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Touch of Evil 

Peter Bogdanovich spins tales about Orson Welles

Wednesday, Apr 24 2002
House of Angels The Ninth Street Media Arts Consortium is just three months away from moving into its new digs on Ninth between Mission and Howard, a hop and a skip down the boulevard from its current home. The consortium -- the Film Arts Foundation, Frameline, the National Asian-American Telecommunications Association, Cine Acción, the Jewish Film Festival, and the National Alliance of Media Arts and Culture -- paid $3.7 million for the building, according to Frameline Executive Director Michael Lumpkin, and is spending another $2 million to construct the various organizations' spaces.

The floor plan is designed to maximize the efficient use of the entire space. "The lease was so low in the current building that we were living in kind of a dream world for 20 years," Lumpkin explains. "Frameline has a big room we fill with festival staff a few months of the year, and NAATA has the same thing. In the new building, we'll be sharing a space and moving in and out of it." Same goes for the largest area in the structure, a conference room on the ground floor that will double as an 80- to 100-seat theater.

As part of the consortium's ongoing capital campaign, an all-night bash with the provocative title "17mm: An Interlude Bringing Together Film and Vinyl" will be held Saturday, April 27, at Kelly's Mission Rock (817 China Basin). For more details about the event, which is aimed at introducing the underground dance community to independent filmmakers and performance artists, visit

Touch of Evil Director and film historian Peter Bogdanovich first learned about the events that provide the basis for his current picture, The Cat's Meow -- that is, the reckless, hushed-up doings on William Randolph Hearst's boat in 1924 that resulted in the death of producer Thomas Ince -- from his mentor and friend Orson Welles in the late 1960s. "We were taping for the book we eventually did [This Is Orson Welles, 1992]," Bogdanovich recalled when he breezed through town two weeks ago, "and he was at pains to tell me that, contrary to popular misconception, Charles Foster Kane was not supposed to be Hearst. He was supposed to be a combination of three or four people, of which one of them was Hearst. 'Well, you know about the thing on the yacht,' Orson said. My mouth fell open." After relating the tale of jealousy and power, Welles said, "You see, that's Hearst. That's not Kane."

The episode nearly saw the light of the silver screen back in 1941, Bogdanovich revealed. "In the first draft of Citizen Kane by Herman Mankiewicz, called American, he had inserted this incident into the script and Orson took it out. '"That's not Kane,' he said." Bogdanovich frequently reflected on Welles while he was working on The Cat's Meow, he admitted. "I often think about Orson, because I loved him dearly. Orson's spirit ranges over a lot of things in my life." The Cat's Meow opens Friday; see Page 50.

A Place in the Sun Ending a streak of several years in which PBS's "P.O.V." documentary series culled a major chunk of its lineup from the Bay Area, the 2002 schedule includes just two local titles. Lourdes Portillo's Señorita Extraviada airs Aug. 20 while Nancy Kates and Bennett Singer's Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin airs next winter. ... The Film Arts Foundation hosts the first in a batch of free, organized networking events for local filmmakers this Friday, April 26, at 7 p.m. at 346 Ninth St. In addition to schmoozing opportunities, "Meet Your Maker" includes 15 short screenings (from three to 14 minutes each), music, and beers for two bucks apiece.

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Michael Fox


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