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January 4, 2007

Vol 4 • No 51

Ding, ding, ding went the trolley

Perhaps you noticed a cartoon today in the Democrat-Gazette. It poked a little fun at the low ridership of the River Rail streetcar.

UA ditches Huckabee scheme

Stephens Media reports that UA President Alan Sugg says the university will find a more "appropriate" way to fund cancer research and endow a chair for Gov. Mike Huckabee's fat doctor at UAMS than to accept money diverted by the governor from legislative appropriations to unappropriated uses.

More Toyota talk

The Wall Street Journal this morning is reporting that Marion, Ark., is one of two sites being considered for a new Toyota automobile assembly plant.An article on Page A3, with an accompanying map, says Marion is in the running for a plant with the capacity to manufacture 200,000 units of a new version of Toyota's Highlander SUV.

The Senate leader

Good column today by Brummett on Sen. Jack Critcher, the new president pro tem, quoted in the D-G the other day as indicating education issues don't interest him.

Local comic makes good

The NY Times gives big feature treatment today to James "Lil' J J" Lewis, a 16-year-old standup comic from Little Rock who's starring in a new Nickolodeon series, "Just Jordan," which begins Sunday.

Psst, Ark. legislature. Take a hint

Headline we wish we'd see emulated by the coming legislature: Ethics Overhaul Tops the Agenda in New Congress Or maybe something like NY Gov. Eliot Spitzer's first legislative address:

The car saga continues

Regular readers are familiar with my experience with intruders in the demoliition derby-quality 92 Volvo I leave parked on the street outside my house -- unlocked to prevent further broken windows by thieves in search of whatever worthless radio might be installed or loose change.

Screen Actors Guild Nominations

Best Ensemble: "Babel," "Bobby," "The Departed," "Dreamgirls," "Little Miss Sunshine." Best Male Actor (lead): Leonardo DiCaprio ("Blood Diamond"), Ryan Gosling ("Half Nelson"), Peter O'Toole ("Venus"), Will Smith ("The Pursuit of Happyness"), Forest Whitaker ("The Last King of Scotland") Best Female Actor (lead): Penelope Cruz ("Volver"), Judi Dench ("Notes on a Scandal"), Helen Mirren ("The Queen"), Meryl Streep ("The Devil Wears Prada"), Kate Winslet ("Little Children") Best Male Actor (supporting): Alan Arkin ("Little Miss Sunshine"), Leonardo DiCaprio ("The Departed"), Jackie Earle Haley ("Little Children"), Djimon Hounsou ("Blood Diamond"), Eddie Murphy ("Dreamgirls") Best Female Actor (supporting): Adriana Barraza ("Babel"), Cate Blanchett ("Notes on a Scandal"), Abagail Breslin ("Little Miss Sunshine"), Jennifer Hudson ("Dreamgirls"), Rinko Kikuchi ("Babel") BSR Thoughts: No "The Queen," or "Letters from Iwo Jima."  Sacha Baron Cohen shut out of best actor race.  No Jack Nicholson or Mark Wahlberg for supporting or Michael Sheen or Brad Pitt for that matter.  Will Leo be classified for supporting for the Oscars?  No Catherine O'Hara for female supporting.  Big day for "Little Miss Sunshine" and Ryan Gosling (both are fighting for the final Oscar slot in their respective categories). 

King George

Bush takes "pushing the envelope" to a whole new level. A NY Daily News exclusive (accompanied -- in fine tabloid style, lest anyone not have time to get to the words -- by the photo and headline displayed here):


    Also "Happily N'Ever After," "Code Name: The Cleaner," and "Thr3e."  It's January, bring on the garbage.

Buckle up

Comes a news release today that a broad coalition has formed to push for a primary seat belt law in the coming legislative session.

Metropolitan statement on arrest

Metropolitan National Bank issued a statement today expressing thanks to the police for making an arrest in the slaying of branch employee James Garison Dec. 23.

Star-studded speakers' lineup

The Clinton School of Public Service announces a star-studded lineup of speakers for spring, generally open to the public for free, that will range from  Karl Rove (who, unfortunately, is not otherwise engaged by federal correctional officers) to puzzle king Will Shortz.

