Rock the Oscars 2019: Opening of the Clinton Presidential Center

Probably the largest gathering of Oscar winners and Oscar nominees in Little Rock’s history took place in November 2004.

Though some Oscar winners and nominees had been present for the Clinton election night parties in 1992 and 1996, the opening of the Clinton Presidential Center brought luminaries from Hollywood en masse.

Among those present were Oscar winning actors Barbara Streisand, Robin Williams, and (of course) Arkansan Mary Steenburgen.  Future Oscar winner Morgan Freeman was also in attendance. Among the Oscar nominees who were present were Bono and The Edge (who performed at the ceremony) and Alfre Woodard.

Senator John Glenn, who had been featured as a character in the Oscar winning film The Right Stuff was also present for the festivities.  Former Vice President Al Gore did not actually win an Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth (the documentary awards go to the director), but was closely identified with this Oscar winning documentary.

There were plenty of rumors about other Oscar winners and nominees in town, though they were not true.

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Rock the Oscars 2019: Mary Steenburgen

It is Oscar month, so it is fitting to highlight at Arkansas’ own Academy Award winning actress, Mary Steenburgen on her birthday.  She was born on February 8, 1953, in Newport, Arkansas.  After moving to North Little Rock as a schoolgirl, she had her first starring role as Emily in the 1971 Northeast High School production of Our Town, which was the new school’s first play.

Her big break in the movies came when Oscar winner Jack Nicholson picked her to star opposite of him in Goin’ South.  This was followed by Time after Time before she appeared in Melvin and Howard.  For that film, she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.  It also marked the first of three times she starred with Jason Robards (the other two being Parenthood and Philadelphia).  Over the years, her films have run the gamut from period piece (Ragtime, Cross Creek) to sophisticated comedy (Romantic Comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy) to fantasy (Back to the Future III) to holiday comedy (Elf).  She has been hard to pigeonhole into a specific “type” of actor because she has played so many different types of roles.

Throughout her career, Mary Steenburgen has been a champion of the arts in Central Arkansas.  In 1986, she starred in and was executive producer of End of the Line, filmed in Central Arkansas, directed and co-written by Arkansan Jay Russell, and also starring Kevin Bacon, Wilfred Brimley, Levon Helm, Barbara Barrie and Holly Hunter.  More recently, Steenburgen has also been an active supporter of the Oxford American magazine as well as South on Main restaurant and performance venue.

She has been an active supporter and a board member of the Arkansas Cinema Society.  During the 2018 FILMLAND she appeared in panel discussions on comedy and on her TV show “The Last Man on Earth.”

ANTIQUITIES plays Riverdale 10 Cinema January 25 to 31

One of the hits at the Arkansas Cinema Society’s August 2018 Filmland event was Arkansas made film Antiquities.

It has been picked up for distribution and will screen at the Riverdale 10 Cinema from January 25 to 31. Tickets can be purchased here.

After the first screening during Filmland sold out quickly, a second screening was added.  But there are many people who did not get to see it, or want to see it again.  Now is that chance!

After his father’s death, a young man – WALT (Andrew J. West) – moves to his dad’s hometown in order to learn more about who his father was. Walt decides to stay with his awkward aunt and her family, whose denial makes his search nearly impossible. He accepts a job in a local antique mall where his boss quickly offers him the possibility of a management position; however, a mean-spirited co-worker isn’t pleased by his new competition and proceeds to sabotage any chance Walt has. Walt then meets ELLIE (Ashley Greene), an eccentric and crude free spirit who still manages to be irresistibly charming. He finds himself completely enamored, though both are hesitant to pursue a relationship. Walt ends up not only finding out who his father really was, but learns more about himself than he ever thought possible.

The cast includes many Arkansas actors such as Mary Steenburgen, Graham Gordy, Jason Thompson, Alanna Hamill Newton, Jeff Bailey, Damon McKinnis, Joanne Riddick, the late Fran Austin, and a brief cameo by David Bazzel as well as Rett Tucker as a bingo caller.

Filmed in and around Arkansas, the movie was directed by Daniel Campbell from a screenplay by Campbell and Gordy.  Cinematography was by Gabe Mayhan.  The film was produced by Campbell, Gordy, David Jennis, Jayme Lemons, Gary Newton, Angela Prosser, and Kathryn Tucker.

Little Rock Look Back: The 2004 opening of the Clinton Presidential Center

wjc library openingIt has been fourteen years since the Clinton Presidential Center opened on a wet, cold Thursday.

The days leading up to it had been glorious.  And while the weather may have literally dampened spirits a bit, it was still an important day for Little Rock and Arkansas.

The events leading up to the opening included a concert by Aretha Franklin with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and an appearance by Senator John Glenn at the Museum of Discovery.  Events were hosted by the Arkansas Arts Center, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Historic Arkansas Museum, and Old State House Museum.  There were scores of receptions and parties as Hollywood, New York, and DC descended on Little Rock.

November 18 dawned rainy and cool.  As the day continued on the precipitation continued while the temperature did not warm up.  Years of planning for a grand opening ceremony came down to this.  But at the appointed time, festivities began.

On the site of an abandoned warehouse district and unofficial dump which had previously been a train station, many leaders of the free world were gathered.  They rubbed shoulders with thousands of Arkansans from probably every county in the state.

It had been seven years and eleven days since Bill Clinton had announced the site of his presidential library.  It had been five years since artifacts and articles started arriving from Washington DC in Little Rock.  There had been lawsuits, threats of lawsuits, the threat of a Counter-Clinton Library, and countless meetings.

