The Third MiracleAfter nine years in Oakland, poet and playwright Pamela Gray moved to L.A. in 1990 to strike it rich as a screenwriter. Two years, she figured, and she'd be back in Northern California. Instead, it took all of the '90s. Finally, after Music of the Heart, Gray says, "I could trust I could still get jobs if I left L.A."
So she has. Since moving to Sonoma County a year ago, Gray has written a drama (Still Life) for producer/ star Michael Douglas and Meryl Streep; she has adapted Sara Tuvel Bernstein's Holocaust memoir, The Seamstress, for director Agnieskza Holland; and she was just assigned to write a romantic comedy for Julia Roberts. "I feel lucky that I'm being handed projects that are female-driven," Gray said before driving down for an S.F. Jewish Film Festival reprise screening of A Walk on the Moon, her most personal script to date. "There's no question there are fewer of those."
Gray uses poetic license frugally in transposing true stories to the screen. "My attempts to be respectful of the real people, and my responsibility to tell their story, can get in the way of full creative freedom," she admits. The tentative plan is for The Seamstress to go before the cameras next, after Holland finishes another project. "Agnieskza met with some actresses, but it's up in the air until we know when we're making the movie," says Gray, alluding to the potential writers' and actors' strikes. But there's nothing uncertain about Universal's commitment: "I know when a studio person is just saying words, and when they mean something," Gray declares.
Heaven Can WaitIt's no secret that ticket sales at the AMC Kabuki have been bruised by the success both of its own cousin on Van Ness and Sony's Metreon, so AMC's recent announcement of its plans to shutter unhealthy theaters darkened our day. "The screens likely to close are the suburban six-, eight-, 10-screen complexes in direct competition with new megaplexes," Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications Rick King reassured us from AMC's Kansas City offices. "The Kabuki is certainly not at the top of anyone's list to close down." Phew. Now we can go back to fretting about the Presidio and the UA Vogue.
I Cover the WaterfrontAt Sundance, Tom Shepard's Scout's Honor shared the documentary Audience Award (as predicted Dec. 20 in this space) and snared the Freedom of Expression Award. David Siegel and Scott McGehee's The Deep End (RW, Aug. 30, 2000) took the cinematography prize in the dramatic competition and, even better, was acquired for distribution by Fox Searchlight. ... In the Light of Reverence, South Bay filmmaker Toby McLeod's soul-stirring study of Native American sacred sites, screens Feb. 17 at the Palace of Fine Arts ahead of a choice slot in PBS's summer "P.O.V." series. ... Local Kari Nevil's debut feature, Your Guardian (May 24, 2000), kicks off the 11th Cinequest Film Festival in San Jose on Feb. 22. ... The opening of Monkeybone, Henry Selick's S.F.-shot hybrid of stop-motion animation and live action, has been moved up to Feb. 23.