Friday, August 31, 2007

'The Mist' trailer is online! (Hold me.)

"The Mist" trailer is ready and it rocks!

Here's a direct link.

It's on Yahoo's movie homepage for the next two days.

The horror flick appears totally old-school. Small town. Fear of the unknown. Desperate moral conflicts between faith and fact. Fear and fanaticism. Probably science and the supernatural. More about interpersonal conflict than special effects.

Chatter about "The end of days," "Time to take sides," "The saved and the damned," "We are being punished," "If something happens, cut and run," and "It was them that brought down the final wrath upon us!" And bugs and tentacles.

What do you think?

Release date: Nov. 21.

PHOTO CREDIT: Director and screenwriter Frank Darabont on the mist-shrouded set of Dimension Films' "The Mist." Photo by Ralph Nelson, The Weinstein Company.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Arraignment set for former state film recruiter

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Former state film industry recruiter Mark Smith is scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 7.

Federal prosecutors have charged Smith with bribery and conspiracy in what they say was a scheme to inflate budgets for movies shot in Louisiana so that producers could reap more lucrative tax credits.

The court refers to the Sept. 7 re-arraignment as a "change of plea hearing," a typical step in a legal process when a defendant is cooperating with law enforcement officials and intends to plead guilty. Smith would not comment.

U.S. Attorney Jim Letten has said he expects more charges to result from the investigation, a joint effort by federal prosecutors, the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service.

Smith traveled widely to rally support for the state's motion picture development effort while he served in the Department of Economic Development under Governors Mike Foster and Kathleen Blanco from 2002 to 2006.

The state offers tax credits, which can be converted into cash, to movie investors and producers in a program that has made Louisiana one of the nation's top film destinations.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Keep an eye on 'Dallas'

Chatter is surfacing again about a movie version of "Dallas." John Travolta remains attached to play J.R., but the tone has changed from drama to spoof comedy. Betty Thomas, who made "The Brady Bunch" movies, is in discussions, reports Variety.

Regency and 20th Century Fox are the studios. If you remember correctly, we previously reported that "Dallas" was looking to split time between the real Dallas and Shreveport. The project fell apart, though.

It will be interesting to see if the project resurfaces. Variety says it is aiming for a January start. Will it come to Shreveport? Don't know yet.

Do you want to see a spoof on Dallas?

And is J.T. perfect for J.R. or what?

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Shreve makes The Post

Yolanda Young wrote a piece about the rise of Shreveport for The Washington Post. She offers some great analysis on how the city's movie fortune came by way of the Big Easy's tragedy. She wrote:

"Shreveport's history is likely to mirror that of Oakland, Calif. Before the great earthquake of 1906, Oakland was anonymous, but it doubled in size and gained a national profile when residents of San Francisco fled there after their city was devastated. San Francisco quickly regained its stature, but it gave Oakland a chance to grow."

Click here
to read the whole story.

Friday, August 24, 2007

What’s the best single-screen movie palace?

Chris Jay (Robinson Film Center) and I recently trekked to Springhill to watch "The Bourne Ultimatum" at the Spring Theatre (top). It's a single-screen theater with great sound and projection. It seats 415 and shows one movie daily except on Sunday, when there's an additional matinee. This theater and the local bowling alley are two of the town's only options for nightly entertainment.

According an MPAA study from 2006, there are 1,742 single screens in the U.S. I'm working to find out how many drive-ins are included in this figure (or not).

We've written a story about it, which will be published soon.


Exploring old single-screen theaters is a passion of mine. I'm not against multiplexes, but I don't particularly enjoy the generic, loud and perfected experiences they provide.

I've logged all of my favorite movie-going memories at single-screen theaters that offer beat-up prints, suspect sound, sticky floors and squeaky seats. I like to feel my movies.

You could do that at the Morris Theatre in Morris, Minn. (bottom).

If you know me, you've heard this story before.

As I recall, I was a freshman at the University of Minnesota Morris. Despite it being winter (or, at the very least, snowing and cold as all Fargo), the Morris Theatre was undergoing a bit of remodeling.

