October 11, 2016
From djournal.com: There are some things in this world that go way beyond human understanding – things that cannot be explained – things some people don’t even want to know about. You hear something go bump in the night. You see something out of the corner of your eye. You feel something on the nape of your neck.
Most unexplained events can be easily dismissed: The wind blew something over or faulty wiring made that bulb flicker, ominously. But, sometimes, you’re in a place with a history behind it. And whether those stories have been passed down over generations or are still actively discussed today, they haunt those areas as much as the ghosts in the stories.
Over the next four Fridays, the Daily Journal will be spotlighting four separate locations in Northeast Mississippi that share a common bond: ghosts and the legends that surround them.
The Lyric Theatre
What is now the home of Tupelo Community Theatre has undergone many changes since its inception in 1912.
At that time, R. F. Goodlett sought out financial backers to construct a vaudeville theater called The Comus. The structure remained a home for live theater until 1931, when it was purchased by the M.A. Lightman Company chain and turned into a movie theater. It was at that time the facility received its now iconic marquee and art deco appearance. From 1931 to 1984, lots of tales came out of the movie house, like Elvis Presley’s first kiss in the balcony during a Saturday matinee, but it was the 1936 tornado that decimated Tupelo, killing an untold number in its path, that gave credence – and still does – to the greatest story out of the Lyric Theatre.
“‘Antoine,’” said Tupelo Community Theatre executive director Tom Booth, chuckling. “Where did that name even come from? Nobody knows. I can’t for the life of me tell you where his name came from.”
“Antoine” is the name given to the Lyric’s local haunt, a presence that many have felt but few can put into words. Some see him as a glowing light, while others hear a childlike giggle in the darkness of the historic structure. TCT inherited the spirit, and his story, when they acquired the theater in the mid-’80s.
There are two separate stories of Antoine that have followed the theater to this day, and many off-shoots of the main legends.
One is that Antoine was a caretaker of the theater who worked under the stage, shoveling coal. It’s believed he may have even had an apartment in the facility he looked after.
The more popular legend is that Antoine was a small child killed during the twister of ’36. Whether he was killed and taken to the theater – which was used as a makeshift hospital and morgue in the aftermath of the tornado – or was taken there to be treated and died later remains a mystery, much like Antoine himself.
Still, strange things happen daily in the landmark, but Booth usually just chalks that up to it being a “big, old building.” That’s not to say he hasn’t had his own run-ins with Antoine.
October 6, 2016
From AL.com: Halloween is still more than three weeks away, but it’s not too early to start making your Christmas plans at the Alabama Theatre.
Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. today, Oct., 6, for the Alabama’s 2016 Holiday Film Series, and if you want to make sure to get tickets to see some of your favorite Christmas movies, you might want to go ahead and buy your tickets now.
Last Christmas season, a record 29,281 people attended the Holiday Film Series, and 12 of the 18 screenings were sold out, according to Brant Beene, executive director of Birmingham Landmarks, which owns and operates the Alabama Theatre.
“These are so popular,” Beene said. “People even plan their holidays around them.”
Tickets to this year’s movies are $8, with the exception of the two screenings of “The Polar Express.” Those tickets are $12, with proceeds benefiting Kid One Transport.
Order tickets online at Ticketmaster.com or by phone at 800-745-3000. There is an additional charge for online purchases.
Here is the 2016 Holiday Film Series schedule:
Dec. 9, Friday, 7 p.m. — “White Christmas.”
Dec. 10, Saturday, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. — “The Polar Express.”
Dec. 10, Saturday, 7 p.m. — “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”
Dec. 11, Sunday, 2 p.m. — “Miracle on 34th Street.”
Dec. 11, Sunday, 7 p.m. — “Elf.”
Dec. 12, Monday, 7 p.m. — “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Dec. 13, Tuesday, 7 p.m. — “Home Alone.”
Dec. 14, Wednesday, 7 p.m. — “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”
Dec. 15, Thursday, 7 p.m. — “Elf.”
Dec. 16, Friday, 7 p.m. — “A Christmas Story.”
