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Friday, September 18, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Water Cooler: ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ table read is back

Jennifer Aniston arrives at the fourth annual InStyle Awards on Oct. 22, 2018, in Los Angeles. Aniston is among the celebrities taking part in a virtual reading of the script for 1982’s “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” as an online fundraiser. (Invision)
Jennifer Aniston arrives at the fourth annual InStyle Awards on Oct. 22, 2018, in Los Angeles. Aniston is among the celebrities taking part in a virtual reading of the script for 1982’s “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” as an online fundraiser. (Invision)
By Rachel Baker The Spokesman-Review

After being postponed for technical difficulties, the long awaited and star-studded virtual table read of “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” is back on, premiering 6 p.m. Sept. 17.

The table read was originally planned to stream in late August as a fundraiser for CORE, a nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles and co-founded by Sean Penn, aimed at directing resources to communities that are vulnerable to crisis situations. The event also benefits the REFORM alliance.

Hosted by “Dane Cook Presents: Feelin’ A-Live,” the table read only features Penn as the only original cast member, but debuts an impressive cast of A-list stars to fill in the rest. The cast includes Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts, Matthew McConaughey, Shia LaBeouf, Morgan Freeman, Henry Golding, Jimmy Kimmel, John Legend, Ray Liotta and Dane Cook.

Audiences are dying to know who will play which roles but it has all been kept as a tightly locked secret. Only one thing is certain – Penn will not be reprising his role as the infamous Jeff Spicoli.

“Fast Times at Ridgemont High” was directed by Amy Heckerling and released in 1982. The original source material was a book written by Cameron Crowe in 1981, but he went on to write the screenplay adaptation as well. Crowe actually enrolled in high school again at the age of 22, pretending to be a senior student for a whole year in order to inform his writing and observe American teenagers in their natural habitat – the public education system. The book and subsequent film that came of that experience masterfully captured a year in the life of California high schoolers, exploring both its absurd comedy and relatable drama.

The 1982 film has gone on to earn cult status in part because of the nostalgia it offers due to being saturated with ’80s pop culture, but also because of the film’s authentic relatability. Its R rating defines it as a movie about kids but not exactly made for kids, allowing it to explore the high school experience without a sugar coating. It’s better known for all the goofy stoner humor delivered by Spicoli, but the film actually handles a lot of mature themes, specifically focusing on high schoolers navigating and discovering their sexuality in the context of immense social pressure.

The film featured early rolls for its stars Jennifer Jason Leigh and Penn, as well as Forest Whitaker, Judge Reinhold, Brian Backer, Phoebe Cates and Vincent Schiavelli. Veteran actor Ray Walston starred as Mr. Hand, the teacher everyone loves to hate as he ruthlessly seeks vengeance against a disruptive and lax Spicoli in nearly every class period.

The event will stream on CORE’s Facebook page and TikTok account, as well as via LiveXLive.

CORE is currently working to provide COVID-19 testing and relief services in the U.S., and REFORM Alliance has focused its efforts on criminal justice system reform, specifically at this time working to help prevent the spread of COVD-19 among the incarcerated population. To learn more about these organizations, visit coreresponse.org and reformalliance.com.

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