It had a huge auditorium with a closed balcony (on most nights). If you went to the lobby to score popcorn for your date, it was best to send out a search party to spot her on the trip back down the aisle. You wouldn't have been surprised to have been sucked into a black hole en route.

Playing late one night was "Alive" (1993), the drama about the Uruguayan rugby team. Their plane crashed in the Andes Mountains, and they had to resort to cannibalism to survive. (You remember Ethan Hawke's better days, don't you? Yummy.)

The theater owner must have had a wonderful sense of humor and a perverse taste for immersing moviegoers in a movie world.

The exit doors at the screen's edges were no longer there. In their place were clear plastic tarps, waving furiously in an angry wind. The furnace wasn't really working. My hands were cold. I wore a stocking cap.

Along with a handful of patrons, I watched scenes of human desperation get bleaker and bleaker as my breath turned frosty and snow blew in from the dark alley. It was as if the auditorium was the fuselage and the movie theater had crashed onto the snowy prairies of western Minnesota.

Smell-O-Vision be damned. Moviegoing doesn't get better than that.

What's your favorite single-screen theater? Please share a favorite memory.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Harold and Kumar 2 Teaser Trailer

"This time they're running from the joint." I'm embarrassingly excited.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Should I wear what Jessica Simpson's wearing?

Marketers are working to make us look like Jessica Simpson. (Have they seen my mug shot?)

Locally, Simpson wraps production on "Major Movie Star" Thursday.

Here's a snippet from a press release I received today: "Delivery Agent, Inc. the leader in shopping-enabled programming for television shows, motion pictures, sports and publishing, and JT Entertainment announced today an exclusive partnership that connects Jessica Simpson fans with more than 500 products from her life in the spotlight through a Simpson-branded e-commerce destination at ( available directly at ( Fans will be able to emulate Simpson, one of this decade’s most sought after style icons, by purchasing products from all aspects of her celebrity lifestyle, including apparel, accessories and her upcoming fragrance line."

Simpson isn't the only one being positioned as a product delivery device. If you watched Desperate Housewives last night, you can drive Gabrielle's Maserati. You can wear boots inspired by the Pussycat Dolls. You can hide from the cameras at your high school reunion by wearing Victoria Beckham's sunglasses.

I'm not shocked about how overtly commercial the celebrity image has become. Fashion magazines have been reporting on what celebrities have been wearing for years, and national TV morning shows love to feature stylists showing us how to dress like the "it girl" du jour.

What's odd to me, in this instance, is publicizing Simpson's strategy to enter into an "exclusive partnership" with Seen On. It plainly suggests that whenever she's appearing in front of a camera, she's selling something.

I know this type of brand marketing is far from controversial or new, but I'd like to hear what you think.

Are you comfortable or uncomfortable with this exclusive partnership?

Should fashion trends be determined by contracts or public opinion?

Does this change the way you see candid celebrity photographs?

Have you ever bought something because it was seen on a celebrity?

Photo: Jessica Simpson poses backstage at MTV's Times Square Studios, Oct. 4, 2006, in New York. (AP Photo/Paul Hawthorne)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Former Louisiana film commissioner charged with bribery

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The former director of the Louisiana Film Commission has been charged with taking $65,000 to approve valuable tax credits based on inflated budgets for movies made in the state, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said Friday.

Mark S. Smith, 46, was charged in a bill of information with one count of conspiracy and one of bribery. The crimes are alleged to have taken place between 2003 and 2005.

Smith is no longer with state government and was not immediately available for comment. Letten said he will be arraigned soon but did not give a date. The name of the film company involved was not made public.

Friday’s announcement marked the latest in a string of corruption charges announced by the federal government. Earlier this week, a New Orleans City Council member resigned after pleading guilty to bribery in a long-running investigation of city government.

Charges against Smith are the first to arise from a probe of the film industry in Louisiana, where producers can get lucrative tax credits for productions in the state.

