Monday, April 30, 2007

Oxford American's "Southern Film" Issue

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2007 at 4:00 AM

The Oxford American, now in at least its third incarnation, continues to turn out impressive work. The latest, an issue devoted to Southern Film, (with an accompanying DVD) may be their best yet.

Here's the lineup: Jack Pendarvis on Baby Doll, the smuttiest story every told; Tom Carson on Paul Newman and Hollywood’s fascination with the South; Cintra Wilson on Lindsay Lohan’s connection to Tennessee Williams; Phillip Lopate on the cinematic vision of director John Ford; Raymond Haberski on the America's most dangerous movie critic; Donna Bowman on the influence of Christian cinema; Jack Pendarvis (again!) on the slippery actor Dick Powell ...

Plus ... (phew): Dennis Lim interviews the cinematic poet Charles Burnett; Les Blank talks about getting fired from the set of Easy Rider; Gerald Early on race, sex, the South, and exploitative cinema; Roy Blount Jr. praises the great Madea; Hal Crowther pays tribute to Robert Altman; Scott Von Doviak revisits 10 Hall-of-Fame performances you probably missed because they here in "hick flicks"; Ray McKinnon discusses the wily craft of acting; William Caverlee remembers the thrill of Bonnie and Clyde; Francine Prose highlights Bette Davis in Jezebel; Joseph McBride wonders who is John Huston; and 13 More Essential Southern Documentaries.

DVD Tracks include:

1. from Dorothea Lange: A Visual Life

2. from Born for Hard Luck

3. from Bright Leaves

4. from Claire (dir. Milford Thomas)

5. from Come Early Morning

6. from The Intruder

7. from Cabin Field

8. from The Puffy Chair

9. My Old Fiddle

10. Krazy Kat Goes A-Wooing

11. Synchromy No. 4: Escape

12. from Marsaw

13. from The Accountant

14. The Devils-Helper

15. from Black Snake Moan

16. from Bigfootville

For more info go to the OA's website.

Hyatt Hotel to Anchor the One Beale Project

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Carlisle Corporation announced in a press conference Monday morning that it had signed a management agreement with Global Hyatt Corporation to manage a 240-room Hyatt Regency Memphis Hotel and Spa at One Beale. The hotel will be located at the base of One Beale, the $175 million mixed-use tower slated to open in downtown Memphis in 2010.

"Global Hyatt will add a sophisticated level of service to residents and guests of this landmark project," said Gene Carlisle, president of Carlisle Corporation. "We are proud to join with Hyatt and look forward to bringing this upscale product to the downtown market."

Shelby County's Wet Wilderness

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2007 at 4:00 AM

"Morning light slants through bald cypress trees as the howls and screeches of wild animals echo through the air. Mist curls from the surface of the swamp. I dip my paddle into the water as my partner and I maneuver our canoe around another cypress knee.

"No, this isn't a movie set, and it's not some exotic distant land. It's Eagle Lake, just eight miles from the Pyramid as the bald eagle flies. Part of Meeman-Shelby State Park, the lake is a window into Memphis' past, showing what the river bottoms looked like before they were drained and converted to farmland."

"This free, guided canoe trip is a family-friendly, non-strenuous way to get out and enjoy some of the last remnants of wilderness left in the Memphis area. ..."

Learn more one of about Shelby County's few remaining wild places in Christina Callicott's Flyer cover story.

Be a Frynd

Posted on Mon, Apr 30, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Now this could be interesting. Lynyrd Skynyrd and Hank Williams Jr. are holding a "Rowdy Frynd" contest to promote their current Rowdy Frynds tour.

Participants are asked to submit a video that shows the depth of their fanhood for the performers.

From a press release: "'We are looking for singing, dancing, partying, pre-show tailgating skills, or after-show rituals,' says Vector Management’s Ross Schilling. 'However you decide to capture your prize-winning adoration on tape is fine with us!'”

Winners will receive a prize package and one will named the ultimate Rowdy Frynd.

Williams made news in Memphis last year for being rowdy and not very friendly after he was arrested for allegedly assaulting a waitress at the Peabody. Charges were later dropped.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Gest Wearing Out His Welcome in the UK?

Posted By on Sun, Apr 29, 2007 at 4:00 AM

"How many times can a guy say 'Holy focaccia' before it ceases to be funny? Once."

Oops. The early reviews are in on former Memphian David Gest's new British TV show. And, like Gest himself, they aren't pretty.

From The London Mirror: "Plumbing new depths of pointlessness, ITV's Sadly, This Is David Gest swiftly established itself as the worst programme of the year. OK, I made up the 'Sadly' bit.

