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‘Wicked’ run is 80 percent sold

About 80 percent of the tickets for the 16-performance run of “Wicked” at the INB Performing Arts Center have already been sold, as of Monday.

 There's no way to predict how long the 40,000-plus tickets will last — some performances are nearly gone. But indications are that it will sell out early. The national touring production plays Spokane May 18-29.

Individual ticket sales began on Saturday. Jack Lucas of WestCoast Entertainment and TicketsWest said that about 650 people bought tickets in person at the INB box office on Saturday morning and many more bought tickets by phone and online over the weekend. He called the turnout “just amazing.”

He also said that group sales have been about three times stronger than expected..

Buy tickets through TicketsWest here.

‘Wicked’ tix still available

About 300 people were in line early today (Saturday) for “Wicked” tickets, including some people who had been huddled since the wee hours. Then at 10 a.m., phone and online sales began.

Yet as of noon, a quick survey of 'Wicked” dates on Ticketswest showed that there were still plenty of good tickets left for many (but not all) performances. With 16 performances (May 18-29) and over 40,000 seats available, this show has a much larger inventory than, say, your average Elton John concert.

Make sure you go directly to the actual TicketsWest site, www.ticketswest.com. That's because if you do a simple search for “ticketswest” you'll actually dredge up some third-party ticket brokers that might charge you over the regular price. 

For instance, I just typed in “ticketswest” to google and the top entry was something called Got The Tix, which wanted to sell me one ticket for $418.

The true price range on Ticketswest is $37.50 to $142.50.

‘Thunderballs,’ filmed in Spokane

North by Northwest has just signed a contract to film, “Thunderballs, ” a sitcom pilot, for the cable TV channel Spike.

It’s about three 30-something guys on a beer league bowling team. As North by Northwest’s Rich Cowan points out, “Spokane should be a good city for that.”

The pilot will be filmed in May and if it gets picked up by Spike network, the entire series will be filmed here.

Will it have stars? Casting is still under discussion, but Cowan predicts it will have some “recognizable” names. It will probably use some local actors and extras as well.

North by Northwest, a Spokane production company, has filmed dozens of movies, but this will be the company's first foray into television.

Wicked fun in the ‘Wicked’ ticket line

If you're one of those people who will be standing in line (or camping) for “Wicked” tickets on Saturday at 7 a.m. at the INB Performing Arts Center, the people at WestCoast Entertainment say they will try to make it worth your while. Here's how:

  • The first 100 customers will receive a “Wicked” gift — some kind of souvenir, I presume.
  • Free coffee will be provided by Craven's Coffee.
  • Free donuts.
  • Everyone in line will be entered into a contest to win a pair of emerald earrings provided by Dodson's Jewelers.
  • KZZU (92.9) will be on hand with contests and prizes throughout the morning.
  • Northwest Photobooth will be providing free photos with a “Wicked” logo, of you and your friends, .

I should point out that this “fun” may be the only true reason for standing in line on Saturday. Tickets have already been available for months for subscribers and for groups. Also, an online pre-sale has been going on for almost a week for those who received the pre-sale code from TicketsWest. And finally, there should still be plenty of good tickets left even when “official” on-line and phone sales start on Saturday at 10 a.m.

Just to remind you about how this works: Tickets will be sold in person only at the INB box office from 7 a.m. until 10 a.m. Saturday. Then, at 10 a.m., all remaining tickets will go on sale through TicketsWest outlets (www.ticketswest.com, 800-325-SEAT). There's no way of predicting how fast tickets will get snapped up, but with a 16-show run, “Wicked” will probably not be an instant sellout, a la Elton John.

By the way, tickets will run you between $37.50 and $142.50, with the mid-level seats running about $77.50 or $82.50.

  

Why Hal Holbrook deserves a Kennedy Center Honor

I just finished writing a story about Hal Holbrook — it will appear in the paper March 10 in advance of his March 12 appearance here in “Mark Twain Tonight!” — when I realized something surprising. Holbrook has never received a Kennedy Center Honor or a National Arts Medal.

