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Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, I Went Down

Wednesday, Mar 22 2000
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Marina boychik Gavin Newsom is upset the UA Metro is on the block. So are you, but you don't chair the Board of Supervisors' Small Business, Economic Vitality, and Consumer Services Committee. Newsom opened last Thursday's public hearing to consider the status of single-screen theaters by acknowledging that multiplexes have economic advantages. "But that doesn't make them right for the city," he said. Oh? So how come the city has green-lighted plexes for the future cruise ship terminal at Piers 30/32, Bloomingdale's, and the Fillmore Jazz Preservation District project devised by the Redevelopment Agency?

Jim Morales of said agency cited a study concluding that San Francisco is still underscreened. Then he added, "The demise in single-screen theaters would occur even if the city didn't OK another multiplex." That was agreeable news to one Robert McCarthy, an obfuscating lawyer representing UA at the hearing, who played the victim card to cover the Metro's eventual doom. "The distributors are running the show," he asserted. Then he blamed the multiplex boom, including the gurus behind the Fillmore development: "City policy is consistent with the way economic forces are going," he added, a deft way of saying that nobody in their right mind opens a single-screen anymore.

Live theater vet Steve Dobbins pitched the intriguing idea of converting shuttered theaters into mixed-use spaces, with corporate meetings during the day and plays, concerts, or movies at night. Newsom welcomed every conceivable suggestion. "While market forces have an incredible effect, I don't ever accept inevitability," he declared. The supe's closing words: "Support your neighborhood theater."

I Went Down
The Oscar dream ends Sunday (or climaxes, if you're the optimistic type) for Genghis Blues brothers Roko and Adrian Belic. But they wisely leveraged their nomination into Hollywood meetings, hoping to direct a feature about Ed Artis, a Vietnam vet who raises millions to airlift medical supplies to impoverished, war-torn countries. ... Phil Kaufman's Quills, which wrapped production a mere three months ago, had a successful "marketing screening" in greater suburban Los Angeles. In fact, Fox Searchlight liked the cut enough to submit the film to the MPAA. The verdict: an R rating for "strong sexual content including dialogue, violence, and language." I'm not smart enough to know the difference between "dialogue" and "language," but who cares when there's "strong sexual content"? ... Autumn in New York, starring the desperate-for-a-hit Winona Ryder, is at Saul Zaentz Film Center for its final mix. S.F.-based actress/ director Joan Chen (Xiu Xiu) has an offer to direct another expensive, star-driven pic, which would give her the clout and cash to helm a movie actually about something. ... I know every film festival has to rustle a few celebs, and Ryder has a local connection, but her selection as this year's Peter Owens Award-winning thespian by the S.F. International Film Festival is the lamest pick since Geena Davis. ... PBS's summer 2000 "P.O.V." slate of up-close-and-personal documentaries includes a mere three representatives from the Bay Area: Doug Wolens' Butterfly, Deann Borshay's First Person Plural, and Stephen Olsson's Our House in Havana. ..., one of the Web sites battling for market share in the new world of Internet film distribution, is moving its headquarters from S.F. to L.A. in late April. Why? At this instant in time, the Internet is all about deals and investment

Michael Fox is host of Independent View, which airs a one-hour Academy Awards special this Friday at 10 p.m., Saturday at 10:45 p.m., and Sunday at 4 p.m. on KQED Channel 9.

About The Author

Michael Fox


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