Dec. 17, Saturday, 2 p.m. — Christmas Cartoon Matinee: “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
Dec. 17, Saturday, 7 p.m. — “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Dec. 18, Sunday, 2 p.m. — “White Christmas.”
Dec. 18, Sunday, 7 p.m. — “Home Alone.”
Dec. 19, Monday, 2 p.m. — “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Dec. 19, Monday, 7 p.m. — “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”
Dec. 20, Tuesday, 2 p.m. — “White Christmas.”
Dec. 20, Tuesday, 7 p.m. — “Meet Me in St. Louis.”
Dec. 21, Wednesday, 2 p.m. — “A Christmas Story.”
Dec. 21, Wednesday, 7 p.m. — “Elf.”
Dec. 22, Thursday, 2 p.m. — Christmas Cartoon Matinee: “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
Dec. 22, Thursday, 7 p.m. — “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”
The Alabama Theatre is at 1817 Third Ave. North in downtown Birmingham.
Friday, October 15, is a chance to learn some of what makes the magic happen behind the curtain along with the history and lore steeped in 95 years as an entertainment venue during the Waterbury Palace Theater’s upcoming monthly tour from 11a.m. to 12:30p.m.
For information, visit www.palacetheaterct.org, call 203-346-2000, or in person at the Box Office, 100 East Main Street, Waterbury. Groups larger than 10 people are asked to contact the Box Office to book their reservations in advance.
During the tour, attendees are led through nine decades of the theater viewing and hearing facts and lore, about the stunning architecture and backstage magic related to the Palace’s rich history. In addition to exploring the many spaces within the theater, patrons also have the opportunity to visit hidden areas not seen by the general public, like the green room, wig room and star dressing rooms, you can even stop to take a selfie at the stage door. Tour takers will also be able to experience the thrill of walking across the stage and viewing the venue’s hidden backstage murals featuring show motifs painted and signed by past performers and Broadway touring company cast members. Guests will also browse a collection of the theater’s pre-restoration photos, in addition to viewing elements from the Palace’s Tenth Anniversary History Exhibit, which include a visual timeline of historic milestones dating back to 1922, as well as original theater seats from the 1920s.
Each tour is approximately 90 minutes and is led by a team of engaging volunteers well-versed in the theater’s rich history, architectural design and entertaining anecdotal information. The walking tour covers five floors of history and architecture, including grand staircases from the 1920s. While elevator access is available, guests with walking disabilities or health concerns are asked to inform the Box Office ahead of time, so that the tour guides can make accommodations in advance to insure a pleasurable experience for all.
For general information about the venue, visit www.palacetheaterct.org.
October 5, 2016
Hollywood, CA – Followup: Vendor Carts Removed From Front of Historic TCL Chinese Theatre Following Social Media Controversy
From The Hollywood Reporter: A rep for TCL declines to comment, but known Los Angeles documentarian Alison Martino celebrates a victory for Hollywood preservationists: “Power to the people. Social media is an incredible force.”
A slew of souvenir carts and kiosks have been removed from the sidewalk in front of Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre, where the structures were blocking access to historic handprints, footprints and signatures of beloved stars such as Jean Harlow, Bette Davis and Lana Turner.
The removal comes after a dust-up on social media kick-started by noted Hollywood documentarian Alison Martino and her Vintage Los Angeles Facebook page, which posted a photo on Sept. 30 taken by Brian Donnelly. The image showed a retail structure selling inexpensive hats and T-shirts while covering iconic cement blocks lining Hollywood Boulevard in front of the theater. “How incredibly disrespectful,” the post reads, as seen below. “If Lucy and Ethel were to try and steal John Wayne’s footprints today, they couldn’t even find it! This is not a pretty sight TCL Chinese Theatres!”
The post generated more than 750 comments and 530 shares and was enough to launch a Change.org petition requesting the removal of the vendor carts from the forecourt, as well as a news story on Curbed Los Angeles. The petition, signed by more than 2,600 supporters as of Monday afternoon, called for the removal of the carts out of respect for Hollywood history and the millions of tourists who flock to the block each year.