© 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

'Burn This' announces cast

Joining Emmy-winning actor Pruitt Taylor Vince on the stage for the LSUS production will be:

Megan Brown, a film actress who appeared in "Mr. Brooks." She moved here from Tampa and logged a degree at Columbia University in New York.

Ryan Williams, a local theater actor and director who has an impressive musical resume.

Gordon Christy, a local theater actor who played in two Shakespeare shows with Marjorie Lyons Playhouse last summer.

WHAT: Lanford Wilson's "Burn This," directed by Robert Alford.
WHEN: 8 p.m. Sept. 28-30 and Oct. 5-7.
COST: $15, in advance; $18. at the door, $10, students, staff and faculty; $8 each, groups of 5 or more; $10 for Senior citizens and military; $8 each, for groups of 5 or more.
RESERVATIONS: (318) 797-5375 or (318) 797-5283.

There's also an alternate cast featuring James Palmer, Chris Pierce, John F. Daniel and Christina Ramona Diaz.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Consider this as infrastructure grows

There are many studio projects in the works for Shreveport, which I reported about today.

Keep the following in mind as you ponder Shreveport's potential for growth.

* Yesterday the city council greenlit Millennium Films' studio project for Shreveport's Ledbetter Heights. (Click the graphic to enlarge.)

* The state is considered applications to precertify 28 infrastructure projects from around the state, valued at a total of $3.8 billion. Pre-certified projects would be able to take advantage of tax credits valued at 40 percent of the approved costs.

* So far in 2007, the state has hosted 48 film and TV projects worth $456 million. $337 million of that has been spent in state, according to Chris Stelly, film and TV director for Louisiana Economic Development.

* Northwest Louisiana accounts for 10 projects in 2007. At the very least, three more ("Pulse" sequels and "The Story of Bonnie and Clyde") are in the works. I expect to see more during the fall.

* Two lingering challenges should be considered. Locally, I still hear grumblings about an ongoing shortage of locally based crew members. Numbers aren't growing fast enough to keep up with demand. And producers still aren't pleased with the lack of a direct flight between Shreveport and Los Angeles.

* Other states have seriously increased their success in attracting the film industry. New Mexico, at present, seems to be Louisiana's main U.S. competitor in luring productions and studios away from Hollywood.

* And one telling comment from Emmy-winning actor Pruitt Taylor Vince reinforcements my gut feeling that the Louisianas and New Mexicos of the world can expect more growth if they keep pace in the tax incentive game. Vince and I were chatting about his experience in working on the TV series "Murder One" ten years ago. The 20-year Hollywood veteran was thrilled at the opportunity to work on a real studio lot for the first time in his career: "The 20th Century Fox lot, with the soundstages and riding golf carts … I never got to do that. Movies are all on location now."

Of course, he was exaggerating. But you get the point.

Graphic: David Wright/The Times.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Actors can join scene study group ...

Acting coach Theresa Bell is beginning a bi-monthly scene study group for local actors. She's from Dallas and appeared in "V.I. Warshawski," "Dutch" and "Night Court." (If you don't recognize those titles, I despise your youth.)

Click on her website to learn more.

The scene study group begins Aug. 26. You can't register for it, though, if you haven't taken her classes before.

Newbies would have to take the intro course on Aug. 25, though. (Confused yet?) If you go, let me know how it goes.

WHAT: introduction to acting classes with Theresa Bell.
WHEN: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Aug. 25.
WHERE: 714 Elvis Presley Ave., Shreveport.
COST: $75 (4 auditing slots available $25) .
TO REGISTER: contact Tara Duncil at OR (318) 573-0039.
RESTRICTIONS: 12 students ages 15 and older.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Will Homer land a movie on Bonnie and Clyde?

UPDATE 12:25 p.m.: "The Story of Bonnie and Clyde" is a $20 million independent film project. Director Tonya Holly said most of the production time will be split equally between Louisiana and Mississippi.