Few actors have, of course; these are very selective honors. Yet it seems to me that Holbrook has a particularly strong claim for consideration:

  • His Emmy-winning portrayal of Abe Lincoln in the 1974 TV series based on Carl Sandburg's biographies (one of three Emmy awards).
  • His portrayal of Deep Throat in “All the President's Men.”
  • His portrayal as the Stage Manager in the 1977 version of “Our Town”
  • His many other film roles, including his Oscar nominated performance at age 82 in Sean Penn's “Into the Wild.”
  • And finally, for his stage show, “Mark Twain Tonight!” which has brought the words of Mark Twain alive for more than 50 years.

I say he belongs in the same company as other Kennedy Center recipients, such as Jack Lemmon, Charlton Heston and Robert Redford, and other National Arts Medal winners, such as Robert Duvall and Angela Lansbury.

Let's mount a Hal Holbrook appreciation campaign. Is anyone with me on this?

Save the MAC with a beer and a doughnut

A bunch of Browne’s Addition restaurants and shops have initiated MAC Madness, in which you get a discount for writing a letter to your local legislator urging support for the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC), which is facing the possibility of closure due to state funding cuts.

 So the following places are partnering with the Save the MAC people to encourage a letter writing campaign for the month of March. Here are the deals you get:

The Elk, 1931 W. Pacific Ave.: $1 off drinks throughout the week when you write a letter (beginning March 6) Also, Sundays from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., informal letter writing party.

 Italia Trattoria, 144 S. Cannon St.: Saturday and Sunday brunch, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., write a letter while you dine and they will treat you to an Italian doughnut with your a purchase of an entree.

The Avenue, 2001 W. Pacific Ave.: All day Wednesdays,  $1 off drinks with a letter; MAC Special is any two topping medium pizza for $10 (regularly $14) with a letter.

Tully's, 2001 W. Pacific Ave.: Seven days a week, receive 10 percent off any barista beverage that is accompanied by a letter. Browne's Addition location only.

Also, the Roberts Mansion, 1923 W. First Ave., is offering free tours on Friday, March 4, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. (First Friday) if you write a letter to your legislator.

Letter templates, by the way, will be provided.

Free books at Big Read kickoff

The kick-off event for Spokane's Big Read will take place at the Spokane City Hall Chambers on Friday (March 4) from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. — and organizers will be handing out free copies of “The Things They Carried” by Tim O'Brien.

This won't be the only place to get a free copy of this book. Book Crossing is doing a “read and release” program in ensuing weeks, in which copies of the book will be left around town for people to pick up and read. 

The idea is to get as many people as possible to read this epic novel about the Vietnam War and its consequences. More than a month of events will culminate in O'Brien's appearance at Get Lit! on April 16.

Friday's kickoff event will also include readings by a number of veterans: Gary Duvall, David Baird, Suzanne Williams and others.

At the same time, you should check out the opening reception of the related art exhibit at the Chase Gallery, titled  “Telling the American Story: History, Memory, Place, Story, Picture, Space.” The gallery is also at City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

Both the Big Read kickoff and the gallery opening are free.

(Photo courtesy of Get Lit!)

A tribute to Arnie Carruthers

One of our true regional jazz giants – pianist Arnie Carruthers – will get the recognition he deserves later this month at the Spokane Falls Community College Jazz Festival.

The festival will be a tribute to Carruthers, who was an institution at the Davenport Hotel in Spokane, the Olympic Hotel in Seattle and the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles for many years. Then, when a stroke robbed him of the use of his left hand in 1974, he turned himself into a one-handed piano institution.

The Spokane Jazz Orchestra and SFCC Jazz Festival All-Stars will perform.

The festival will be March 19, 7 p.m. at the SFCC Music/Performing Arts Building No. 15, 3410 Ft. George Wright Drive. Tickets are $15, general admission, $10 for SFCC students and staff, available hrough TicketsWest.