Star-studded speakers' lineup

The Clinton School of Public Service announces a star-studded lineup of speakers for spring, generally open to the public for free, that will range from  Karl Rove (who, unfortunately, is not otherwise engaged by federal correctional officers) to puzzle king Will Shortz.

More Beebe staff -- CORRECTED

Mike Beebe has announced more executive appointments. Lamar Davis will be deputy chief of staff, Beebe also named Philip Hood, chief executive officer of as a commissioner on the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission (replacing Terry Turner Alan McClain); retained Darryl Little, as director of the Arkansas State Plant Board; retained John Shannon as director of the Arkansas Forestry Commission; and named Colette Honorable, director of the Arkansas Workforce Investment Board, succeeding Sandra Winston.  Please note the correction on Workers Comp, which we reported erroneously originally from a mistaken title on the news release: Hood replaces Huckabee chief of staff Brenda Turner's husband in a slot on the commission for a representative of labor.

Raise the severance tax

A couple of do-gooder groups called in the press today to make -- yet again -- the ironclad case that Arkansas's severance tax on natural gas is scandalously low and that it could be raised to levels in the region without harm to Arkansas and with great benefit to worthy public programs.

More on SAG, movies in general

If your an awards junkie or you really want to know what happening leading up to the Academy Awards then pay close attention to the following:  1) The Dallas Ft. Worth critics pick for Best Picture; 2) The Directors Guild nominations (out Jan. 9); the SAG awards (released yesterday and posted below) and, to some minor extent, the Golden Globes.Also, if you're a serious predictor, then look closely at what films have just been sent to Academy voters whose ballots are due in 10 days.  Note that many members of the SAG still had not seen "Letters from Iwo Jima."  That's one reason it wasn't included (I have not seen the film, but critics loved it).  In order for the Academy to watch it before they vote, they have to do it this week.  I'm a firm believer that people will vote for films that have momentum.  That said,  I think Academy members have a real dilemma on their hands: critical darling "United 93," everybody's all-american film "Little Miss Sunshine," or CLINT'S!

Beebe, leg. leaders look to session

The upcoming Arkansas legislative session will probably include a determined but diplomatic fight over cutting the grocery tax, a move to ban gay people from being foster parents and even consideration of eliminating the sales tax exemption on motor fuel, according to comments today by Gov.-elect Mike Beebe, state Senate president pro-tem Jack Critcher and state House speaker Benny Petrus to a journalists' forum hosted by the Associated Press Managing Editors and the Arkansas Press Association.

Crazy Lawsuit of the Week

Crazy Lawsuit of the WeekLets say I just got married ( at this rate, a diminishing prospect) and the day after the wedding I'm off to Aruba.

Civics lesson for the governor

After 10 years in office, you'd think Gov. Mike Huckabee wouldn't need remedial instruction in the basics of state law, Constitution and the legislative appropriation process.

Wallow in it

For Zelda: Democrats take the gavels in Congress (bad link fixed) Nancy Pelosi's leadership is wonderful, of course, but there are shining lights all over, such as, from MyDD, our hero, Rep. Barney Frank.

The 'C' in ABC must not mean "comedy"

Variety reports today that ABC's Wednesday night debuts of comedy shows "The Knights of Prosperity" and "In Case of Emergency" fared poorly in the ratings.

Shoe plant to close

Munro and Co. announced today that it's closing its Wynne shoe factory, a move that will put about 170 people out of work in a phase-out to last through March.

One final hissy fit -- UPDATE

UPDATE: (Head to the jump and find UA System President Alan Sugg's response to today's developments.)

Looking ahead to Friday: The Boondogs

We're looking forward to seeing the Boondogs back on stage at Sticky Fingerz on Friday, Jan. 5, and we're also looking forward to seeing the opener, singer-songwriter Sara Thomas, who we haven't heard much out of in a few weeks.

Maybe we need ...

... an open line.

The Mind of Matt: Houston, and seeing Joe Johnson

Our travelog writer and rock man Matt Smith is on the road again and reporting from Houston:

St. Joseph’s facilitates opening of Express Care Clinic in McAuley Center

St. Joseph’s Mercy Health Center recently moved the healthcare services provided by the Mercy Extended Care Clinic from its Mercy Medical Clinic location at 903 DeSoto Blvd. to a more convenient site in the McAuley Center at 5010 Highway 7 North.