"Minutes into the first instalment of our hero's staged fly-on-the-wall-to-wall-boredom series, the message was clear: Come in Mr Gest... your time is up! Setting up home at London's Grosvenor Hotel, David was 'determined to cash in on his UK fame while he's still hot property'.

"In another wild over-estimation of his popularity, the I'm A Celebrity weirdo declared: 'Why not stay where you're loved?' Where would that be?"

Well, we here in say that would be Memphis, of course! Come on, DG, you know you miss those Gus' Fried Chicken lunches.

And if you must, you can read the whole bitchy review here.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Justin Timberlake Bringing Waxy Back

Posted By on Sat, Apr 28, 2007 at 4:00 AM

From the "We couldn't make this up," department comes word from English website daventrytoday that Justin Timberlake is getting waxed. To wit: Justin Timberlake shows he has Justified a Madame Tussauds waxwork model after proving a hit with female fans.

Experts spent four months making the life-size impression of the 26-year-old US singer.

He stands near a waxwork of his ex, Britney Spears, but as yet there are no plans to create a model of his other former love Cameron Diaz.

Madame Tussauds commissioned a Savile Row tailor to create a bespoke white suit for the star's waxwork at the London attraction.

Timberlake also features "old-school trainers" and designer stubble.

Timberlake, who began his UK tour last week, already has a waxwork from his 'N Sync boyband days in Madame Tussauds in the US.

A Madame Tussauds spokesman said: "Justin has been involved in the waxwork, selecting the images and the look that he wanted.

"He's one of those personalities that the public have been saying they would love to get up close and personal with for a long time."

Get Your Rocks Off in Memphis Sunday

Posted By on Sat, Apr 28, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Ever have a pet rock as a kid? It was probably some lame-ass gravel rock — brown, oddly shaped with dirt stuck in its crevices. Well, now you're all grown up, so it's time to upgrade. At the Mineral, Fossil, and Jewelry show at the Fairgrounds Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., there are plenty of nice rocks — the smooth, polished kind. Or if you favor sparkly gems or quartz crystals, there'll be plenty of those at the annual expo as well. Three bucks at the door. Call 276-3532 for more info, go to

Friday, April 27, 2007

Vintage Designer Sale Friday and Saturday

Posted on Fri, Apr 27, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Dress for Success provides business wear and accessories to disadvantaged women to help them in their careers, but on Friday and Saturday, they'll be broadening their stylish outreach.

Today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Dress for Success is holding a "Vogue and Vintage Sale," selling suits and separates from such designers as Gucci, Donna Karan, Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Oleg Cassini, and more.

The sale is being held at the Idlewild Presbyterian Church at 1750 Union.

Calling All Hipsters-in-Training

Posted on Fri, Apr 27, 2007 at 4:00 AM

On Saturday, Memphis Rock-n-Romp, an afternoon rock-and-roll show for kiddies and their parents — is opening its new season.

The shows, held in different backyards in Midtown, are a way of introducing kids to music of a non-juvenile variety, i.e. music parents can bear. The music is kept at an ear-friendly volume, and kids will be provided with a snack, while parents can enjoy a beer.

Saturday's show, from 2 to 5 p.m. will feature music from DJ Colin Butler, the River City Tanlines, and the Vending Machine. Admission is $5.

Other show dates are June 9th, July 21st, September 8th, and October 27th.

For more information on location and on receiving an invitation, go to the Memphis Rock n Romp Web site. And check out the Flyer story on the organization.

Benefit for Musician Mickey Gregory on Sunday

Posted By on Fri, Apr 27, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Mickey Gregory lent his trumpet-playing talents to many of Isaac Hayes’ Stax recordings and to numerous other bands and recordings through the years. Now, after a recent surgery, Gregory’s friends have gotten together to lend the recovering horn-blower a hand.

Precious Cargo coffee house, at 381 North Main downtown near The Pyramid, is hosting a benefit for Gregory Sunday at 6p.m. that will feature local jazz musicians Sidney Kirk and Emerson Able.

For more information call 578-8446.

Local Cartoonist Up for Eisner Award

Posted on Fri, Apr 27, 2007 at 4:00 AM

And the Nominee Is ...

Joel Priddy, cartoonist and instructor at the Memphis College of Art. And the winner is ...

We won't know until July 27th. That's when the winners of this year's Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the most prestigious in the business, are announced. But until then, see what prompted the Eisner judges to nominate Priddy in the "Best Single Issue" category: The Preposterous Voyages of IronHide Tom (AdHouse).

