Thursday, March 25, 2010

TRENT REZNOR'S FROM WHERE?

Posted By on Thu, Mar 25, 2010 at 10:00 AM

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On Monday, Amazon.com announced that the on-again-off-again book about Nine Inch Nails’ Pretty Hate Machine would arrive April 1. The publisher, Continuum Books, confirms it now has a manuscript, but says it won’t be released until August or September.

The book is part of the 33 1/3 series, a collection of volumes about or inspired by classic albums. The author is Youngstown native Daphne Carr, who lives in Brooklyn and edits Da Capo’s Best Music Writing series.

“This is the story of the depraved, no-future land called the American Midwest in the 1980s, and of a boy who rose from a dismal town (population 2,300) to become one of the biggest selling musicians of the 1990s,” says Amazon’s statement. “Daphne Carr’s book will fill in the background of Trent Reznor’s early years in Mercer, Pennsylvania.”

Um, where?

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Carr assures Scene that the book will have plenty about Reznor’s years in Cleveland, where he made the album and launched the band: “The book spends quite a bit of time on Cleveland, both as part of Trent’s personal history and as part of a larger history of suburbanization and industrialization/deindustrialization. There is a chapter specifically devoted to Cleveland history, and within the other chapters, there are interviews with a number of Cleveland NIN fans, Cleveland musicians and people involved in the Cleveland music industry. Of course, there is also a chapter that traces Reznor’s time there working and recording.” — D.X. Ferris

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PORTRAIT BY THE ARTIST OF A YOUNG MAYOR

Posted By on Thu, Mar 25, 2010 at 8:00 AM

Cleveland City Hall still doesn’t have a portrait of former mayor Dennis Kucinich, as Plain Dealer political columnist Mark Naymik pointed out earlier this month. In response to the news, Cleveland Heights native Yotam Zohar sent Kucinich a letter, offering to take over the commission, free of charge, from Akron artist Matthew Hunt, who’s had the assignment for years.

“I have been a great supporter of your ideas since even before I could vote,” wrote Zohar. “If it would please the committee responsible for the commission of this work, I would happily complete the portrait within a matter of months, asking in return only that my work be remembered as a testament to my support of your leadership and passion for upholding what is right in the human spirit.

“The history of American painting deserves without question to have your memory captured and preserved on canvas. Let’s get this done! Mr. Hunt’s fee could be put to better use enriching the Cleveland community, and somewhere in City Hall, there is an empty wall space that deserves to hold this important documentation of an American visionary.”

On Tuesday, Zohar told Scene that he hasn’t heard from Kucinich.

“When you’re doing this kind of thing, it’s part pipe-dream,” says Zohar. “But you have to be optimistic, because if not, you may as well never be optimistic.” — Damian Guevara

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

CAMPAIGN MONEY CHANGES EVERYTHING

Posted By on Wed, Mar 24, 2010 at 2:49 PM

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason’s campaign finance reform panel has picked up a new member — Cuyahoga County Board of Elections Chair Jeff Hastings. At its inaugural meeting last Thursday, the group also discussed adding a few more members for the sake of racial diversity (former Cleveland law director Subodh Chandra was mentioned as a possible candidate). Mason, who appointed the panel, will get the final say on any new additions.

Despite public criticism over Mason’s control of the panel, the prosecutor expressed his desire to fix a campaign finance system that he’s benefited from in the past. The group seems intent on tackling the issue that political opponents have hung around Mason’s neck: employee contributions to officeholders’ campaigns.

The group’s most reachable goal may be electronic filing/online disclosure of campaign finances. Their most ambitious goal is to propose a model for public funding of campaigns. Either way, the panel can only make recommendations to the future county executive and county council.

The panel is mostly made of good-government activists, some intent on lessening the influence of corporate money on elections. But panelist Don Scipione, who served as treasurer for last fall’s successful Issue 6 campaign, offered a sobering take on the benefits of big-money contributions (the local business community bolstered the Issue 6 campaign).

“You get to see [the money] firsthand,” Scipione told the other panelists. “It’s impressive. You’re happy to get it because you need it to win.”

There was some discussion of holding meetings at times and places that more citizens could attend, but Mason announced that he’d already determined that the next meeting would be at 9 a.m. Thursday, April 1, on the first floor of the Justice Center. — Damian Guevara

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TRUE LIFE: I’M A TEENAGED SCREENWRITER

Posted By on Wed, Mar 24, 2010 at 2:40 PM

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Mayor Frank Jackson held a press conference on March 22 in his Red Room to announce that 15-year-old Angileece Williams, a sophomore at Saint Martin de Porres High School, is the winner of the Scenarios USA “What’s The REAL DEAL about Masculinity” writing contest. Each year, this national nonprofit organization selects three communities to host a contest inviting local youth to submit stories on issues that young people address on a daily basis. The writers of the winning stories are paired with professional Hollywood directors to turn their stories into short films.

“This shows that young people in the city can do amazing things,” said Jackson before introducing Scenarios USA founder Jill Paulsen, who spoke briefly about the organization’s interest in “motivating youth.”

New York-based writer-director Malcolm D. Lee (Roll Bounce, Undercover Brother) will direct Williams’ script. He talked about his Cleveland connections (his uncle was a CSU professor) and joked, “I am not here to try to poach LeBron James.”

Lee said Williams’ 15-page short story, Life’s Poison, about a troubled boy named Eliyah, is “poetic, cinematic and dramatic,” and called it “an extraordinary piece of work.” He added, “It’s a story that I can’t wait to start collaborating on.”