After speeches from Presidents Carter, Bush 41 and Bush 43, remarks from President Clinton and then-Senator Clinton (who was made even wetter by water pouring off an ill-placed umbrella), and even a musical performance by Bono and The Edge, Chelsea Clinton turned over the ceremonial key from the Clinton Foundation to the National Archives to officially open the Clinton Presidential Center.

In his capacity leading the Clinton Foundation, Skip Rutherford oversaw the planning for the Clinton Library and the grand opening festivities.  He, along with the foundation’s Executive Director Stephanie S. Streett, oversaw a phalanx of volunteers and staff to anticipate every detail.  The 1,000 days countdown sign that had been on the construction site (the brainchild of Tyler Denton) finally reached 0.

Isabelle Rodriguez, Shannon Butler, Mariah Hatta, Jordan Johnson, Lucas Hargraves, Ben Beaumont, Denver Peacock — among others — had been putting in twelve plus hour days for months on end to get ready for the opening.  City Manager Bruce T. Moore led a team of City officials who had assisted on the planning and execution of the site preparation and making sure Little Rock was ready to welcome the world.  Moore and City Director Dean Kumpuris had been appointed by Little Rock Mayor Jim Dailey to lead Little Rock’s efforts to land the library.  After Clinton’s announcement of the site, Dailey, Kumpuris and Moore continued to work together to ensure the library would be successful.

Among those present were Oscar winning actors Barbara Streisand, Robin Williams, and (of course) Arkansan Mary Steenburgen.  Future Oscar winner Morgan Freeman was also in attendance. Among the Oscar nominees who were present were Bono and The Edge (who performed at the ceremony) and Alfre Woodard.  It was the first public appearance by Senator John Kerry after his loss earlier in the month to President George W. Bush. Scores of Senators and members of Congress as well as countless Clinton Administration staffers were also in attendance.

While the weather on November 18, 2004, may have been a disappointment, the people who were gathered knew they were witnesses to history.  And fourteen years later, is a day people still talk about.

 

 

Rock the Oscars: Mary Steenburgen

It is Oscar month, so it is fitting to highlight at Arkansas’ own Academy Award winning actress, Mary Steenburgen on her birthday.  She was born on February 8, 1953, in Newport, Arkansas.  After moving to North Little Rock as a schoolgirl, she had her first starring role as Emily in the 1971 Northeast High School production of Our Town, which was the new school’s first play.

Her big break in the movies came when Oscar winner Jack Nicholson picked her to star opposite of him in Goin’ South.  This was followed by Time after Time before she appeared in Melvin and Howard.  For that film, she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.  It also marked the first of three times she starred with Jason Robards (the other two being Parenthood and Philadelphia).  Over the years, her films have run the gamut from period piece (Ragtime, Cross Creek) to sophisticated comedy (Romantic Comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy) to fantasy (Back to the Future III) to holiday comedy (Elf).  She has been hard to pigeonhole into a specific “type” of actor because she has played so many different types of roles.

Her upcoming projects include Book Club with fellow Oscar winners Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton and Richard Dreyfuss, as well as Oscar nominees Candice Bergen and Andy Garcia; and also Antiquities — filmed in Arkansas and featuring many members of the growing Arkansas film community.

Throughout her career, Mary Steenburgen has been a champion of the arts in Central Arkansas.  In 1986, she starred in and was executive producer of End of the Line, filmed in Central Arkansas, directed and co-written by Arkansan Jay Russell, and also starring Kevin Bacon, Wilfred Brimley, Levon Helm, Barbara Barrie and Holly Hunter.  More recently, Steenburgen has also been an active supporter of the Oxford American magazine as well as South on Main restaurant and performance venue.

Rock the Oscars: Opening of the Clinton Presidential Center

Probably the largest gathering of Oscar winners and Oscar nominees in Little Rock’s history took place in November 2004.

Though some Oscar winners and nominees had been present for the Clinton election night parties in 1992 and 1996, the opening of the Clinton Presidential Center brought luminaries from Hollywood en masse.

Among those present were Oscar winning actors Barbara Streisand, Robin Williams, and (of course) Arkansan Mary Steenburgen.  Future Oscar winner Morgan Freeman was also in attendance. Among the Oscar nominees who were present were Bono and The Edge (who performed at the ceremony) and Alfre Woodard.

Senator John Glenn, who had been featured as a character in the Oscar winning film The Right Stuff was also present for the festivities.  Former Vice President Al Gore did not actually win an Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth (the documentary awards go to the director), but was closely identified with this Oscar winning documentary.

There were plenty of rumors about other Oscar winners and nominees in town, though they were not true.

 

Ron Robinson Theater showing The Tale of the Princess Kaguya this afternoon

RRT Tale PrincessThe Tale of the Princess Kaguya was nominated for Best Animated Feature earlier this year at the Oscars.

Found inside a shining stalk of bamboo by an old bamboo cutter and his wife, a tiny girl grows rapidly into an exquisite young lady. The mysterious young princess enthralls all who encounter her – but ultimately she must confront her fate, the punishment for her crime

An international cast of actors voice the characters in this film including James Caan, Darren Criss, Lucy Liu, Beau Bridges, Dean Cain, Oliver Platt, James Marsden and Oscar winner Mary Steenburgen.

It screens this afternoon at 2pm at the Ron Robinson Theater.  Admission is $5 with concessions available for purchase.

This is part of the Kid Flix series.