Win or lose, good to see Priddy gaining more national recognition. Late last year, Harvey Pekar picked Priddy to be included in The Best American Comics 2006 (Houghton Mifflin).

Johnny Taylor Opening Reception Tonight at Jay Etkin

Posted on Fri, Apr 27, 2007 at 4:00 AM

If you haven't seen the works of local artist Johnny Taylor, you've been missing out. Not to worry — you can right the situation tonight from 6 to 9 p.m. when his newest collection, "27" opens at Jay Etkin Gallery. Taylor's colorful works draw influence from pop art, graffiti, and music, though "27" includes what Taylor describes as his "softer side." Drop by Etkin's place for a look — a perfect first stop on the south Main Trolley tour, or a perfect last stop, should you (wisely) choose to give one of the 27 pieces a new home. DJ Buck Wilders will be on-hand spinning vinyl. Reception from 6 to 9. Jay Etkin Gallery, 409 South Main, 543-0035.

John Ford Guilty on Bribery Charge

Posted By and on Fri, Apr 27, 2007 at 4:00 AM

John Ford became the latest casualty of the FBI's Tennessee Waltz sting Friday when a jury returned a guilty verdict for bribery, one of five counts the former state senator was charged with.

That was Count Two of the indictment against Ford. The jury could not agree on Count One, a charge of extortion, and presiding Judge Daniel Breen declared a mistrial on that count.

Three other counts, relating to charges of witness intimidation alleged against Ford, resulted in Not Guilty findings.

Sentencing of Ford was set for Tuesday, July 31, at 9 a.m. -- a point in time distant enough to allow for an appeal of the verdict by Ford, as well as possible negotiations between himself and the U,.S. Attorney's office that might involve an offer of cooperation in future prosecutions.

The jury's deadlock on the Count One extortion charge would seem to mean that defense attorney Mike Scholl gained some traction in his efforts to demonstrate undue inducements on Ford by FBI agents. The senator ultimately was persuaded to accept some $55,000 for legislative aid given the bogus E-Cycle computer firm.

There apparently was no such disagreement on Count Two, alleging bribery. That charge was backed up by countless FBI surveillance videos showing Ford, then an influential state senator, accepting sums of money in 2004 and 2005.

The three intimidation counts were always regarded as the weakest points of the indictment, and, though surveillance evidence was presented in court to substantiate that Ford had issued threats against agent "L.C. McNiel" and undercover informant Tim Willis, it was not corroborated in depth and was clearly subject to alternate interpretations.

How the verdict came

News of a pending verdict was circulated at about 3 p.m., Friday, the third full day of deliberations. The 11th-floor courtroom of Judge Breen was quickly filled up by members of the media, friends and family of ex-Senator Ford, and representatives of the U.S. Attorney's office and the F.B.I.

A message from the jury,shared with the prosecution and the defense by Judge Breen, quickly established that all counts had been resolved except for one. Sensing victory, chief prosecutor Tim DiScenza moved for acceptance of the available counts and for a declaration of mistrial on the unresolved one. Defense attorney Scholl asked for time to consult with his client.

In the end, DiScenza's preference would be honored by Judge Breen after the judge had called the jury in and heard from its foreman that no agreement was possible on Count One.

Two circumstances had prefigured the outcome. One was a question had come to Judge Breen late on the evening before asking in effect for a definition of a phrase in the indictment relating to official culpability.

The other indication that a verdict of some sort was imminent came when jurors opted not to go out for lunch on Friday but had food delivered, which they ate quickly before resuming afternoon deliberations.

Ford 'Disappointed'

Although the accusaed senator had enjoyed a leisurely lunch with members of his immediate and extended family at a downtown grill, his attitude was clearly one of somber apprehension, as was theirs. This was in stark contrast to an air of relaxation, even jauntiness, they had all exhibited during break periods on Wednesday and Thursday.

During that lunch, Ford took time out to insist that he had been the victim of entrapment and to express a wish that more time and attention had been devoted to that subject during the trial.

In a brief statement to members of the media after exiting the Federal Building, former Senator Ford, who remains free on bond, expressed disappointment with the verdict.

Although well-wishers for Ford and family members attended the trial throughout, a striking feature of the former senator's trial was that it attracted less out-of-town media contingents and fewer demonstrators than had a previous one for Ford's former state Senate colleague, Roscoe Dixon.

Dixon was convicted of bribery and extortion charges last year and is now serving a term in federal prison. Another local figure,former Shelby County Commissioner Michael Hooks Sr., pleaded guilty to similar charges and has yet to begin his term.