‘Biggest Loser’ appearance at Spokane Club

Ali Vincent, who won “The Biggest Loser,” will be delivering her inspirational story at the Spokane Club on March 10, 6 p.m.

She lost 122 pounds to become the first female winner of “The Biggest Loser.” She'll talk about the power of setting goals — and maybe a little bit about  healthy, balanced eating.

Tickets to this event are $25, available by calling the Spokane Club at (509) 838-8511. Seating is limited.

Keillor reads a local poet

Local poet Jonathan Potter had a national airing today. Garrison Keillor read Potter's poem “You and I” on “The Writer's Almanac” on NPR this morning.

A few weeks ago, Potter sent Keillor his poetry volume, “House of Words,” published by Korrektiv Press, expecting … well, not much. What he got instead was a call asking permission to read a poem on the air,

Potter pronounced himself “giddy with gratitude, grateful with gidditude, and feeling slightly above average.” You can read what else Potter says about it here.

The Old 97s coming to the Bing

The Old 97s, one of my favorite alt-country bands, have been been booked into the Bing Crosby Theater on May 31.

They’re known for their hit “Murder (or a Heart Attack)” in 1999. They have just released a new album, “The Grand Theater, Volume One.”

They’ll be fresh off an appearance at the Sasquatch Festival the weekend before.

Tickets are $23 in advance, $25 the day of the show, on sale Monday at 10 a.m. through TicketsWest outlets (800-325-SEAT, www.ticketswest.com)  

From the White House to The Fox

Acclaimed pianist Awadagin Pratt will appear as guest soloist with the Gonzaga Symphony Orchestra in a concert Monday (Feb. 28) at the Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox.

Pratt has performed on such television programs as the “Today Show,” “Good Morning America” and “Sesame Street,” and performed at the White House for President Obama in 2009. He also twice appeared at the White House for President Clinton.

Pratt, an associate professor of piano and Artist in Residence at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, will be featured in Johannes Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor.

He won the Naumburg International Piano Competition in 1992, and two years later was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant. In 1995, he was named one of Ebony magazine’s “50 Leaders of Tomorrow.”

Monday’s program also includes Glinka’s Overture to “Russlan and Ludmilla,” Wagner’s Prelude to “Die Meistersinger” and Smetana’s Three Dances from “The Bartered Bride.”

The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. at The Fox, 1001 W. Sprague Ave. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students and seniors, through the Fox box office (509-624-1200) or TicketsWest outlets (800-325-SEAT, www.ticketswest.com)

Bad news for Good Charlotte fans

The Good Charlotte concert on March 23 at the Knitting Factory Concert House in Spokane has been cancelled.

The official reason: “an unforeseen scheduling conflict.”

OK, fine — even though, their Seattle show on March 22 has not been cancelled, nor has their March 25 show in San Francisco.

Tickets bought through Ticketfly online or by phone will be refunded automatically.

Julia Sweeney Day, by proclamation

Mayor Mary Verner has declared March 11  as Julia Sweeney Day in Spokane.

Why? Because that’s the day that she’ll be at the Bing Crosby Theater performing her “Jill & Julia Show” with Jill Sobule.

The mayor’s proclamation mentions Sweeney’s “poignant, comedic and entertaining takes on everyday life” and her support of local causes, including the Inland Northwest Cancer Society, The Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox, Spokane Public Radio and KSPS-7. Sweeney is a former “Saturday Night Live” cast member from Spokane.

Tickets to the show are $27, available through TicketsWest outlets (800-325-SEAT, www.ticketswest.com)

Spokane’s new 50 Hour Slam film contest

A new instant-film competition has been announced in Spokane: The 50 Hour Slam.

It’s a bit like the popular 48 Hour Film Festival, except … well, you’ll have two extra hours to complete your three-to-six minute film.

Actually, there are plenty of other differences. This contest will have a TV component – the entries will air on CMTV (Community Minded TV, channel 14) for a month. It will also have a considerable web component, with entries available for viewing in a four-month long “viral” contest, with online voting.

