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Bad Day at Black Rock 

No one ever thought the Royal Theater would reopen, but we're still sad that it's been leveled

Wednesday, Jul 23 2003
Respect must be paid, as Willy Loman's wife said. When the Royal Theater closed on the last day of February 1998, the chances of it ever reopening as a movie house were essentially nil. It's still a major drag to report the Royal's recent encounter with the wrecking ball, leaving a gaping patch of sky on both Polk and California streets -- at least until a residential building with retail stores at street level fills the space.

Ted Nasser spent a couple of summers as a lad managing the theater (his family owned it), and he felt a small twinge when he heard it was no longer standing. Nasser sold the building in September 2001; when escrow closed, he recalls, "There was a point I was a little sad." Nasser still keeps a hand in the movie business: His company owns and operates the Castro.

Election A gaggle of mayoral candidates -- including Angela Alioto, Tom Ammiano, Susan Leal, and Gavin Newsom -- has confirmed participation in the Bay Area Film Alliance's upcoming forum (Reel World, June 18). "We want the production community of San Francisco to be able to make informed choices when the time comes to vote," explains BAFA chair Anni Long. Of perhaps greater importance, Long notes, "This is an opportunity for the community to identify itself to the candidates. Frankly, the policies of City Hall have been detrimental to film and media production. We're losing [jobs] to other cities, states, and countries because they've had the wisdom to develop incentives, financial and otherwise."

Peter Coyote will moderate the event, with each top-tier candidate allotted 25 minutes to make a brief statement and answer questions. Intended for production professionals rather than the general public, the forum takes place July 31 in the Palm Room (capacity 250) at the S.F. Film Centre, 39 Mesa, in the Presidio. The Film Alliance will send out e-mails once the time is set, but contact info is listed at

I Am the Cheese Not to rush fall, but David Cronenberg will be at SFMOMA on Oct. 9 with his prescient 1983 film, Videodrome. ... Debra Chasnoff premieres her latest, tentatively titled Names, Oct. 21 at the Herbst Theatre. The educational film aims to wean children from name-calling and bullying. ... Before The Weather Underground opened in Manhattan, S.F. director Sam Green got a note from the New York City Anti-Terrorism Task Force. "This sounds like a fascinating subject. How can we get a copy of it?" The blurb may end up on the video/DVD box, Green jests. Now in its eighth week in N.Y., the doc opens July 25 at the Castro.

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Michael Fox


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