“Capsules of Hollywood history, the cement blocks are precious to film enthusiasts all around the globe, many of whom travel a great distance to visit the forecourt and have the opportunity to see their favorites’ blocks,” the petition reads. “The current situation of the vending carts directly on top of the blocks reduces all citizens’ enjoyment of the forecourt, and does not even allow many visitors to see some of the blocks, being entirely covered by carts.… Please don’t allow commerciality to overshadow the history contained there.”
While it can be assumed that TCL opted to move the retail structures following the controversy, it’s not confirmed, because a rep for TCL Chinese Theatre declined to comment. It remains unclear where the vendor carts will go, though a source indicated they may be relocated to the nearby Hollywood & Highland mall.
Martino offered to talk, telling The Hollywood Reporter that she drove to the block on Monday once she heard that the carts were no longer in place. “It’s unbelievable — power to the people,” she said, crediting Donnelly with the original image and Elena Parker for launching the petition. “I’ve been operating the Vintage Los Angeles page for five years and I’ve never seen a reaction like this. The outcry and outrage grew really fast. My VLA community really took it to heart. It was their passion and perseverance that drove this. Social media is an incredible force.”
October 3, 2016
From Curbed LA: Visitors to Hollywood hoping for a classic photo-op pressing their hands into the prints of one of their favorite Hollywood luminaries may be a bit disappointed to discover that many of the iconic, concrete-preserved prints and celebrity signatures in the TCL Chinese Theatre courtyard have been covered over by another well-known Hollywood attraction: cheap souvenirs.
On Friday, the Vintage Los Angeles Facebook group posted a photo showing a rack of hats and t-shirts taking up a good-sized chunk of real estate next to Bette Davis’s handprints in the famous courtyard. As the post notes, the souvenir cart appears to be covering up the signatures of both Jean Harlow and Lana Turner.
Buenos Aires, Argentina – This 100 year old movie theatre was transformed into a breathtaking bookstore
From AOL.com: Whether you’re an avid bookworm, moderate reader or anywhere in between, there’s no doubt that glancing at this display of books will absolutely take your breath away.
The setup at El Ateneo Grand Splendid in Buenos Aires, Argentina makes you want to simultaneously run through the aisles singing yet stand back in awe.
October 2, 2016
Cleveland, OH – Capitol Improvements: Theatre Enthusiasts Face Grim Realities with Courage and Grace
From CleveScene.com: Representatives from the Detroit-Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO) and Cleveland Cinemas assembled a multi-generational bushel of Capitol Theatre enthusiasts Tuesday evening to discuss the west side movie theater’s financial challenges and explore options for enhanced marketing and publicity.
Last week, Cleveland City Council voted to restructure a loan made by the city to Detroit-Shoreway for the Capitol’s extensive renovations in 2009. The theater, which is owned by DSCDO and operated by Cleveland Cinemas, now has two more years of breathing room before it must begin making payments on the principal of the $1.5 million loan. Until September, 2018, the theater will only be required to make monthly “good will” payments of $100.
But the city is also asking that the theater develop concrete marketing plans to increase its business. Currently, the Capitol attracts 50,000 visitors per year. That’s less by half than initial projections, based on community surveys.
Jenny Spencer, DSCDO’s Managing Director, who led the meeting Tuesday, said that 50,000 visitors per year is enough to “keep the lights on,” but certainly not enough to pay back the loan, and not enough to make capital improvements — pun, this time, unintended — which are becoming necessary, even though the theater is only seven years old. Pricey new digital projection equipment, spot treatment for the theater’s old plaster, and cosmetic updates like new carpeting are all on the wish list, (in that order).
On the fundraising front, Spencer announced an inaugural benefit event, a gala-type big-ticket shindig scheduled for April 21, 2017, about which there are as yet few public details.
On the customer-attraction front, DSCDO is enlisting the neighbors. The meeting Tuesday, with gratis popcorn and veggie plates on the Capitol’s second-floor mezzanine, was positioned as a re-establishment of the “Friends of the Capitol Theatre” group. Given that movie theaters attract the highest percentage of their customers from the immediate neighborhood — the Cedar Lee being the region’s notable exception, due to its unique programming — Detroit-Shoreway wants community members to be the theater’s biggest champions.