Contribution to Washington Regional Cancer Support Home, Bentonville

Officials from the Wal-Mart Corporate Office will present a contribution to the Cancer Support Home in Bentonville

The gift giver

Gov. Mike Huckabee's quote in the Stephens Media coverage of his illegal efforts to direct state taxpayer money to UNappropriated purposes -- including enhanced support for the physician who helped him shed pounds -- illustrates the thickness of his skull and his presumptuousness.

Fort Smith gets a museum

Fort Smith Boy broke the news here last night, but here's a link to Stephens story on the selection of Fort Smith as the site of a new U.S. marshal's museum.

Teeth for the FOI

I was thinking of this topic last night, when the governor's putative press secretary was refusing my request for public documents she had provided others in the media.

Another casualty

A Marine on leave from his second tour of duty in Iraq has died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Ash Flat.

Philip Martin weighs in on "the worthy debate"

I had a post here last week about the many, many films that had not made it to Little Rock.  In today's Democrat Gazette, Philip Martin argues that Arkansas isn't a cultural backwater because we don't get many of these films.  As he notes, neither does "95 percent of the country."

10 wins and some folks still aren't happy

10 wins and some folks still aren't happy

2007 predictions

LA Times asks film critics from around the way to weigh in what will happen in 2007.  These are worth reading. 

Asa! lands a job!

Report says vanquished GOP gubernatorial nominee Asa Hutchinson is going back to work for the Venable lobbying/law firm in Washington, though he'll still split time with his homeland consulting business in Little Rock.

A running start

Organizers say registration is WAY up for the Little Rock Marathon March 4 and they are now predicting some 9,000 participants in the various run/walk categories.

The guv's pocket change

In case you've been a little confused about the money swapping that's been going on lately by Gov. Mike Huckabee in his attempt to benefit programs of his choosing at UAMS, despite an absence of appropriations for those programs: The money in question comes from the executive portion of the General Improvement Fund, an accumulation of surpluses and interest on state deposits and other recovered money that was split between the legislature and the governor in the 2005 session and appropriated in Act 2315 for dozens of projects.

Headline to Hot Springs? Here's some music choices

David  Hughes in the Spa City offers a few live music tips for those hitting the town tonight.

Eddie Sutton returns to LR for Tip-Off Luncheon

Former University of Arkansas coach Eddie Sutton will be back in Arkansas on Monday,  Jan. 8, to address the fledgling Downtown Tip-Off Club.

Get your bets down

For those of you who've been wondering, Sam of Greasy Creek lives. He's just sent me a link to a story about a bookmaker that has posted odds on the 2008 presidential race.

Get your bets down

For those of you who've been wondering, Sam of Greasy Creek lives. He's just sent me a link to a story about a bookmaker that has posted odds on the 2008 presidential race.

Tivo-VCR alert

Thanks to 70%er for the tip that then-former Gov. Mike Huckabee will join Jon Stewart on the Daily Show Thursday,  Jan. 11, presumably in the book segment of the show.

Death to traitors

Care to celebrate the execution of a traitorous spy intent on doing grievous damage to troops of the United States of America?

Death to traitors

Care to celebrate the execution of a traitorous spy intent on doing grievous damage to troops of the United States of America?

New appeals judge

Brian S. Miller of Helena has been appointed by Gov. Mike Huckabee to fill, at least numerically, a slot left open by Court of Appeals Judge Andree Layton Roaf's retirement Dec. 31.

Surgery for Mrs. Huckabee

Arkansas First Lady Janet Huckabee is recovering after undergoing surgery Friday to remove her gallbladder, the governor's office said.

Surgery for Mrs. Huckabee

Arkansas First Lady Janet Huckabee is recovering after undergoing surgery Friday to remove her gallbladder, the governor's office said.

Perfect in every way

Baptist Press talks up a Mike Huckabee presidential candidacy. It includes this knee-slapper:

Perfect in every way

Baptist Press talks up a Mike Huckabee presidential candidacy. It includes this knee-slapper:

Suspect heading home

Grover Evans Jr., charged with capital murder in the Dec. 23 slaying of a Metropolitan National Bank teller, has waived extradition in California and will be returned by police detectives to Arkansas soon, the police said this afternoon.