Lee and Williams have already spent a weekend scouting locations, and filming is slated to begin in May. Williams, who describes herself as a “regular teen who wanted to make a difference,” will devote the next month to turning her story into a screenplay. Scenarios organizers hope to screen the short film at next year’s Cleveland International Film Festival. — Jeff Niesel

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CIFF DOC EXAMINES OWNING ANIMALS THAT CAN KILL YOU

Posted By on Wed, Mar 24, 2010 at 2:34 PM

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Ohio native Michael Webber first worked in television as a commercial director. He later served as writer, director, producer and visual-effects supervisor on hundreds of television and motion-picture projects and spent several of those years producing feature films for the bigwigs at Twentieth Century Fox and Lionsgate. But in 2008, after a friend loaned him a few books about people who keep exotic animals as pets, he decided it was time to make his own damn film.

Without the backing of a major studio, he directed, produced and shot The Elephant in the Living Room. A sometimes-harrowing look at exotic animals and the people who own them, it focuses primarily on the relationship between Dayton-based Outreach for Animals director Tim Harrison and locally based lion owner Terry Brumfield. Harrison wants Brumfield to give his lions up for adoption so they don’t have to live in cages. Brumfield is attached to the creatures and doesn’t want to let them go. And while Brumfield’s treatment borders on abuse, he clearly does love the lions and has a strong bond with both the parents and their cubs, which he takes on trips to the local convenience store.

“I think both of the characters were complex and not one-dimensional,” says Webber. “The lion owner was very honest about not knowing if he was doing the right thing. Tim Harrison was honest too. I liked exploring those areas in those two characters. You see the complexity of the people and the issue.”

In fact, Webber has been criticized for not taking a clear stand against exotic animal owners. Though it features plenty of news reports about the havoc these animals can wreak when they get loose or turn on their owners, his film offers a balanced view. You certainly won’t mistake Michael Webber for Michael Moore.

“I want to let the film speak for itself,” he says when asked about his personal opinion on exotic pet ownership. “I was not interested in telling people what to think. In the end, they can make up their own mind. There’s no narration. I wanted to explore both sides. When I started the film, it wasn’t an agenda film. My point is that I was more interested in asking questions than answering them. The people in the film have agendas, but I stay out of it and follow their stories. The stories would end where they end.”
The film has been making its way around the festival circuit, including the Cleveland International Film Festival. It screens on Friday, March 26; Saturday, March 27; and Sunday, March 28; see the web site for details. Webber will attend a film forum after the Saturday screening. — Jeff Niesel


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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

PD ARREST PROTEST ABORTED

Posted By on Tue, Mar 23, 2010 at 3:56 PM

Plain Dealer union members were prepared to protest at the Cuyahoga County Courthouse last week if Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold made good on her threat to arrest PD reporter Gabriel Baird for not immediately divulging the source of leaked documents from the case of alleged serial killer Anthony Sowell.

Before Judge Timothy J. McGinty identified himself as the source, PD management allowed employees to leave work to support Baird at a Wednesday, March 17 hearing. A dozen of them, most reporters, appeared in court. Had Baird been arrested, they had 50 signs that read “Don’t shackle the press” ready for a protest outside the courthouse.

“There was a lot of concern,” says PD Newspaper Guild Chair Harlan Spector. “Reporters and editors wanted to back Gabe up. It’s a free press issue. The Guild has a strong position on that. It’s fundamental to democracy that a reporter be able to do his job without being thrown in the clink.” — D.X. Ferris

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Friday, March 19, 2010

NEIL PATRICK HARRIS IS ATTACKING THE CITY!

Posted By on Fri, Mar 19, 2010 at 8:00 AM

Last year, L.A.-based filmmaker and make-up artist Frank Ippolito came to town to hustle up recruits to attend the screening of his two shorts, Teller 1 and Teller 2, which showed at the Cleveland International Film Festival. This year, the Cleveland native is at is again, this time to promote Dracula’s Daughters vs. the Space Brains, a six-minute film that stars Neil Patrick Harris as a space-alien victim who has a run-in with a pair of vampire sisters (Aprella and Erica Taylor).

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“The title doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination,” admits Ippolito, who flew in this week to attend the film festival, which runs from March 18-28. “Just by the title, you know what you’re getting into.”
Shot in only three days, the film took two months to prepare — and when you see the special effects, you’ll understand why.

Ippolito says he was first drawn to the world of makeup when he was 10 and saw a documentary about the making of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video. He made a mask in his basement, and things snowballed from there. He made up actors at Geauga Lake’s Halloween events for five seasons before moving to L.A. in 2000 to be a mold maker at a toy company. That company went under, but he landed a gig on the 2002 fantasy flick Reign of Fire, and that led to jobs on Scary Movie 2, Pirates of the Caribbean and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Casting Harris, whom he knew through the magician Teller (the subject of the Teller shorts), wasn’t difficult. “He likes quirky things,” says Ippolito. “Most of the stuff I see him do is a little weird, so he thought it was cool. It wasn’t a struggle to get him to say yes.”

Dracula’s Daughters screens at 11:30 p.m. Friday, March 19, during the midnight shorts program at Tower City Cinemas. Ippolito will be on hand. “It’s always neat coming home and being able to hold a premiere at a hometown festival,” he says. “When we made it, the first thing I did was check to see what the deadlines were for Cleveland. We just finished it a couple of weeks ago.” Find more info about his films at ddvsb.com. — Jeff Niesel

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