Vive indie film!

With the Grand Illusion Cinema freshly remodeled and the historic University Theater slated for reopening, you film buffs out there have your best chance in recent years to vote with your dollars. The choice is simple: If it's odious cineplexes you patronize, then it's more odious cineplexes you'll get. If, however, it's venues for thought-stirring independent films that you want, then the Northwest Film Forum's movie houses should get your vote.

Unveiled last month, the gussied-up Grand Illusion has restored (and cozy!) antique theater seats, broader aisles, and a new roof, deck, wheelchair ramp, curtains, and carpeting. The Northwest Film Forum, the nonprofit organization that purchased the 30-year-old theater last year, also acquired a special dual-projection system that will accommodate rare collector prints. Among the first revivals is Robert Bresson's 1962 classic The Trial of Joan Arc (August 14-20).

Beyond its regular slate of outstanding independent and foreign films, the Grand Illusion also features a Late Night Film Series (Fridays and Saturdays at 11pm); a Children's Summer Film Series (weekdays through late August); and July's Music Film Festival (featuring the Velvet Underground and Nico, July 27-28).

Next fall the NWFF plans to reopen the University Theater, an 84-year-old, 243-seat relic at 57th Street NE and University Way. The organization also runs WigglyWorld Studios, a Capitol Hill facility with four editing suites and production space.

For more info on the NWFF, call (206) 329-2629 or check out the group's Web site at www.wigglyworld.org. Memberships are available.

The center-wing bias

So you think journalists are a bunch of lefties, eh? Chew on this: A recent survey of 141 reporters working out of Washington, DC, reveals that most national journalists (57 percent) consider themselves "centrists," and that their political and economic views often fall to the right of what the general public thinks. Compared to Joe and Jane Six-Pack, for instance, fewer DC-based reporters believe that corporations have too much power (57 percent to 77 percent), that the federal government should guarantee health care for all citizens (43 to 64), that the economy is in "fair" or "poor" condition (5 to 34), and that rich people don't pay enough income tax (18 to 72). Only on the question of whether environmental laws are "worth the cost" did journalists land to the left of the citizenry (79 percent to 63 percent). The survey was conducted this past spring by Virginia Commonwealth University sociology professor David Croteau for the New York Citybased media-watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). Check out the entire study at www.fair.org/reports/journalist-survey.html.

Stacking the deck

Ever wonder why Corporate America is so successful at gaining access to the mainstream press? That most of the mainstream press is owned by Corporate America is the key reason. But here's another: In two recent "Media Sources Guides" published in the journalism trade magazine Quill, two-thirds of the "sources" made available to the thousands of reporters and editors who read the publication were either corporations (e.g., Boeing, Chrysler, and Sprint) or corporate advocacy groups (e.g., American Petroleum Institute, National Association of Securities Dealers, National Federation of Independent Business, and the Sugar Association). Only 10 percent of the sources represented non-commercial interests, such as the American Legion and Boys Town USA. Universities, research organizations, think tanks, and the like were nowhere to be seen.

Speaking freely

Fresh out of office, former Seattle City Council member Charlie Chong recently debuted his own public-access television show. The Chong Report airs the second Tuesday of the month at 6pm on cable Channel 29. He's got a Web site, too: www.charliechong.org.... Meanwhile, conservative guru John Carlson has a new Internet-based talk show. Spout off at www.TalkSpot.com.

You are what you read

Magazines on display in the lobby of the King County Public Defender's Office include The American Prospect, The Nation, New Internationalist, and The Progressive. Meanwhile, the King County Prosecutor's Office makes available Martha Stewart Living, Money, People, Reader's Digest, and Traditional Home. Is there any symmetry here?

Loose change

An all-time record 25,261 new consumer products were introduced to the American marketplace last year, up 65 percent from 1990. During that same period, however, citizens' sense of well-being rose just 2 percent, according to an American Demographics poll.... The Apex Belltown Housing Cooperative recently rejected a $3,000 offer to hang an Amazon.com billboard from its building.... Newsroom staffers at the San Diego Union-Tribune have voted to decertify the Newspaper Guild, making it the largest paper in more than 20 years to oust its union.... Nearly half of the country's TV-viewing public considers America's Most Wanted news rather than entertainment, and a fourth thinks the same about A Current Affair, according to the Pew Research Center for People and the Press.... Pew also reports that newspapers are slashing their coverage of state government news, with the number of reporters assigned to state capitals declining in 27 states since 1990.... The Virginia-based distributor of the Iranian newspaper Mojahed has won the right to withhold its subscriber list and bank records from the US State Department, which argued in federal court that the publication is linked to an Iranian terrorist group.... The FBI has posted once-classified files on Adolf Hitler, John Lennon, Marilyn Monroe, and other historical notables. Skulk your way to www.fbi.gov.

 
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