Also, CMTV will host a workshop a few weeks prior to the events, covering the technical aspects of filmmaking.

The organizers include: FAVES (Film and Video Enthusiasts of Spokane), Purple Crayon Pictures, CMTV, The Magic Lantern, CORPX and Isabella’s Restaurant. Juan A. Mas, known for his extensive work on many North by Northwest productions, is one of the event’s guiding forces.

Here are the key dates:

Tuesday, 7 p.m. at the Magic Lantern, 25 W. Main – A general meeting outlining the rules. Not mandatory, but highly recommended.

April 1, 7 p.m. at the Magic Lantern – Kick-off event in which the festival criteria are announced and the competition begins.

April 3, 9 p.m., at the Magic Lantern lobby – End of the 50 hours.

May 1, various times, Magic Lantern – Movie screenings and awards party.

Continue reading to see the complete news release: 

Rick Moody on the way to Gonzaga

Gonzaga University’s Visiting Writers Series hosts its biggest name of the year on Wednesday (March 2): Rick Moody.

Moody is the author of the novels “Garden State,” “Purple America,” “The Diviners” and most recently, “The Four Fingers of Death.”

He is perhaps best known for his 1994 novel, “The Ice Storm,” which was made into an acclaimed 1997 film with Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Sigourney Weaver and Tobey Maguire, directed by Ang Lee. It’s about a tumultuous family gathering in Connecticut.

The Village Voice has described him as the “self-styled avenging angel of highbrow literary cool.” NPR described “The Four Fingers of Death” as “dense, provocative and often hilarious.”

His readings are events in themselves. He’ll be doing a question-answer session at 1:10 p.m. at GU’s Wolff Auditorium and the reading at 7:30 p.m. in the Cataldo Globe Room, both on Wednesday. Both events are free.

“Nunsense” already sold out

The news came out even before the first wimple-wearing nun hit the stage: The entire run of “Nunsense” at the Spokane Civic was sold out.

Theater head Yvonne A.K. Johnson delivered the announcement before the opening curtain of the opening performance. This continues a remarkable run for the Civic, which also sold out “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” at its Studio Theatre this month. The Civic has already sold out many other runs this season, including “Buddy” and “White Christmas.”

But what about the show itself? Did “Nunsense” live up to expectations? 

Is the Reverend Mother Catholic?

Look for my full review in Sunday's Spokesman-Review.

An “Idol” name in “9 to 5” cast

The cast of the touring show “9 to 5: The Musical,” which hits Spokane on March 24-27, won’t feature the same household names as the 1980 movie – but it will have a few significant Broadway names and an “American Idol”:

Diana DeGarmo – A runner-up on the third season of “American Idol” and a veteran of Broadway’s “Hair” and “Hairspray.” She’ll play Doralee (the Dolly Parton movie role).

DeeHoty – A three-time Tony nominee and star of Broadway shows “Mamma Mia!” and “Footloose,” among others. She plays Violet (the Lily Tomlin role).

Mamie Parris – A veteran of Broadway’s “Ragtime” and “The Drowsy Chaperone.” She plays Judy (the Jane Fonda role).

Joseph Mahowald – He played the title role in Broadway’s “Jekyll & Hyde” and Javert in “Les Miserables.” Mahowald has appeared frequently on many TV soap operas including “Another World,” “Guiding Light” and “All My Children.” He plays Franklin, the Dabney Coleman role.

Tickets for the INB Performing Arts Center performances are available through TicketsWest outlets (800-325-SEAT, www.ticketswest.com).

The Golden SpIFFY Awards

Congratulations to the winners of the 2011 Spokane International Film Festival (SpIFF) top awards, which they call the Golden SpIFFys:

Best Feature Film: “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil,” director Eli Craig.

Best Documentary: “An Ecology of Mind,” director Nora Bateson.

Best Short Film: “The Fall Line,” director Tyler Stableford.

