Bill Murray Charms Brooklyn; Tim Kirkman Plans New Film; Gen Art Opens & More
by Wendy Mitchell
INDUSTRY MOVES: Desi del Valle is steppning down from her post as director of Frameline Distribution to "focus on other career objectives," including acting. Maura King, who has been del Valle's distribution associate for two years, will serve as the interim distribution director.
Dave Noll has been promoted to City Lights Television, a newly expanded division of City Lights Media. Michael Krupat joins the company as director of development; he previously worked as a doc producer at Court TV. Also, Amy Oppenheim has been named manager of TV development.
BILL IN BROOKLYN: The Brooklyn Academy of Music hosted a special evening with Bill Murray on Tuesday night, to kick off its "What About Bill Murray" retrospective (running through May 5); Brooklyn perhaps hasn't seen this much excitement since the days of the Dodgers. Every screening of the several Murray films shown on Tuesday was sold out, as was the Q&A discussion with Elvis Mitchell, held in the voluminous Opera House after the flicks. The museu has been trying to get Murray for three years; evidently the fans were just as eager, as Murray was greeted by a lengthy standing ovation when he took the stage. He drew laughs with jokes about "Meatballs," his story about meeting Hunter S. Thompson poolside in Aspen, and when asked where he got the "zen karma in his performances," replied "Bed, Bath & Beyond." Murray also offered more wise insights into his career and his profession, and talked about the sense of duty he felt when tackling Polonius in "Hamlet" and other more serious roles.
When an audience member asked about his role in Wes Anderson's forthcoming "The Life Aquatic," Murray said the shoot was "an absolute hell" as it stretched from a planned three months to more than five months, and the cast and crew had to deal with the cold Italian winter. But it was evidently worth it: "It's the best movie that [Anderson] has ever made," Murray said. "I'm proud of everything that's on the screen." When an audience member blurted out that Murray was robbed of the Oscar for "Lost in Translation," he smiled and assured that audience, "I'm really okay... I don't care about the prizes. Making movies is the only thing I can do really well in my life that's not a disaster." In closing, special guests told their favorite stories about Murray, from the producer that Murray pranked by putting gravel in his hubcaps to Jim Jarmusch's recollection of walking down the street 12 years ago when Murray recognized HIM and invited him out for a cup of coffee (Murray now appears as himself in Jarmusch's forthcoming "Coffee and Cigarettes.")
Before the Q&A, BUZZ was lucky enough to attend a rare screening of "Nothing Lasts Forever," a little-seen 1984 gem written and directed by Tom Schiller, one of the great SNL writers who happens to be married to our pal (and former indieWIRE editor) Jacque Lynn Schiller. The film is both retro and futuristic (and also perfectly mocks the '80s art scene), exploring a world in which New York City is ruled by the Port Authority and a man searches for love and artistic inspiration by taking a bus (manned by Bill Murray) to the moon. This was Schiller's only feature film, and Murray remarked that renewed interest in this one might spur Schiller to make another one. Murray called the director "one of the few people I think of as being truly brilliant," and also quipped that Schiller's old SNL sketches "come from another planet, like Tom."
SAVING GEN ART: The Gen Art Film Festival kicked off its ninth year on Wednesday night with a screening of Brian Dannelly's "Saved!," about a Christian high school senior whose world is rocked when she finds out she's pregnant by her gay boyfriend. Attendees on the red carpet included stars Mandy Moore, Jena Malone, and Eva Amurri (with proud parents Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins), director Dannelly, and -- for some reason -- Miss Teen USA 2003. The stars, however, didn't show up at the after-party at cavernous new club Black. To fit with the religious theme of the film, there were nuns dancing in cages; Boru vodka also helped loosen up the crowd. The Gen Art fest continues through Tuesday night with films and parties each night.
HEAD ON WITH "LOGGERHEADS": LasalleHolland, the company recently formed by Gill Holland and Lillian Lasalle, is starting production in May on its first feature, "Loggerheads," directed by Tim Kirkman. The film, inspired by a true story, will chronicle three interwoven stories set in different times, all set in different parts of North Carolina (where the film will be shot). "Loggerheads" stars Elizabeth Perkins ("Big") as a woman who moves in with her mother (Melinda Dillon, Oscar nominee for "Absence of Malice" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind") and searches for the child (Kip Pardue, "Remember the Titans," "Thirteen") she gave up for adoption. Meanwhile, the son is a drifter living in a coastal town trying to save endangered turtles and drawn to a local motel owner (Michael Kelly, "Dawn of the Dead"). Oscar nominee and "The West Wing" star Stockard Channing plays his adoptive mother, a small town minister's wife. Kirkman previously directed the Emmy and Independent Spirit Awards-nominated "Dear Jesse," a 1998 documentary about Kirkman's thoughts on North Carolina senator Jesse Helms. Oliver Bokelberg ("The Station Agent") is on board as cinematographer, and Cindy Tolan ("Casa de los Babys," "Personal Velocity") cast the film. Gill Holland ("Hurricane Streets") is producing, with Stephen Hays and Lillian Lasalle executive producing.
QUEER CHANNEL: Here! TV, a new cable channel devoted to exclusively gay and lesbian programming, has announced content licensing deals with TLA Releasing, Wolfe Video, Strand Releasing, and Regent Worldwide Sales for 200 indie film titles. here! also plans to produce more than 200 hours of original programming (features, docs, series, and specials) per year. here! Is currently a pay-per-view service with several selections offered per month to 22 million homes; on October 1, it will extend its service to launch a full round-the-clock schedule of movies, original series, rerun TV shows, and other programming. On June 1, the company will ramp up its video on demand programming -- available on DirecTV and Echostar, to 30 hours per month.
GIRLHOOD, INDEED: Congrats to filmmaker Liz Garbus ("Girlhood," "The Farm: Angola, USA") and her husband Dan Cogan, who welcomed a baby girl, Amelia Garbus Cogan, on April 9. Moxie Firecracker Films, which Garbus founded with Rory Kennedy, reported that baby Amelia weighed 7 pounds, 7 ounces, and both mother and baby are doing well.
400 FILMS FOR FREE: Manhattan rock club Arlene's Grocery will host it's fourth-annual "Picture Show" from April 23-26. The festival plans to screen more than 400 films (for free!) in several Lower East Side locations: The Pink Pony, Earth Matters, Lotus, Loisaida Café, and Arlene's Grocery. The opening night film will be "Scenes From a Class Struggle in Beverly Hills," and the opening-night after-party is already shaping up with a performance by Joe Jackson, a fashion "event" by the SuicideGirls, and -- someone warn Mayor Bloomberg -- a tobacco promotion with Nat Sherman. The festival's submission motto is: "Nobody wants to see your film? WE DO!," but the offerings don't look too shabby: highlights include "Jesse's Last Night," two hours of David Friedman's home video shot the night before his brother went to prison (as seen in "Capturing the Friedmans"), Deverill Week's experimental short "Eulogy," starring Gary Oldman and Rosanna Arquette, Jimmy Picker's claymation short "The Age of Ignorance," a collection of 19 vintage shorts by our pal Tom Schiller (see BAM story above), the "Being John Malkovich" parody "Being Ron Jeremy," and child labor doc "Stolen Childhoods," narrated by Merryl Streep. The April 26 awards show will honor Wallace Shawn with the Rockets Redglare award for independent achievement, and presenters at the show will include Jesse Friedman, filmmakers Albert Maysles and John Cameron Mitchell, and Village Voice columnist Michael Musto.