I was living in NYC [ ... ] They sent one of their casting associates down here to do the initial auditions this week, a really good reader and very nice. She videotapes into a computer, which then gets streamed to NYC. Very similar to what the Fincannons do in Wilmington, and something I'm seeing more and more.
This correspondent also described a diverse casting call, suggesting that this movie's Durham may be less white than it was in 1988 when Bull Durham was released.
I was up against Asians, African-Americans, all types and ages, etc., so the field is pretty wide open. Very typical videotaped in-and-out audition, from which they'll narrow the field to meet with the director at callbacks. Pretty standard fare.
Both of our correspondents report that the advertised stars are Colin Firth, Ellen Burstyn and Patricia Clarkson (that's an aggregate of six Oscar nominations and one win).
However, one of them cautioned about the casting, "you might want to say 'rumored' or something like that since I'm not sure how much of the info on the leads, etc. is true and how much is out there to raise money."
As it happens, this film project appears on none of these actors' imdb.com pages. The imdb.com entry for the film itself is minimal, listing only the screenwriter, director and production company. (It seems the film's title has been shortened from Main Street USA.) The script is by two-time Oscar winner Horton Foote (Tender Mercies, To Kill a Mockingbird). John Doyle, best known as a stage director, is set to direct. The production company is Reliant Pictures, which was set up two years ago by Thom Mount, Durham native and producer of Bull Durham.
The most informative item on the film's imdb.com entry is the following plot summary, which provides a protagonist's name and otherwise confirms what has been reported about the film's content in the Independent and elsewhere.
From the once thriving tobacco warehouses, to the current run-down and closed shops of Five Points, a diverse group of residents and their respective life changes when outsider Gus Leroy brings something new and potentially dangerous into their quiet town.
Our other correspondent also described an ordinary audition, and passed along some official production information, which reads in part:
MAIN STREET, a feature film starring Ellen Burstyn, Patricia Clarkson and Colin Firth, is a movie that will be filming in Durham, NC this Spring. Our casting office will be in Durham, NC the week of Feb 23-Feb 27. A large portion of the cast will be LOCAL HIRES.
Evan Rachel Wood stopped being a full-time Raleigh resident years ago, but her family remains central to the city's theater scene: Her father, Ira David Wood III, is longtime artistic director of Theatre in the Park, and recently finished a run in the title role of Shakespeare's Macbeth. Evan's brother Ira David Wood IV was also in that production.
Now she'll be reunited with her family in a production of Romeo and Juliet, the theater announced on its Web site. The show is advertised as a fundraiser, and is tentatively set to run in mid-May. Ira David Wood IV—who has acted in at least three movies with his sister (including Across the Universe and Pretty Persuasion)—will direct.
Auditions to fill out the production are scheduled for Feb. 24-25. The role of Romeo is not yet cast, but the announcement obliquely hints at a further casting coup: The role is "possibly open for a strong leading man."
Wood can currently be seen in Darren Aronofsky's sensational film The Wrestler, in which she gives an excoriating performance as the embittered, estranged daughter of Mickey Rourke's title character. The movie received two Oscar nominations, for the work of Wood's co-stars Rourke and Marisa Tomei.
We called Theatre in the Park to confirm details. Erin West, office manager, said that the part of Romeo is open. We asked her about an audition announcement that briefly appeared last week on Craigslist that suggested Jamie Bell as a possibility for the part, but West said "Jamie Bell is no longer a possibility" for the role. West also said the Craigslist posting was not made by the "staff of Theatre in the Park."
The details of the run, and ticket information, will likely be available next week, West said. She said it would probably be a one-weekend run in the 219-seat theater.
The text of the Web site announcement follows.
Indy freelancer Marc Maximov spent the last two weeks of January where he always does: at Park City, Utah, volunteering with the Sundance Film Festival and taking in films. Lots of films.
Every year, he sends an e-mail to his friends with the skinny on the films--especially the documentaries, which he finds to be the festival's most consistently rewarding offerings. With any luck, Triangle residents will have the opportunity to see some of them at Durham’s Full Frame documentary fest in April.
Marc's note follows:
The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival announced today that Steve James, director of one of the most successful documentaries ever, the 1994 epic Hoop Dreams, will curate a sports-themed program at this year's festival, which runs April 2-5.
James' sidebar will be called This Sporting Life, and will not be limited to documentaries. Instead, the series "will include some of the lesser-seen dramatic films that take place in the world of sports. Selections will include those that specifically anticipated the emergence of the sports genre in documentary filmmaking, which continues to be honest, vibrant, and original."
Any suggestions for Mr. James? We've got a couple: The Harder They Fall, a boxing muckraker with Humphrey Bogart, Rod Steiger and real-life boxers Max Baer and Jersey Joe Walcott; and The History of Soccer: The Beautiful Game, the 11-hour, Terence Stamp-narrated British television documentary from 2001.
Leave your suggestions here or at Triangle Offense, our sports blog.
Full Frame also announced a special memorial program in honor of St. Clair Bourne, a documentary filmmaker and friend of the festival who died in December 2007. Complete release after the jump.