Tennessee Waltz indictees yet to be tried include former state Senator Kathryn Bowers and fortmer Memphis school board member Michael Hooks Jr.

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U..S. Attorney Expresses Satisfaction with Ford Verdict

Posted By on Fri, Apr 27, 2007 at 4:00 AM

United States Attorney David Kustoff said the government got what it wanted in the John Ford trial.

"The bottom line is, as of today John Ford is a convicted felon," said Kustoff at a news conference in the federal building.

Jurors found Ford guilty of bribery, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The former senator was found not guilty on three counts of threatening undercover FBI agent L. C. McNiel and undercover informant Tim Willis, but Kustoff shrugged off a suggestion that the jury found them to not be credible witnesses.

"The jury found enough credibility in what we put on to convict Mr. Ford," said Kustoff.

Kustoff said the government has not decided whether to retry Ford on the first count of the five-count indictment. The extortion count on which jurors deadlocked carries the most severe punishment, a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

Assistant U.S. attorneys Tim DiScenza and Lorraine Craig, who prosecuted the case did not answer questions. Kustoff said all Tennessee Waltz cases are equally important because they send the same message the public corruption will not be tolerated.

Defense attorney Michael Scholl said "we are going to keep fighting" and that Ford would appeal. Acceptance of guilt, or lack thereof, has made a big difference in the sentences handed out to previously convicted Tennessee Waltz defendants Roscoe Dixon and Michael Hooks.

Ford did not speak with reporters after the verdict was announced. Ford is under a separate federal indictment in Nashville. Kustoff said it would be up to prosecutors in Nashville to decide what to do about that case.

Following is a formal statement from U.S. Attorney Kustoff:

Almost two years ago, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Tennessee announced indictments against state and local government officials whom were alleged to have violated the duties and responsibilities entrusted to them by the public. The investigation into public corruption in the Tennessee Legislature and local governments, now known as Tennessee Waltz, culminated with the indictments of a number of public officials, including then Tennessee State Senator John Ford. When my predecessor as U.S. Attorney, Terry Harris, announced these indictments and disclosed the alleged public corruption, he told the public that they have a right to know that their government is not for sale.

Without a doubt, people have a right to expect that public representatives in their official capacity act truthfully, openly and overtly--all in the best interests of the people whom they serve. People want to be able to trust their government to do the right things for the right reasons. Quite simply, the public wants and should expect honest government.

We are pleased with the jury's verdict in the United States v. John Ford. Over the course of the past two and a half weeks, the jury has listened carefully and considerately to all of the proof presented at trial, including the testimony of the witnesses as well as the video and audio recordings. There were over 200 exhibits introduced in this trial. The jury found unanimously, beyond a reasonable doubt, as to count 2 that John Ford violated the essential and fundamental public trust that had been bestowed to him by the people of the State of Tennessee. We respect the jury's verdict in all respects.

The bottom line of Operation Tennessee Waltz is simple--Law enforcement in West Tennessee will aggressively pursue government officials who violate the public trust. The majority of public officials are honest folks who act in the best interests of the people. Hopefully, public corruption investigations like Tennessee Waltz and Main Street Sweeper will demonstrate to those other public officials that law enforcement will aggressively pursue and investigate those who breach the public trust.

There are a number of individuals who have worked very hard on this matter that I want to recognize. I want to commend Assistant United States Attorneys Tim DiScenza and Lorraine Craig for their exemplarily work on this case as well as Mark Erskine, Litigation Support Specialist for the US Attorney's Office.

I also want to thank the Special Agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation My Harrison for her leadership during Operation Tennessee Waltz.

Finally, I want to recognize Special Agents Brian Burns and Mark Jackson from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Methodist Le Bonheur to Launch "Faith and Health" Center

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare (MLH) in Memphis is creating a "Center of Excellence in Faith and Health." To be housed at Methodist University Hospital, the center will include a "family-centered healing environment" that features a quiet area, laundry rooms, showers for family members, and space for chaplains and clergy to counsel their members.

The project will also add a resource center, meeting space, and a meditation garden with a labyrinth and prayer area, and will feature a 24/7 on-call chaplain. A founding gift of $1 million will get the project rolling, and construction should begin in January 2008.

"In the past two decades a growing body of evidence has emerged that shows that patients who are active participants in a worshipping community have significantly better health outcomes," said Gary R. Gunderson, MLH's senior vice president of health and welfare ministries. "The Center of Excellence in Faith and Health reflects solid medical evidence that the link between faith and health is important to long-term patient outcomes."

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