Back Talk | Back Talk | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Published February 20, 2002 at 4:00 a.m.

Major casting changes are afoot among the administrative stars of the Vermont film industry. At a recent legislative reception, Bill Stetson announced he is stepping down as president of the Vermont Film Commission, a governing board of volunteers that oversees state efforts to attract movie business to the state. A founding leader of the organization, Stetson also let slip that Loranne Turgeon is looking to leave her paid post as executive director in the next couple of months. The Newport native quit a DreamWorks job in California to be Vermont’s first state cinema czarina. She has worked tirelessly with penny-pinching producers and backwater town councils to make the state an appealing “location” for Hollywood films. The last year has been particularly frustrating, Turgeon says, because of a combination of Canadian tax incentives, national union problems and, of course, the economy. “I want to get back into the actual physical making of films,” says 35-year-old Turgeon, who adds it is “highly unlikely” she will stay in Vermont. “I like the major motion-picture world. I’m never going to give up the dream of making big pictures.” She’ll maintain her connection to the Green Mountain State by sitting on the board that hired her four years ago. Stetson is also staying, as veep, while Sue Kruthers of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce takes over as president. There has also been some reshuffling on the Vermont International Film Foundation board. Burlington College prof and film critic Barry Snyder is replacing Tom Garrett, who has overseen the annual film festival for the last three years. Undaunted by deficits, Snyder says organizers are committed to keeping the festival in downtown Burlington and focused on its core concerns: the environment, human rights and war and peace. Meanwhile, in Montpelier, Savoy staffers are gearing up for the Green Mountain Film Festival that runs for 10 days at the end of March. After the show, perennial projectionist Chris Wood is giving up his managerial role at the theater to devote more time to all his other jobs, including his paid one at Central Vermont Community Land Trust, and his volunteer board president post at Studio Place Arts in Barre. A former Savoy employee, Peter Kadlec is coming to the rescue from Boston, where losing a dot-com job apparently renewed his appreciation for the security of single-screen cinema.

IN BRIEF Pakistan and India agree on one thing: Huck Gutman. The University of Vermont professor and “senior aide” to Bernie Sanders has been contributing regular columns to newspapers in both countries. Gutman started writing for the daily Statesman more than a year ago while on a Fulbright in Calcutta. “I contributed some analysis of the presidential election, and they started printing it,” says Gutman. That caught the attention of the editors at Pakistan-based Dawn, who also invited him to be a regular on the op-ed page. Speaking for the United States in the foreign press “gives me a sense of obligation,” he says. Even more sobering, “Sometimes Henry Kissinger is on one day, and I’m on the next.”. . . Debbie Salomon may be done at The Burlington Free Press, but you can expect occasional stories by the retiring writer from her new home in Montréal. After 15 years cooking up stories for the daily, Salomon chalks up her leaving to “the progression of life.” She adds, “I’m tired.” As well she should be. Salomon has been cranking out copy as consistently as she serves up brownies in the newsroom every Friday. “I work with wonderful people under mostly pleasant circumstances,” says Salomon, noting her beat is much more benevolent than, say, covering the Statehouse.“It’s been a great job.” . . . For the next few weeks, getting “back to work” for Vermont Public Radio commentator Willem Lange will involve a two-hour commute to Burlington for an acting job. The New Hampshire-based nature-loving storyteller is playing the narrator in the Vermont Stage production of Our Town. “We dickered a bit, and he signed on,” director Mark Nash says of Lange. But can he act? “That’s a really good question,” Nash says. “I don’t think I’d cast him in any other role than this, and yet I can’t think of anybody more perfect.” . . . Novelists dream of reviews like the one Burlington writer David Huddle got last Sunday in The New York Times Book Review. Jane Mendelsohn conducted a careful study of La Tour Dreams of the Wolf Girl, noting its painterly prose is perfectly suited to the plot, which involves an art history professor, a 17th-century French painter and a teen-age art model. She also notes Huddle is a “cerebral” writer whose characters seem to “disintegrate and reconstruct midparagraph”— like light... A less reputable newspaper — The Weekly World News — also ran a piece about a celebrated Vermont resident last week. The Champlain Monster made the tabloid for an alleged amorous encounter with his Scottish equivalent in Loch Ness. “But after the titanic, six-hour love romp, the male beast showed no interest in cuddling,” the story goes. Now Nessie is pregnant, Champ is back in his own pond, and the Scots are calling for the return of our “deadbeat-dinosaur dad”...