Suspect heading home

Grover Evans Jr., charged with capital murder in the Dec. 23 slaying of a Metropolitan National Bank teller, has waived extradition in California and will be returned by police detectives to Arkansas soon, the police said this afternoon.

Open line

Enough already. Your comments are welcome.

Open line

Enough already. Your comments are welcome.

Si, senor

From our e-mail: As part of its professional language institute and in response to several conversations with leading Arkansas contractors, the Winthrop Rockefeller Center of the University of Arkansas System is offering a specialized workshop, called Spanish for Construction Sites.  The course provides immediate access to functional language skills for you or your non-Spanish-speaking supervisors.  The workshop will be held at the Winthrop Rockefeller Center (the Center) on Petit Jean Mountain beginning Tuesday, February 27 at 1:00 PM and ending at 1:00 PM, March 1 st, 2007.


  Why we not have? In response to publisher's demand: a photo of an earlier monster hog unearthed in Georgia in 2004.

Major Gift to Washington Regional Capital Campaign

Representatives from The Bank of Fayetteville and Washington Regional will attend a special presentation ceremony marking a significant gift from The Bank of Fayetteville to Washington Regional’s expansion project.

Co-workers select Beer as St. Joseph’s 2006 Case Manager of the Year

Lisa Beer, MA, was recently selected as 2006 Case Manager of the Year by her peers in the St. Joseph’s Mercy Health Center Case Management Department.

The new governor aims to please

I was talking the other day with Mike Beebe to glean his thoughts for a column to appear Tuesday, the day of his inauguration as governor. It will center on broad themes and ponder the big picture of whether our new Democratic chief executive offers boldn

Ethics watch

Since the term-limited legislature has become little more than a prep school for lobbyists, we suspect Sen. Robert Thompson's bill to require a one-year waiting period for ex-legislators to become lobbyists faces tough sledding.

Mailbag report

I've been slacking today. Or doing other constructive things, if you prefer.

Those turrible blogs

Thanks to RP for a link to a St. Louis story about how blogs are breaking a lot of political news up in Missouri and the politicians don't like it one bit.

"And You'll Be a Moviegoer, My Son"

Another great column from A.O. Scott. In other words: Parents of America, take your children to the movies you want to see!

River Rail

Since the mere mention of the River Rail stirred so much discussion last week, I"ll give this e-mail a separate entry.

Scripter nominations

This year’s finalists, in alphabetical order by film title, are: screenwriters Alfonso Cuaron & Timothy J. Sexton and David Arata and Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby for “Children of Men,” based on the book by P.D. James; screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna and author Lauren Weisberger for “The Devil Wears Prada”; screenwriter Neil Berger for “The Illusionist,” based on the story “Eisenheim the Illusionist” by Steven Millhauser; screenwriters Peter Morgan and Jeremy Brock for “The Last King of Scotland,” based on the book by Giles Foden; and screenwriter Patrick Marber and author Zoe Heller for “Notes on a Scandal.” Scripter is awarded annually by the University of Southern California Libraries to honor writers for the best achievement in adaptation among English-language films released during the previous year and based on a book, novella or short story.

The odd couple

Brummett today does some deeper examination of the surprise appointment of former House Speaker Bill Stovall as assistant to his one-time rival, new House Speaker Benny Petrus.

Consider the source carefully

But thanks to a reader last night for a link to the American Spectator blog that floats an unsourced rumor that Mike Huckabee may throw in with the Mitt Romney campaign.

Consider the source carefully

But thanks to a reader last night for a link to the American Spectator blog that floats an unsourced rumor that Mike Huckabee may throw in with the Mitt Romney campaign.

Green means go for it

Hey, creativity counts. The New York Times today includes the University of Arkansas in a feature on the latest in college theme parties from around the country.

The man behind Donrey

Bob Lancaster reviewed this book for us previously, but today the New York Times provides a first chapter in "Wrestling with Gravy," a memoir by writer Jonathan Reynolds, the son of Donald W. Reynolds, who built a huge media chain from a start in Fort Smith that was sold after his death to the Stephens family of Little Rock.