And they are. The meeting’s attendees told stories of their personal outreach and marketing among social networks. Many of them said they forward Capitol emails to contacts who they think might enjoy certain films, for instance. Others said they regularly organize “dinner and a movie” outings with friends.
But those efforts aren’t quite enough, in the long-term — at least not without a critical mass of such efforts — and Cleveland Cinemas' wider publicity tactics have been frustratingly hit-or-miss, said Dave Huffman, the local theater chain’s director of marketing.
Though special events continue to do very well — the upcoming Seventh annual 12 Hours of Terror all-night movie marathon (October 15-16) is expected to be the biggest yet, collecting in a single night what most movies collect in a full one-month run, Huffman said — other efforts have fallen far short.
Films in the summer “Capitol Selects” series, for instance, were largely very poorly attended. And attempts to market the Capitol to Spanish-speaking audiences have failed dramatically.
“We’ve talked to every Spanish-speaking organization in town, and they all are incredibly enthusiastic,” Huffman said, “but people aren’t showing up for the movies.”
After pleading with a studio to get the mainstream Spanish-language film No Manches Frida, Huffman said, the Capitol posted the second-lowest gross in the country for that film. Box-office performances like that jeopardize the theater’s ability to get additional titles from the studio.
Therein lies the biggest challenge and Catch-22 for the Capitol, said Huffman. The theater hasn’t attracted enough business to convince studios to grant them certain films — they wanted to show Snowden at the Capitol, for example, but the studio said no — but they can’t attract the business they’d like without titles that people are interested in.
That said, marketing efforts continue apace. Screened at the Tuesday meeting was a new 30-second clip that will soon precede all films at the Capitol, a trailer explaining the Capitol’s renovations and its importance in the community. Additionally, the Capitol on Tuesday began its fall documentary series, and October will be saturated with cult horror classics in honor of the season.
Also encouraging are the neighborhood advocates — young professionals, mid-career types, seniors, and even a high-schooler, attending with his dad — who helped brainstorm additional special events and grassroots strategies long after the meeting had officially run its course.
September 29, 2016
From CentralMaine.com: The reddish glow in the evening sky on U.S. Route 201 east of downtown Skowhegan is a signal.
It’s a sign.
It’s the Skowhegan Drive-In Theatre, which moved into the future this past summer when it converted to digital projection.
This week, theater owner Don Brown stepped back from the future and into the past with the installation of a replica neon sign that looks just like the original sign did when the drive-in opened in 1954, mounted on a red 35-foot pole.
“They took the old sign that had been lying on the ground and they made a pattern from that and they duplicated it,” Brown said Wednesday as he turned on the sign with its bright red neon arrow pointing to the refurbished ticket booth at the entrance to the drive-in.
Sign Services Inc., of Stetson, did all the work, paid for with just over $8,000 from the Skowhegan facade grant program. The white sign with blue lettering spells out “Skowhegan Drive-In Theatre,” with “theater” spelled the old-fashioned way.
“It was the last piece of the original theater that we had not rehabilitated,” said Brown, 53. “It had been there for so many years and so many people have asked us, ‘Are you every going to do anything with the sign?’ that when the opportunity to apply for the facade grant came up, we did.”
Jeffrey Hewett, the town’s director of economic and community development, said it’s nice having the red glow of the neon arrow illuminating the evening sky along U.S. 201, also called Waterville Road.
Hewett said the sign is real neon with “glass set-asides” that hold the neon and copper wire that keeps it all in place.
“It brings back a lot of memories for me,” Hewett said. “In the daytime it doesn’t really grab you as much; it’s the nighttime and that kind of reddish glow that comes off that gets you. I don’t think that there are very many of the neon signs that are left anymore.”
Brown, who lives in Felton, Delaware, during the winter, bought the drive-in theater in May 2012 from Doug Corson’s Encore Skowhegan Drive-In.
The drive-in has a capacity of 340 to 350 cars, set old-fashioned-style in semicircles with a standing pipe that once held the audio speakers. Sound for the movies now comes over the car’s FM radio at 88.3 on the dial.
There are now five drive-in movie theaters in Maine, including Skowhegan’s, according to the website DriveInMovie.com.