Best Animation: “The Lost Thing,” director Shaun Tan, Andrew Ruhemann.

Best of the Northwest: “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil,” director Eli Craig.

Audience Award, Feature: “The Waste Land,” directors Lucy Walker, Karen Harley, Joao Jardim.

Audience Award, Short: “The Big Sayonara,” Don Hamilton.

Most Promising Filmmaker: Adam Harum, “Disintegration” and Sara McIntyre, “Two Indians Talking.”

A Conor Oberst-Bright Eyes date

Bright Eyes, the band fronted by Conor Oberst, has been booked into the Knitting Factory Concert House in Spokane on May 31.

Special guests will be Jenny & Johnny, featuring Jenny Lewis, the former Rilo Kiley vocalist.

We probably have the Sasquatch Music Festival to thank for this booking. Both of these acts are appearing at Sasquatch at The Gorge on May 28, so they'll already be traveling through the region.

Tickets are $25, now on sale through Ticketfly or through the Knitting Factory's website.

A ‘Wicked’ ticket warning

The tickets to the Spokane engagement of “Wicked” goes on sale March 5, and the people at WestCoast Entertainment want to warn people about the perils of third-party tickets.

Ticket agencies and brokers will probably snap up a number of tickets right away. So then, when people search for tickets online, they will often be shunted to those third-party sites. The problem: These brokers often sell the tickets way above face value.

A number of people were burned by this problem during the run of the Spokane Symphony's “Nutcracker” in December. Some people bought tickets that were twice as expensive as they should have been — for not very good seats. Other people bought tickets that were completely bogus.The Symphony was able to get those people into the ballet anyway, but only because the show wasn't sold out.

So the WestCoast Entertainment people want to remind people that the only legitimate source for tickets are: TicketsWest outlets, and the WestCoast Entertainment Best of Broadway website.

Also, tickets go on sale first, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on March 5, in person at the INB Performing Arts Center box office. At 10 a.m., on the same day tickets go onsale online and by phone through TicketsWest.

At that point, beware of any other site, even one that has made itself to look like a site for the INB or the show itself. Stick with TicketsWest.

Elton John sold out

Tickets to the Elton John concert at the Spokane Arena on April 8 are sold out.

It took only three days for all 11,000 tickets to vanish, according to Becca Watters at the Spokane Arena. Tickets went on sale Saturday and only a few single tickets were left by Sunday evening. Those sold out by Monday night. Even the tickets behind the stage sold out.

Will another show be added? That's what happened in 2008 when Elton's Pullman show sold out quickly.

No word on that, yet, but don't get your hopes up. His tour schedule is tight. He's playing a date on April 9 in Boise. But the tour  does have an open date on April 7, following an April 6 date in Bismarck. So there's at least a theoretical window of opportunity.

A CDA Oscar nominee

Michael Owens, who now lives in Coeur d'Alene, is an Oscar nominee for Best Achievement in Visual Effects for his work on the movie “Hereafter.”

Owens is the real deal: He was a longtime visual effects supervisor for George Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic. He got his start as a camera assistant on “ET: The Extra-Terrestrial” and as a visual effects cameraman on films such as “Star Wars VI, Return of the Jedi” and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.”

Then he went on to be visual effects supervisor on dozens of big movies, including “The Witches of Eastwick,” “The Doors,” “Van Helsing,” “Meet Joe Black,” “Gangs of New York,” “Flags of Our Fathers,” “Letters from Iwo Jima,” “Gran Torino,” and “Invictus.”

“Hereafter” is the Matt Damon movie directed Clint Eastwood, a director Owens evidently has a certain affinity with, since he has worked with Eastwood so many times.

Owens shares the nomination with others on the “Hereafter” special effects team, Bryan Gill, Stephen Trojansky and Joe Farrell.

Owens likes to keep a low profile in CDA. He declined our request for an interview, which I find, in a way, refreshing. He's apparently a Hollywood type who is not an attention-hog.

