Hearts skip a beat all over C-U

We try our hardest to not clutter up C-U Blogfidential with useless material, but every once in a while we give ourselves no choice but to post about matters either too incredible, funny, or stupid to pass up. I believe the following item is planted squarely in the latter category.

A News-Gazette article that ran this past Tuesday, October 14, reported on the signing of Oscar-nominated actor Hal Holbrook to appear at LincolnFest, a venture that will explore our sixteenth president’s legacy through film, music, and discussion. While Holbrook and fundraising are the primary angles in the article, given that organizers Dannel McCollum and Nancy Casey have yet to announce a schedule, I’d like to concentrate on a quote that caught me off guard by addressing another topic rather bluntly.

At one point, the piece by Paul Wood states that McCollum and Casey have considered producing several “vintage film festivals” at the Virginia Theatre. This is all well and good, even though LincolnFest probably doesn’t sound very enticing at the moment unless one happens to be a history buff, a school teacher, or a Republican reveling in past glories. (I know it could be argued that most Republicans revel in past glories, but that’s another editorial for a different Weblog.) To quantify the worth of such programming, the former mayor of Champaign drops this:

“We can’t always count on Ebertfest because we can’t always count on Roger’s health,” McCollum said. “But we can successfully put on movie festivals, and the Virginia is the ideal location.”

I’ve thought it. So have you. And, probably, all of our friends and their friends, too. It’s the once-unspeakable concept that has weaseled its way into discussions regularly during the past few years: When Roger Ebert moves on to that closed balcony in the sky, will Roger Ebert’s Film Festival follow suit, if not sooner? That is probably something only Chaz Ebert, Nate Kohn, and the UIUC College of Media can answer when the time comes. To that end, I’m positive that the CoM really appreciated McCollum not only implying that their big-ticket annual event won’t fly without its namesake – even though it did exactly that back in April – but that his own events could step in as an heir apparent.

Honestly, I don’t believe McCollum meant it in “that way,” but his statment does read a tad presumptive and arrogant especially with his flagship cinema-based event still on the horizon. (It seems like I’ve had problems recently with reading the entrepreneurial intentions of others. Oh, wait, that was only yesterday.) Even with former Ebertfest producer Casey at his side, McCollum has his work cut out for him, although something in my gut tells me LincolnFest can’t help but be a hit because it will appeal to all ages. It’s what many community members will proudly call “family friendly” and artistic types like your humble editor will begrudgingly label “safe.”

Unless, of course, the Fates pull enough strings and coerce the organizers to book this movie.

According to the News-Gazette, LincolnFest will take place at the Virginia Theatre in downtown Champaign on March 12-15, 2009. It is a co-production of the Champaign County Historical Museum and the Champaign County Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.

~ Jason Pankoke

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