Two years ago, an estimated 357 drive-in movie theaters remained in the United States, a steep decline from the 4,000 or 5,000 that gave drive-in theaters entertainment status in the late 1950s and ’60s. Generations of families have packed station wagons with coolers, lawn chairs and kids in pajamas, and young lovers went out for a night of cinema under the stars.
Brown said he wants to continue that tradition while polishing up some of the nostalgia of the experience along the way.
“We went right through the building when we came here in 2012. Everything has been reproduced to be of the original design. It’s just been modified on occasion here and there for more contemporary standards,” he said.
Everything, including the concession stand, looks “pretty much the same” as it did in the 1950s, Brown said. He said two of the movies that ran this past summer were on the old 35 mm film, but the rest — a new feature every week — were projected using the new digital equipment.
“I think what we’ve done with the drive-in combines the best aspects of the present yet preserves certain vital elements from the past that made the drive-in appealing,” he said.
He said bringing the drive-in into the digital age was necessary for the business to survive; it was either digital or die. Hollywood studios were phasing out 35 mm film and switching production to modern digital. The sign, on the other hand, combines the element of nostalgia with the contemporary projection.
Two years ago, on the 60th anniversary of the opening of the drive-in, Brown was facing a $40,000 investment in new equipment and modifications or he would be forced to close. With donations from the community, including a Stephen King marathon of scary movies and a lot of his own savings, Brown finally took delivery of the new projector.
“It’s neon, and there used to be a neon sign out there,” Randy Gray, Skowhegan’s code enforcement officer, said Wednesday. “So good for him for doing it.”
Brown said the drive-in is closed for the season, but he’ll leave the sign’s light on for a while Friday and Saturday night as a signal that he’ll be back in the spring for another summer of movies under the stars.
“The drive-in is unique because it combines elements of the past, such as the sign, with today’s modern technology, such as the projectors,” he said. “That’s been the constant over the years, over the generations, that the drive-in’s been around. The technology used has always been changing, but the experience has always been the same.”
September 28, 2016
From Oswego County Today: The Oswego County Historical Society is proudly celebrating the 75th anniversary of the historic landmark Oswego Theatre, which opened it doors in January of 1941.
A classic movie night showing the popular film “Casablanca” will be featured on October 13 at 7 p.m. in the Oswego Theatre, 138 W. Second St.
All proceeds from the event will support the Richardson-Bates House Museum in Oswego.
“This is a special milestone for one of our most iconic historic landmarks in Oswego,” said Justin White, president of the OCHS board of trustees. “The unique Oswego Theatre is a place of which many Oswegonians have nostalgic memories.”
Many interesting details have been added to make this a special event in Oswego’s historic cinema.
The evening show will be giving the feel of traveling back in time to the 1940s.
From The Mirror: Geoff Steele has been in the music and theatre business for over 30 years, experiencing all sides of the industry- from a singer himself in Nashville, to a touring technician, to marketing at a record company, to opening multiple theatres in Branson, and marrying a Branson-born entertainer. But there’s something about the Historic Gillioz Theatre that brings Steele, executive director at the Gillioz, particular joy and pride.
“There’s a tremendous amount of history here,” said Steele. “It’s part of what makes Springfield incredible; There’s not a lot of communities in the country that have this type of a venue, and most didn’t have them in their heyday.”
The Gillioz was funded and built in 1926 by Maurice Earnest Gillioz, a local bridge builder, right on historic route 66. Gillioz actually made a 90-year buyout deal with the laundromat and pharmacy that stood where the large entrance is now, just to have a spot literally on the route 66 road (now Park Central St.). At the time, it cost $300,000.
Despite being pre-dated by Springfield’s other historic venues- the Lander’s Theatre and the Shrine Mosque- the Gillioz was the town’s premier entertainment venue for nearly 60 years, serving as a ‘hybrid house,’ hosting vaudeville shows (live production) and popular movie premieres (silent films). It remained like this until vaudeville died out, surviving as a movie house for roughly 50 years.