"I decided to call it 'The Story of Bonnie and Clyde' because you can be in the room and hear the event told in five different ways. I had to pick the version that I thought was closest to the truth," Holly said. She's confident she'll film in north Louisiana. "We’re looking very closely at Homer, Arcardia, Gibsland, Angola, and Haynesville."


No, it's not another Clint Eastwood flick with an orangatang. (You have no idea how much this disappoints me. I've never interviewed a primate.)

But yes, it is another feature about crime history's most famous partners and crime, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Apparently, Cypress Moon Productions is getting ready to shoot "The Story of Bonnie and Clyde" either this fall or in early 2007.

It may be shot in Homer or in surrounding cities. The project is spearheaded by Alabama-based Tonya S. Holly.

There will be a casting call Aug. 20 between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Homer City Hall (400 E. Main St.).

The production needs men and women, and specifically children ages 7 and up. Applicants should bring headshots, contact info, and a resume.

Cities in consideration for the project also include St. Francisville, Donaldsville, Sorrento, Arcadia and Gibsland.

It looks to be a small independent project, and I'll report more as details unfold.

AP Photo: Bonnie Parker holds a gun on her partner in crime, Clyde Barrow, as the two mug for the camera in this photo made aproximately one year before their deaths. On May 23, 1934, five lawmen laying in ambush ended the crime spree of the hapless pair, pumping 180 rounds into their stolen car and flailing bodies.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Pruitt's on the radio; 'Dragon slayer' on our front page

These will be the last time I toot my own horn (this week), I promise!

An audio version of my story on Pruitt Taylor Vince airs today at 4:44 p.m. on Red River Radio (89.9 FM in Shreveport). You can find a direct link to the audio story by clicking here.

It's always nice to get a chance to hear on actor in his own words, and Vince is a great interview.


Also, I'm having interesting exchanges today with Times executive editor Alan English (my boss). There has been some online chatter concerning photographer Jim Hudelson's front page photo of kids "surfin' a gator." Some think it's cruel. Some think it's wrong for The Times to have published it. Here's the photo:

Photo: Residents have their photo made with a 9-foot, 8-inch alligator that was killed after being caught Thursday afternoon in Flat River in Bossier City. Cade McClanahan is "surfing" on the gator. (Jim Hudelson/The Times)

On English's blog, you will find an opportunity to talk about it. He queries: "How is the kid on the gator different than your Uncle Hank holding a big mouth bass by the lip for the camera?"

Read more of his thoughts by clicking here. There you'll also find me talking about its connection to an age-old story: "The dead gator offered (the kids) a chance to play the brave dragon slayer, and what is more fundamental to our attitudes about the 'demons of nature' than that? That the kids celebrate the death, however inadvertently, is to be expected."

On The Times' photo blog, Jim wrote about the photo. Read more by clicking here. His photos, which can also be found in this online gallery, provide a glimpse of a spectators documenting their own "man v. beast" story.

The temptation to represent ourselves as conquering heroes, for whatever reason, is understandable to me.

I'd further suggest that these photographs are truthful (and not sensational) because they simply reflect a story that lives deep in many of us. Many have seen or read about Harry Potter fighting a dragon in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." Many are familiar with "The Hobbit" or medieval stories of dragon slayers. These photos, to my eyes, simply show this: Humans are fascinated by the domination of nature, like it or not.

What are your thoughts? Have I fallen off my broom?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Pruitt Taylor Vince knows when not to play crazy

Last week I interviewed TV and film actor Pruitt Taylor Vince about his career and newest venture: performing in "Burn This" at the forthcoming LSUS Black Box Theatre. Read the story by clicking here.

The university is creating the space specially for this show, which is pretty cool.

To the local theater community, "Burn This" represents a chance to share the stage with an Emmy winner. Pruitt won for "Murder One" in 1997 (outstanding guest actor in a drama series). I know I'm repeating myself, but this opportunity should not be overlooked.

