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S.F. novelist Noah Hawley becomes Hollywood's newest writer/director

Wednesday, Jun 26 2002
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Once upon a time, writers wrote and directors directed. Then Preston Sturges and Billy Wilder breached the barricades, and the writer/ director was born. S.F. novelist Noah Hawley (A Conspiracy of Thin Men) is the latest scribe to follow that well-trod path. He's currently shooting a short narrative film, Being Vincent, in L.A. under the auspices of Fox Search Lab, Fox Searchlight's new director development program. As part of the deal, the studio gets first crack at any feature directing projects that Hawley takes on.

"It's been kind of a whirlwind the last two years, building relationships down here," Hawley confided when I reached him by phone. His original screenplay, The Yes Men, is on track to shoot this fall, with former S.F. performance artist and theater director Charles Herman-Wurmfeld (Kissing Jessica Stein) inked to direct. Another script, The Alibi, is moving forward with the producers of Memento, and Paramount has also hired Hawley to adapt Conspiracy for the screen. But he has no plans to relocate to Tinseltown. "It's the same reason I haven't, as a fiction writer, moved to New York," he explains. "There's a book party every night and you're always ranked in the room." Everybody's working on a screenplay in L.A., which is hardly the case here. "It's nice when you don't feel like you're competing with everybody in town."

The End of the Affair The landlord canceled Landmark Theatres' lease on the Park Theater in Menlo Park, dooming the movie house to closure after the last show on July 28. However, the Jewish Film Festival had booked the Park Aug. 4-8 for the South Bay segment of its annual megillah. The three parties are negotiating to keep the theater open for the fest. ... The time is nigh to say hasta luego to the Fine Arts Cinema, which closes its Berkeley doors on June 30. Lotte Reiniger's animated gem The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) lights up the screen for four of the last five days (June 26, 27, 29, and 30), with an S.F. Cinematheque program of experimental shorts unspooling on June 28. Keep an eye out for "Fine Arts Cinema on the Road" at venues around the Bay Area -- and for the debut of a new 300-seat theater two years hence.

Ride Lonesome If you see somebody on a street corner holding a white hankie in the air, it's likely a local filmmaker waving goodbye to Julie Mackaman. An incomparable resource for Bay Area independents, Mackaman is rolling back east after three decades on the Left Coast. She was one of the first staffers to join the Film Arts Foundation in the '70s, serving as the nonprofit organization's development director and helping Executive Director Gail Silva run FAF for a decade. Mackaman provided straight-shooting advice to countless artists during her tenure, then continued to consult and write grants after leaving FAF several years ago. Although she consistently gave all credit to the filmmakers, her contributions to the local indie scene cannot be overstated. Happy trails, Julie.

The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail Provocateur Michael Moore screens clips from his Cannes-honored documentary Bowling for Columbine when he's feted June 28 at the Legal Community Against Violence's annual fund-raising dinner. Call 433-2062 for tickets. ... If, however, you find that you can't get off the couch that night, KQED airs Eric Slade's Hope Along the Wind: The Life of Harry Hay at 9 p.m. We hear the pioneering gay activist has postponed his cataract surgery until July so he can watch the broadcast with friends.

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Michael Fox

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