“What made us premiere was the diversity in the programming, and I also think some of it was because it was home-built,” explained Steele. “Gillioz was a guy from Monet, and that’s not normal. Most of these places… were all owned by big chains… And that’s what I think still maintains a fondness for some of our rural people.”
Some guests that appeared throughout the theater’s history include Ronald and Nancy Reagan, when he was still an actor, for a movie of his that premiered at the Gillioz, and Elvis Presely, who snuck in to see a movie in between his performances at the Shrine Mosque one night in 1955.
The Gillioz was also a source of morale-boosting during the Great Depression and World War II; it used to host community songfests and local singing competitions.
Around 1970, however, the Battlefield mall opened, which caused all of the downtown businesses to close down. There was a movie theatre in the mall, as well as a few other small theatres popping up, making the Gillioz no exception to the declining downtown area.
“People didn’t have to go downtown to see movies anymore, and so it slowly went into disrepair. The theater actually lived longer than a lot of other parts of downtown because people still liked the nostalgia factor… But the Springfield downtown was a ghost town for years.”
After a rough few years, it closed its doors in 1980. However, in the 1990s, the Gillioz began its comeback. Jim Morris, the father of the founder of Bass Pro Shops, along with a few passionate members of the community, started to help raise money to restore the theater, on the condition that it remained in its 1926 condition.
“[Morris] had the financial means to see something done, and he’s old enough to have a strong emotional attachment to what the space was,” explained Steele. “I think he was convinced that it was plausible- that if someone was willing to spare the wrecking ball on it, there was a chance they could do something really special.”
Luckily, because Gillioz built the theatre with bridge material (steel and concrete) that was available to him, it was actually found that the building was so well-constructed that it would cost as much to repair the theatre as it would to tear it down. Morris created a non-profit, called the Springfield Landmarks Preservation Trust, and in the end, their side prevailed. The organization then raised over 10.5 million dollars from over 100 generous private and public donors to complete the project.
And, in 1991, they earned the Gillioz a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. This means that before the building could be bulldozed and destroyed like many similar historic landmarks, Congress would have to be addressed.
“This says ‘this space is of value to the American culture, and the United States Congress acknowledges that, and so we’re going to preserve it,’” said Steele. He continued: “These theatres are incredibly precious… but if we do this right, then this is our Rome in a few hundred years.”
Finally, in 2006, the Gillioz, restored true to its original 1926 design, reopened its doors to an excited and supportive community. Its debut also helped revitalize downtow
“The Gillioz coming back was a significant component to bringing downtown back to vitality,” said Steele.
However, it still wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine. According to Steele, the Gillioz went through an identity crisis around 2011 and 2012 because it was very focused on the college crowd, like most businesses at the time. When Steele arrived in October of 2014, he reverted back to the original mission of the ‘hybrid house.’
“When I first got here, I walked around this neighborhood and talked to stores and businesses, and I listened [to the community],” said Steele. The overwhelming response was that everyone loved and remembered the Gillioz, but a significant number of the people who were 40+ were feeling left out, wishing to see shows and performances they were interested in.
“That’s when we really got serious about diversifying,” said Steele. “[Now] we try to offer something for everyone.
Today the Gillioz, with a total of 1,024 seats, hosts a multitude of events and performances, including “Broadway productions, theatre, movies, religious gatherings, arts education, dining, rehearsals, school programs, banquets, receptions, concerts, film festivals, weddings, seminars/conventions, and television broadcasts,” according to its website.
Against all odds the Gillioz not only survived, but came back from the dead, and now it is thriving more than ever. Steele considers this survival, and the survival of Springfield’s other jewels, a monumental success. He chalks it up to the culture of theaters themselves.
“I have a theory that theaters are a place for a community to exercise its conscience… We’re social animals, and we want to have a shared experience,” he explained. “You can watch a movie alone, or you can go share an experience of watching a movie… it’s just something about who we are, and theaters give you that ability to have a shared experience.”
It’s because of this sharing and diversified nature that Steele truly believes in what he does. “I think these places are important. I think the opportunity to bring people together is a pretty great way to make a living,” he said. “After every show, I make a point to watch people leave, because that’s the pay day: seeing people happy. We just created a memory.”