Here's a snippet from the interview I couldn't work into the article. When Pruitt was getting ready to play Clifford Banks on "Murder One," he had a meeting with Steven Bochco to discuss the character. Banks is a vigilante who decides to execute criminals the justice system did not. Here's what Pruitt told Bochco:

"I have a big thing, an actor is supposed to play a role from that character’s point of view, not from your point (or) somebody else’s point of view. I think Clifford thinks he’s the last sane man in America. And I would like to play it that way, that he absolutely is convinced he is the last sane man in America. (Bochco) said go for it. I said ... OK? It was a dangerous choice. The crazy guy would have been more fun."

Auditions for "Burn This" continue today and Saturday.

WHEN: 6 p.m. today; and noon Saturday.
OPEN PARTS: The three available parts are Larry, an acerbic advertising executive; Burton, a wealthy screenwriter; and Anna, a shy choreographer. All characters are in their late 20s or mid to late 30s. Understudies are needed, too.
WHERE: LSUS Black Box Theatre, Bronson Hall 109.
INFO: (318) 797-5283.

Photo: Greg Pearson/The Times.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Centenary grad makes surfing ads

Alejandro Heiber, a Centenary grad and recent MFAer from USC Film School, made three commercials for 9fish, a surfboard company. Heiber partnered with friend Derek Boonstra.

The spots will air this weekend on FuelTV, but you can also catch them by clicking here.

They're effective takeoffs on the Dating Game. Bachelor no. 2, per usual, is a total hoser.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

'Pulse' sequels coming to Shreveport

“The feature films ‘Pulse 2’ and ‘Pulse 3’ are in pre-production in Shreveport and will shoot Sept. 4 through Oct. 26,” according to the movie hotline for the Louisiana Economic Development Department.

The first flick was about a college-aged computer hacker who tapped into a mysterious wireless signal and discovered a world of deadly ghosts.

(Does this explain the goblins in my laptop? I haven't gotten a reliable wireless signal since 2005.)

Fax résumés to (323) 653-0409. Reach the movie hotline at (225) 342-3456.

'The Mist' to be released Nov. 21

The Weinstein Co./Dimension Films will release "The Mist" Nov. 21. Based on a Stephen King short story, the horror flick was shot inside StageWorks of Louisiana.

And judging by Louisiana Movies' very unscientific poll, you really want to see it.

Here's the official synopsis from TWC's website: "Three-time Oscar®-nominee Frank Darabont ('The Green Mile,' 'The Shawshank Redemption') reunites with horror-master Stephen King to write and direct this chilling adaptation of the author’s original short story. Following a violent thunderstorm, artist David Drayton and a small town community come under vicious attack from creatures prowling in a thick and unnatural mist. Local rumors point to an experiment called the ‘The Arrowhead Project’ conducted at a nearby top-secret military base, but questions as to the origins of the deadly vapor are secondary to the group’s overall chances for survival. Retreating to a local supermarket, Drayton and the survivors must face-off against each other before taking a united stand against an enemy they cannot even see!"

Photo: Director and screenwriter Frank Darabont gets physical with actor Chris Owen ("Norm") to demonstrate how he wants a scene from Dimension Films' "The Mist" to look. Ralph Nelson.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Inspiration for 'A Bay Bay' behind bars

Remember the locally made video for Hurricane Chris's "A Bay Bay?" Looks like the song has a major PR problem. This story was filed earlier this evening on

Local DJ charged with rape
August 6, 2007

By Adam Kealoha Causey

A local DJ who has garnered national attention from his connection to a hit rap song is behind bars in connection with a rape investigation.

DJ Bay Bay, whose real name is Terrance Stewart, is charged with one count each of simple rape and intimidation of a witness, according to Shreveport police spokeswoman Kacee Hargrave.

Stewart was arrested this afternoon and booked into the Shreveport City Jail where his bond is set at $150,000, Hargrave said.

Investigators say an employee at Kokopelli’s found a woman lying drunk and unconscious about 4 a.m. Thursday on the downtown night club’s second floor. Police think she was raped late Wednesday or early Thursday.