The nut beat

The Morning News offers some interesting background on militia man Hollis Wayne Fincher, being prosecuted for possession of automatic weapons.

'Children of Men'

I saw the film last night in a packed theatre.  My reactio this morning, which is the same last night is that the film is extraordinary in all aspects: image, sound, acting, direction.  Clive Owen is spectacular, but Michael Caine steals the screen.  Alfonso Cuaron has made on the best films of the year.

'The Oscars'

is the title of the special section in the New York Times today.  Several interesting articles, including A.O. Scott on "Letters from Iwo Jima," Manohla Dargis on "Children of Men," and Stephen Holden on "Little Children."

Still dead

What would the Sunday following the annual lamentation of the hanging of the traitorous David O. Dodd be without photo and story in the Dixiecrat-Gazette, where hope springs eternal that the southland may yet rise again?

Still dead

What would the Sunday following the annual lamentation of the hanging of the traitorous David O. Dodd be without photo and story in the Dixiecrat-Gazette, where hope springs eternal that the southland may yet rise again?

National Society of Film Critics: 'Pan's Labyrinth'

(from BEST PICTURE: Pan's Labyrinth BEST DIRECTOR: Paul Greengrass, United 93 BEST SCREENPLAY: The Queen BEST DOCUMENTARY/NON-FICTION FILM: An Inconvenient Truth BEST ACTOR: Forest Whitaker, Last King of Scotland BEST ACTRESS: Helen Mirren, The Queen S. ACTRESS: Meryl Streep, A Prarie Home Companion + The Devil Wears Prada S. ACTOR: Mark Whalberg, The Departed CINEMATOGRAPHY: Children of Men Experimental: Inland Empire

Celebrities mull movies

that impacted them most in this survey from Variety.  Here are a couple of interesting choices: Senator John McCain: "Viva Zapata!" directed by Elia Kazan, among others.

Novelists not always welcome in Hollywood

Here's an interesting piece from the AP about how novelists don't always end up scripting the screenplay.  Christopher Buckley, author of the novel "Thank You for Smoking," Zoe Heller, author of the novel "What Was She Thinking?: Notes on a Scandal: A Novel," and Tom Perrotta, author of the novel "Little Children" are mentioned.  Thanks to a dedicated reader for sending. 

Wal-Mart watch

When you have to buy ads to convince the public what a good corporate citizen you are ... well, if nothing else it doesn't exactly hold down the cost of merchandise.

How about an open line?

While I take advantage of some sun for a walk.

How about an open line?

While I take advantage of some sun for a walk.

Crossing party lines

Brummett marvels at George McGovern's admission that he voted for Gerald Ford over Jimmy Carter and how politics have evolved in such a way that such crossovers seem impossible today.

Sharing the wealth

That rising tide of economic prosperity in Benton County apparently isn't lifting all boats. The United Way drive is falling well short of its goal.

Wesley Clark on the 'surge'

In the Washington Post, he writes an op-ed today: The odds are that this week President Bush will announce a "surge" of up to 20,000 additional U.S. troops into Iraq.

Palm Springs Festival: 'Babel'

Winners at the Palm Springs International Film Festival 2007 Gala Awards: Ensemble Performance Award:"Babel" Director of the Year: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu ("Babel") Career Achievement Award: Cate Blanchett ("Babel," "Notes on a Scandal," "The Good German") Desert Palm Achievement for Action: Kate Winslet ("Little Children") Sony Bono Visionary Award: Todd Field ("Little Children") Rising Star Award, Male: Adam Beach ("Flags of Our Fathers") Rising Star Award, Female: Jessica Biel ("The Illusionist") Frederick Loewe Award for Film Composing: Philip Glass ("The Illusionist," "Notes on a Scandal") Chairman's Vanguard Award: "Little Miss Sunshine" SAG Foundation Patron of the Arts Award: Sydney Pollack Breakthrough Performance Award: Jennifer Hudson ("Dreamgirls")

More on novelists in Hollywood

Here's a story posted today in Variety featuring novelists discussing the adaptations of the books to the big screen. 

