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Reel Deals

Back Talk


Published March 14, 2001 at 3:48 p.m.

It’s a wrap. After five weeks at the Savoy Theater, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon has finally soldiered on. The Ang Lee film broke all kinds of attendance and revenue records at the Montpelier movie house, including “longest run” and “most people through the door.” Its success put the single-screen cinema in an enviable, if somewhat ironic, blockbusted position. Co-owner Rick Winston says the resulting run was an economic boon for the Savoy, but concedes it frustrated some fans who were eager to see other indie offerings. “I wouldn’t say they complained,” Winston says. “It registered that they would really like to see something else”. . . Filmmaker Jay Craven is stepping out of Howard Frank Mosher mode — at least temporarily. The Vermont filmmaker was hired by novelist Scott Lax to write and direct a movie based on his book about high schoolers coming of age after Kent State. Craven has already written — and been paid for — the screenplay for The Year That Trembled, which is scheduled to shoot this May in Ohio. “It’s a new and interesting look at the whole Vietnam era,” reports Craven’s wife and fellow filmmaker Bess O’Brien. Will it delay fall production on Disappearances, Craven’s third full-length feature based on a Mosher book? It depends on fundraising and the impending strike in Hollywood. “We could be shooting two movies in the next six months, or we could be shooting none,” says O’Brien. “But hopefully, we’ll be doing at least one.” . . . The Legislature is considering an amendment to Act 250 that would facilitate the construction of temporary movie sets in Vermont. But that is not what brought Norwich filmmaker Nora Jacobson to the Golden Dome last month. The director of My Mother’s Early Lovers has been doing some Statehouse scouting for a new feature that deals with kids and drinking. She’s finished the script about a girl whose life is turned upside down when her best friend is killed in a car accident after a teenage party is busted up by the cops. There are legal ramifications, of course. The girl’s father is a state representative.

BUSTING BORDERS: You can say what you want about “evil” bookstore chains. At Borders, Brian Hadley was the local face. The lean, long-haired “community relations coordinator” welcomed Vermont writers, musicians, actors, artists and filmmakers with a funky enthusiasm that almost made you forget you were dealing with an out-of-state entity. Last month came an inevitable reminder — a downsizing “pink slip” from corporate headquarters in Ann Arbor. “After an 18-month study,” the press release reads, “Borders Group Inc. … has decided to eliminate the majority of its staff of 330 community relations coordinators.” That means after six years with the company, Hadley is out of a job. He’ll be replaced by an “area marketing manager” who will likely be responsible for scheduling and promoting events at not one but four or five Borders stores in Vermont and New Hampshire. That means less “face time” with local artists. “They won’t be walking up Church Street saying ‘hi’ to everybody,” Hadley predicts, although he still will be. Hadley plans to stick around, hiring himself out to local bands to assist with touring, publicity or product development. So if you’re looking to land a gig at the new Borders…

DIS-CONNECTED: For many North Country Public Radio (88.3 FM) listeners, he was the audio version of caffeine — a morning stimulant that became a crucial part of the a.m. routine. When Christopher Lydon vanished from airwaves in mid-February, many fans assumed “The Connection” talk-show host was away on vacation. In fact, he was canned, as a result of a contract dispute with his “employer” — WBUR in Boston. Lydon wanted a financial stake in the success of his popular show, like the “Car Talk” guys have with theirs. The public radio higher-ups showed him the door, and then locked it behind him. The controversy has played out in the Boston Globe as well as in the online magazine Salon, where nature writer Bill McKibben lamented the loss of “the best call-in radio show that anyone’s ever done.” Over at North Country, “We’ve received a very significant amount of mail about this, a good portion of it from our Vermont listeners,” says station manager Ellen Rocco. The Canton, New York-based station was one of the first outside of Boston to pick up the show, which airs 10 a.m. - 12 noon, and Rocco says they’ll sign on to a replacement — as long as Lydon is at the mike. Stay tuned…

BETWEEN THE LINES: O Color ne month after it was played up on the cover of Vermont Business People magazine, Burlington-based — which was acquired by in October — has laid off 20 percent of its staff. Among the casualties is Greg Glade, who originated the company’s popular speaker series. The slide shows will go on, he says, but he’ll be producing them independently. Asked about the changes, owner Spencer Newman referred the “media inquiry” to corporate headquarters in Washington, D.C. CEO Sean Greene says it was “about streamlining the company and reducing costs.” … Charlotte writer Tom Paine was one of two finalists for a prestigious literary award presented by PEN New England. His debut book of short stories, Scar Vegas, was up for a Ernest Hemingway Foundation-PEN Award for a distinguished first book of fiction. Paine lost out to Akhil Sharma, who will be honored at the John F. Kennedy Library on April 29. Instead of top billing, Paine gets an optional residency at the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming. Mary Sullivan at PEN New England describes it as “gorgeous — a place for writers to write.” Yee-ha! m