“I’m not sure if the sexual assault happened after she was drunk or before she got drunk,” Hargrave said. “We are continuing our investigation, more arrests are possible.”

Rapper Hurricane Chris’ song “A Bay Bay” is a tribute of sorts to the K103 Tha Beat radio personality. It peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and is at No. 10 in the latest issue of the chart.

No, really. You can meet Dr. Evil's maker

Jim Hayes, the guy who designed Dr. Evil's chair, will be the featured speaker at this month's Louisiana Produces meeting.

John Grindley from the Robinson Film Center just wrote to say, "Louisiana Produces will hold its monthly meeting Tuesday, Aug. 7. It will be same time, same place -- 7 p.m., Bossier Parish Community College,Building D."

To read more about Hayes, visit the Louisiana Hot Props website.

Audition already!

Auditions will be held a second time for LSUS’s upcoming production of “Burn This.” Starring will be Emmy-winning actor Pruitt Taylor Vince (“Murder One,” “Heavy,” “Deadwood”), who is a native of Baton Rouge.

The two available parts are Larry, an acerbic advertising executive, and Burton, a wealthy screenwriter. The production also needs an understudy for the part of Anna, a shy choreographer. All characters are in their late 20s or mid to late 30s.

Auditions are 6 p.m. Wednesday (Aug. 8); 6 p.m. Thursday (Aug. 9); and noon Saturday (Aug. 11). They will be held at Bronson Hall’s room 111 at LSUS.

The play was written by Lanford Wilson and will be directed by Robert Alford. Performances are Sept. 27 through Oct. 7.

For more information, call (318) 797-5283.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Set construction class seeking carpentry students

Instructors Ed Hughens (left) and Russell M. McConnell will teach "Set Construction" to aspiring film crew workers at Louisiana Technical College beginning Aug. 21. They stand on a courtroom set that was built by LTC students for BPCC's latest student movie project, "Criminal Justice 101."

For anyone aspiring to do work in carpentry or electrical on a movie set, this course would be a good place to start.

Fall registration at LTC begins Aug. 14. For more information, call (318) 676-7811.

'At the Movies' is on the web

My favorite new website of the week is It's a video archive of all the movie reviews by Siskel & Ebert, Ebert & Roeper and Roeper & guest critics. It purportedly offers 1,000 shows and 5,000 movies. (I haven't check.)

Ebert is, of course, not doing the TV show at the moment because of his ongoing struggle with cancer. (He continues to post written reviews at

Watch the thrashing of "Battlefield Earth." Listen to the ho-hum chatter about "Grosse Pointe Blank." Check out the enthusiasm for "Heavy," featuring Pruitt Taylor Vince, who will appear at a LSUS theater production soon.

The site has its navigation problems (where's the alphabetical index?). However, if you're looking for a movie from the last 15 or 20 years, you'll likely find it.

What I've always enjoyed about these critics are their inspired, reasoned debates. They don't shout. They don't interrupt for ego's sake. They have evidence for their claims. They see clearly through the marketing fog. And they often seriously disagree about what merits a thumbs up.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Robinson Film Center to screen 'Once'

On Aug. 30, the Robinson Film Center will screen "Once," an Irish musical set on the streets of Dublin. The screening is part of the ongoing Robinson Film Center Presents series.

The date may be look far away, but you better book if you want a seat. RFC sold out its recent screening of "Waitress."

"Once" took home the World Cinema Audience Award (drama) at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival.

The official synopsis reads:"Featuring Glen Hansard and his Irish band 'The Frames,' the film tells the story of a busker and an immigrant during an eventful week as they write, rehearse and record songs that reveal their unique love story."

"Once," directed by John Carney, presented by the Robinson Film Center.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Aug. 30.
WHERE: Regal Cinemas Louisiana Boardwalk Stadium 14, Bossier City.
COST: $7.50.
TO RESERVE: (318) 424-9090.

WEBSITE: click here (Fox Searchlight).
TRAILER: click here (Apple).
REVIEWS: click here (Metacritic).