DGA announces tomorrow

The Director's Guild, generally the best predictor of the best picture contenders, names the 5 best directors of 2006.  I think three are locks: Martin Scorsese ("The Departed"), Clint Eastwood ("Letters from Iwo Jima") and Stephen Frears ("The Queen").  I'm guessing Bill Condon will get a nomination for "Dreamgirls."  That leaves one spot, which will be among the following (in order): Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu ("Babel"), Alfonso Cuaron ("Children of Men"), Guillermo del Toro ("Pan's Labyrinth"), and Paul Greengrass ("United 93").  Everything tells me that Inarritu will get the nod, but I still think there will be a surprise.  Condon could be left out in favor of Cuaron or del Toro as well.  

Beebe's midnight breakfast

Gov.-elect Mike Beebe's inaugural activities begin today, but one event not on the official roster is a post-gala "midnight breakfast" tomorrow night at Nu Cusine and Lounge.

Military gets a blue tint

An op-ed from the LA Times, by Rosa Brooks, begins: Buried in the news last week was one of the most potentially significant stories of recent years.

Live from the legislature

Roby Brock is blogging "live" from the legislature today, beginning with Speaker Benny Petrus' opening speech.

New judge

Gov. Mike Huckabee had one last piece of official business today, if unexpected. He made a speedy appointment to the Arkansas Court of Appeals to replace Judge Terry Short-Crabtree, who died suddenly Saturday at his Bentonville home.

Jumped the gun

A squib over the weekend about Mike Beebe's intention to continue the governor's call-in show on AETN was premature, it turns out.

The House bosses

Courtesy of Roby Brock's Talk Business, here are Speaker Petrus' key appointments to committee leadership: Revenue & Tax – Rep. Keven Andersen, Chair; Rep. Allen Maxwell, Vice-chair Agriculture & Economic Development - Rep. Tommy Dickinson, Chair; Rep. James Norton, Vice-chair Insurance & Commerce - Rep. Sid Rosenbaum, Chair; Rep. David Wyatt, Vice-chair Public Health, Welfare and Labor - Rep. Eddie Cooper, Chair; Rep. Johnny Key, Vice-chair Education - Rep. Meke Kinney, Chair; Rep. Bill Abernathy, Vice-chair Judiciary - Rep. Robert Jeffery, Chair; Rep. Mark Pate, Vice-chair State Agencies - Rep. Jeff Wood, Chair; Rep. Rick Saunders, Vice-chair Transportation, Technology & Legislative Affairs - Rep. Robbie Wills, Chair; Rep. Frank Glidewell, Vice-chair City, County & Local Affairs - Rep. Stephanie Flowers, Chair; Rep. David Johnson, Vice-chair Aging, Children & Youth – Rep. Linda Chesterfield, Chair; Rep. Dawn Creekmore, Vice-chair Rules - Rep. David Dunn, Chair; Rep. Otis Davis, Vice-chairRep.

Alltel Arena clocks in at 42 in the nation in 06 concert attendance

The final tally is in and North Little Rock's Alltel Arena ranked 42nd among U.S. arena venues and 60th in the world in concert attendance in 2006, according to Pollstar.

Alltel ranked

In its annual ranking of the Top 100 Arena Venues in America for 2006, Pollstar magazine ranks Alltel Arena as No. 60.

It's unsafe out there

A highway safety lobby rates Arkansas among the four worst states in the country in terms of highway safety laws.

Harding makes top ten list

Via Mark Elrod's Lame-O Weblog comes word that Harding University in Searcy is once again among the top ten conservative colleges in the U.S., as determined by the Young America's Foundation.

Free swill tonight

As a public service, we'll try to keep you informed of the larger legislative hoedowns (understanding that the most critical work is done with select legislators over higher-priced dinners).

