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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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: 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.

 

DRIVING MISS DAISY at CALS Ron Robinson Theater tonight

RRT driving-miss-daisy-posterThe Oscars are later this month, but tonight is a chance to see the winner of the 1989 Best Picture Oscar – DRIVING MISS DAISY. It will screen tonight at 7pm at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater.

Tickets are $5.  Concessions are available for purchase.

Based on the 1988 Pulitzer Prize winning play, Driving Miss Daisy tells the story of a textile factory owner who insists on hiring an ever-patient chauffeur for his aging head-strong mother. The Jewish woman and her African American driver eventually build a relationship over many years.

In addition to winning the Oscar for Best Picture, star Jessica Tandy won the Oscar for Best Actress.  Morgan Freeman and Dan Aykroyd each earned Oscar nominations for their performances.  Others in the cast include Patti LuPone and Esther Rolle.

Directed by Bruce Beresford (who surprisingly did not pick up a nomination for Best Director), the film was adapted by Alfred Uhry from his original stage play. Uhry won an Oscar for his writing. The film also earned a fourth Oscar for Best Makeup.  In addition to the nominations for Freeman and Aykroyd’s performances, it picked up nominations for Art Direction, Costumes, and Editing.

Tonight at CALS Ron Robinson Theater – the documentary THE HUNTING OF THE PRESIDENT

wjc10 huntTonight at 7pm, the  documentary THE HUNTING OF THE PRESIDENT will be shown at the Ron Robinson Theater. The screening is free.

Well-known director, producer and Arkansan Harry Thomason, and Nickolas Perry’s incendiary documentary, based on the best-selling book by Gene Lyons and Joe Conason, offers a glimpse at the genesis of these partisan vendettas and explores the myths and truths behind the nearly ten year campaign to systematically destroy the political legacy of the Clintons.

Using previously unreleased materials, interviews, and revelations from both sides of the beltway, this probing work focuses on the smear campaign against Clinton from his gubernatorial days in Arkansas leading up to and including his impeachment trial.

Less of an advocacy film and more of an  treatise on the political power of the media and personal interests, The Hunting of the President offers a gallery of defeated politicians, disappointed office seekers, right-wing pamphleteers, wealthy eccentrics, zany private detectives, religious fanatics and die-hard segregationists, all chiming in discord from the tops of their soapboxes

The film is narrated by Morgan Freeman.  Others making appearances include Jonathan Alter, Steve Barnes, Paul Begala, Richard Ben-Veniste, Robert S. Bennett, Sidney Blumenthal, Max Brantley, David Brock, Joe Cammerata, John Camp, James Carville, Larry Case, Paula Casey, Joe Conason, Andrew Cooper, Gil Davis, Ernie Dumas, Jerry Falwell, Mike Gauldin, Howard Kurtz, Gene Lyons, Susan McDougal, Don Moldea, Robert Parry, Claudia Riley, Jeffrey Toobin, Bill Watt and Betsy Wright.

 

Movies in the Park tonight: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

Movies in the Park continues tonight.  As the night gets dark, this week’s feature will be 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises.  This follow up to the 2008 film was again directed by Christopher Nolan from a screenplay he wrote with his brother Jonathan.

Christian Bale resumes the tip-eared mantle and is ably assisted by Michael Caine as butler/father confessor Alfred.

Other leading roles are played by Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Morgan Freeman and Matthew Modine. (This may possibly be the largest number of Oscar winners and nominees ever in a superhero film.)

Movies in the Park is a free outdoor movie series in Little Rock’s River Market. They take place at the First Security Amphitheatre. The mission of Movies in the Park is help foster a sense of community and enjoyment in downtown Little Rock and throughout Central Arkansas by bringing people together to enjoy a movie in a unique setting along the scenic banks of the Arkansas River.

Movies start at dark. Visitors are welcome to bring picnics but please no glass containers and pick up afterwards. Those choosing not to bring their own picnic, the park does have concessions available for sale.

Bring bug spray, picnic and family and have a good time!

The Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau Technical Services department provides all the equipment for the movies.