By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — From premieres of movies and plays to breaking, national news with surprising local ties, September has been a newsy month.
In fact, there doesn’t seem to be time and space to fit in some of the most interesting tidbits.
Could Las Cruces end up with two Academy Award nominated writer-directors in residence, for instance?
It’s been a busy summer for our original hometown triple-threat movie ace, writer-director-producer Mark Medoff, a Tony Award winner who has twice taken plays from Las Cruces to Broadway. His “Children of a Lesser God” earned a screenwriting Academy Award nomination for Mark, and Marlee Matlin won a Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Medoff’s tormented deaf heroine.
Medoff directed and shares writing credits with Phil Treon for “Refuge,” starring Linda Hamilton, filmed here this summer, and this week debuts a new version of his “The Same Life Over,” at the Black Box Theatre.
I thought of Mark when I heard Patrick Swayze had died after a brave bout with pancreatic cancer.
The two worked together when Swayze starred in “The City of Joy.” Mark wrote the screenplay for the 1992 film, based on the novel of the same name by Dominique Lapierre.
“We enjoyed working together,” Medoff said. “I haven’t been in touch with Patrick since ‘City of Joy,’ but at that time we had several conversations — which included his wife, Lisa, who was his coach — about the character and the script. My sense of him was of a generous man who cared deeply about the work.”
Guillermo Arriaga, another Academy Award-nominated writer (for “Babel”), was in Las Cruces again this month for a preview of “The Burning Plain,” which was filmed in Las Cruces and Oregon in late 2007 and early 2008, and went into limited national release on Sept. 18 and will be screened Nov. 6 through 12 here at the Fountain Theatre in Mesilla.
Since the Sept. 11 “Burning Plain” benefit screening, its images have haunted my mind and I thought about Guillermo’s comment that “being a parking lot film is the worst thing that can happen to a film — by the time you get to the parking lot, you’ve already forgotten it.”
No danger of that for the “Plain.”
It fact, “The Burning Plain” was a hot topic on The View, Sept. 17, generating comments from all the hosts, including Barbara Walters, Whoopi Goldberg and guest host La Toya Jackson.
“I have to tell you, in the opening of the movie, she’s totally nude,” Jackson said, as she welcomed the film’s star Charlize Theron.
“It’s an incredibly beautiful film and for me that was one of the most beautiful openings I’ve ever read in a script. To me, it was like, ‘Who’s this woman?’ And as a reader (of the script), I wanted to take that journey with her,” Theron said.
Theron and Arriaga appeared together on the Charlie Rose Show the same day. I missed it, but I heard reports that both had praise for Las Cruces and their filming experiences here.
“Charlize has a crush on New Mexico. She loves it,” Arriaga said.
Theron’s film credits in our territory also include “North County,” filmed in 2005 in Silver City.
Both times I’ve interviewed Arriaga, the Mexico City native has said he wants to make more films here and stressed that he’s serious about buying a home in Las Cruces.
Rumors have been afloat (if rumors can do that, in high desert county, here in Hollywood on the Rio Grande) that two major motion pictures are contemplating filming here soon. One rumor was confirmed last week, when a casting director put out a call for 100 drivers and their cars to appear in “Due Date,” a new comedy starring two-time Oscar nominee Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis and Michelle Monaghan.
Maybe we’ll see you — along with many of the rest of us, and the always photogenic Organ Mountains — in the movies.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to www.lcsun-news.com and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style.