St. Louis Film Critics: 'The Departed'

Best Picture: "The Departed" Best Actor: Forest Whitaker ("The Last King Of Scotland") Best Actress: Helen Mirren ("The Queen") Best Supporting Actor: Djimon Hounsou ("Blood Diamond") Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson ("Dreamgirls") Best Director: Martin Scorsese ("The Departed") Best Screenplay: "The Queen" Best Foreign Language Film: "Pan’s Labyrinth" Best Documentary: "An Inconvenient Truth" Most Original, Innovative or Creative Film: "United 93"

Online Film Critics: 'United 93'

BEST PICTURE: “United 93” BEST DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese - “The Departed” BEST ACTOR: Forest Whitaker - The Last King of Scotland” BEST ACTRESS: Helen Mirren - “The Queen” BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Jackie Earle Haley - “Little Children” BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Abigail Breslin - “Little Miss Sunshine” BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Guillermo del Toro - “Pan’s Labyrinth” BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Alfonso Cuaron, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby - “Children of Men” BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Emmanuel Lubeski - “Children of Men” BEST EDITING: Clare Douglas, Richard Pearson and Christopher Rouse - “United 93” BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: Clint Mansell - “The Fountain” BEST DOCUMENTARY: “An Inconvenient Truth” BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: “Pan's Labyrinth” (Mexico) BEST ANIMATED FILM: “A Scanner Darkly” BREAKTHROUGH FILMMAKER: Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris - “Little Miss Sunshine” BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMER: Sacha Baron Cohen - “Borat”

Up and away

AP gets a final interview with Mike Huckabee as governor. Be sure to read through to the end.

Actual Italian Food in Jacksonville

Just in case some of you Jacksonville/North-Pulaski-County/Cabot-area folks might be missing out on this little jewel, I thought I'd remind you about the area's only Italian restaurant, Roma, in Jacksonville.

Mitt Romney holds a fund-raiser -- UPDATE

His raises $6.5 million.  That's about $6 million better than Mike Huckabee did with his Little Rock "gala."

The 'spectacular' new governor

Will Mike Beebe be a man of ideas, of transforming leadership, as well as a continuing master of process?

Targeting cell phones

Sen. Kim Hendren's SB 19 is a continuation of his effort to make driving safer by doing something about cell phone distractions.

How 'bout them Hogs!

They were "so close," like never before under Houston Nutt. Four losses to teams than ranked No. 1, 3, 4 and 5 in the final "coaches" poll, the USA Today poll.

Sacha Baron Cohen talks to the LA Times

for the first time as himself and not as Borat.

James Cameron's next project

No, it's not "Aquaman."  Here's the scoop. 

Alfonso Cuaron contemplates "the state of things"

in this interview with Filmmaker magazine. 

The complete "Top 10's" has compiled more than 250 lists into one chart.  "United 93" tops the list. - DGA Prediction Chart

Why is this important, you ask?  You have to care about the Oscar race, first of all.  The Directors Guild has accurately predicted all five of the Best Picture nominees for the past 4 years.  Here's a chart with some expert predictions.  The nominees will be announced at 10:00 a.m. Los Angeles time.

Inauguration in a tube

Says here that there will be a webcast of the swearing in of Gov. Mike Beebe at 10:30 a.m. this morning.

Inauguration in a tube

Says here that there will be a webcast of the swearing in of Gov. Mike Beebe at 10:30 a.m. this morning.

Small-biz lobbyist

The National Federation of Independent Business -- the small business lobby -- announces that Bill Phillips is its new chief lobbyist.

Directors Guild Nominations

Surprises! (ok, not really)Bill Condon -  "Dreamgirls"Jonathan Dayton/Valerie Faris - "Little Miss Sunshine"Stephen Frears  - "The Queen"Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu - "Babel"Martin Scorsese - "The Departed"Is this the nail in the coffin for Clint Eastwood and "Letters from Iwo Jima?"  Paul Greengrass is done for "United 93."  My longshot pick, Alfonso Cuaron ("Children of Men") didn't make it either.  I'm a bit surprised that "Little Miss Sunshine" helmers Dayton and Faris made it, but not that surprised.  "Little Miss Sunshine" seems poised to make the final 5 come Oscar time.  Bill Condon also got in - I thought he might get bumped.  Scorsese and Frears were locks from the get go.  And Gonzalez Inarritu and his great film "Babel" have been building momentum since the Golden Globe announcements.Don't be surprised if the DGA goes 5 for 5 again.  I never thought they would bounce Eastwood.  Never.  But they have.  "Letters" may have started a bit too late.  And with Oscar ballots due in only a few days, it may not be able to make it in after all.  Maybe studios will learn their lesson this year and they will stop waiting until the very end of the year to release a film.Of course, there is a part of me that wishes there's some virtue behind Eastwood's shut out.  That members of the DGA saw the transparency in the move to up the release of "Letters" to 2006 because "Flags of Our Fathers" was such a bomb.  What, poor little Eastwood can't handle a year where he's not nominated?  What about his pathetic streak from 1993 - 2002.  Not a decent film in that lot.  But in the end, not enough members of the DGA saw "Letters" before they voted.  Will the same happen with the Academy?Stay tuned . . .