But I wanted to let people in CDA, Spokane and vicinity know that we can root for a local name on Oscar night, Feb. 27.

A Foo-Cab-Wilco-Lips Sasquatch

Here's who's on the way to the Sasquatch! Music Festival, May 27-30 at the Gorge Amphitheatre:

Foo Fighters, Death Cab For Cutie, Modest Mouse , Wilco, The Flaming Lips (performing The Soft Bulletin & more), The Decemberists, Bright Eyes, Iron & Wine, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Bassnectar, Robyn, Flogging Molly, Death From Above 1979, Pink Martini, Cold War Kids, Old 97’s, Ratatat, Wolf Parade, Chromeo and  Guided By Voices.

There are plenty more acts, which you can see by clicking “contininue reading” below.

Meanwhile, you can buy festival passes here.  

Is Sir Elton Spokane’s mystery concert?

Looks like Spokane's mystery concert (see earlier post) may be Elton John.

The official announcement won't be until Friday morning. But I have been hearing credible reports that Sir Elton is on the way back to the Spokane Arena.

Check in tomorrow morning to see if this turns out to be correct.

‘Grizzly Adams’ creator dies

Charles E. Sellier Jr., 67, the producer and creator of “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams” and dozens of other TV shows and films, died Monday at his home in North Idaho.

“Chuck” Sellier had a lengthy  TV-film resume including such popular films as “In Search of Noah's Ark,” “Chariots of the Gods,” “In Search of the Historic Jesus” and “The Bermuda Triangle.” All of those are listed among the top 50-grossing independent films. Recently, he and his  locally based production company, Grizzly Adams Productions, had produced dozens of religious-oriented films and TV shows, including “Ancient Secrets of the Bible” for CBS and “Miraculous Messages” and “The Case for Christ's Resurrection.”

He was nominated for an Emmy for his work on the children's show, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” in 1980. He was also the author of a number of books based on his films and TV specials.

The family requests that Sellier be remembered through donations to his passion, the ABC Foodbank, which serves Athol, Bayview and Careywood, Idaho.

“A River Sorrow” trailer


The people at Spokane’s film production company, North by Northwest, are particularly high on their new thriller “The River Sorrow.” It was filmed this fall in Spokane with Ray Liotta, Christian Slater, Ving Rhames and Gisele Fraga.

NXNW’s own Rich Cowan was the director.  It has already been picked up by Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions — which already catapults it beyond the average Spokane-filmd movie — and Cowan plans on taking it to the Cannes Film Festival this spring.

Now, the trailer for “The River Sorrow” is out and, yes, it certainly does make the movie look stylish, moody, chilling and decidely R-rated. It’s about a string of sexual murders with one common thread – all of the victims are former girlfriends of the detective played by Liotta.

You'll also catch glimpses of several Spokane locations, including Riverfront Park and the Agave Latin Bistro downtown.

See the trailer for yourself here and let us know what you think of “The River Sorrow.”

A David Mamet coup in Spokane

Spokane’s Interplayers Professional Theatre has scored a significant coup: It will stage one of the first productions anywhere of David Mamet’s “Race” since it closed on Broadway in August.

This controversial play, about a white businessman accused of raping a black woman, will run March 31 through April 16, replacing the musical “Cotton Patch Gospel” on the Interplayers calendar. “Cotton Patch Gospel” will return on next season’s list.

The only other production opened Jan. 21 at the Philadelphia Theatre Company. The last time a Spokane theater landed such a new Broadway play would be – well, never, as far as I can recall.

How did Interplayers pull this off? Read on …

‘Opus’ review

As you may have noticed from the review in Sunday's print edition (Jan. 23) , I loved “Opus” at Interplayers. I thought it was a fascinating and well-acted look at the art of creating music.

Actually, I liked it even more than the print review indicated. A large section of the review was lopped off for space, including a discussion of the acting ensemble. They all deserve attention, so I am posting the full uncut review below, with apologies to the actors who were nowhere to be seen in the print review. Click on “continue reading” below to see the full review.