Hey, Hollywood, cool it with the mismanagement

I've been bitching on this blog for a good two weeks about how Little Rock doesn't get many of the good movies released late in the year, but I'm also going to take to task Hollywood for not expanding the number of theatres in which certain films play.  In an ideal world, the "Eragon"- loving theatre managers, wherever they hide, would be forced to screen some of these good films.  Let's take a look at a few.  The most egregious offender is New Line.  They're the folks behind "Little Children."  After 3 Golden Globe nominations and several critical accolades (not to mention it's film by an Oscar-nominated director starring Oscar nominee Kate Winslet and Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly), the film is only showing in 103 theatres.  It's been out 14 weeks!  Not enough prints, my ass.  Warner Bros. comes in a close second for its handling of "Letters from Iwo Jima."  Ok, now I know Warners expected to be marketing "Flags of Our Fathers," but come on, if you're going to agree to show "Letters" in 06, then roll the thing out nationwide.  Stand up against "Dreamgirls" on Christmas Day all over the country.  You would be better off than you are today.  Instead, the film showed on 5 screens over the weekend.  Nice work.Warner Independent gets another high five for its handling of "The Painted Veil," the film most resembling something Terence Malick would have made and perhaps the prettiest film on screen.  It stars a couple of low key actors (Ed Norton and Naomi Watts).  It played on 72 screens in its third week.One has to wonder what the people at Fox Searchlight are doing with "The Last King of Scotland."  Forest Whitaker seems a shoe in for best actor, yet the film, after 15 weeks is playing on a whopping 8 screens.  Good lord, people.  If you thought the film was going to suck, why make it?  Fox Searchlight did roll out "Notes on a Scandal" to 93 screens this past weekend.   Granted FoxS has been a little preoccupied with "Little Miss Sunshine," but come on.  Can't the big stuido lend a hand.  After all, the best movie Fox made this year was "Borat."  After that, "Night at the Museum," "Eragon," "Flicka" "The Marine" and "Deck the Halls."  Yeah, I'd say they had some time.The funny thing (and why LR theatre managers should be begging for these films) is that each one generates cash.  People want to see these films."Little Children's" gross revenue grew 142.4% this past weekend (61 new theatres); "Notes on a Scandal" 171.5% (71 new theatres); and "The Painted Veil" 33.7% (35 new theatres).  "The Last King of Scotland" and "Letters from Iwo Jima" did not add any new theatres this weekend.

The new regime

Warwick's going to file a report from the Beebe inaugural any time now. Meanwhile some snippets from others: 1) One caller complained about the cost, noise and air pollution in mustering jets for a flyover at the public ceremony.

Gov. Mike Beebe

The new governor of Arkansas, Mike Beebe, took the oath of office in a packed House Chamber at the State Capitol around 11 a.m. this morning.

Westside shooter arrested

Mitchell Johnson, one of two youths who killed school children at Jonesboro’s Westside Middle School in March 1998, is  again in trouble with the law.

Brummett blog

John Brummett, Stephens Media's star political columnist, couldn't stand it any longer. Now he's blogging, too.

Turn your TV on

Comcast Arkansas will again be televising the Arkansas House of Representatives on Channel 18 this year.

St. Joseph’s appoints Gillham to Executive Director of Inpatient Services position

Kim Gillham, RN, BSN, recently accepted the Executive Director of Inpatient Services position at St. Joseph’s Mercy Health Center.

The Bank of Fayetteville Donates Washington Regional Capital Campaign

A gift of $100,000 from The Bank of Fayetteville will help provide funding for Washington Regional’s expansion project currently underway at the healthcare system’s North Hills campus.

St. Bernards Weight Loss Program covered by state insurance

The St. Bernards HMR medically supervised weight loss program has been designated as a program that is covered by insurance offered to state employees and Arkansas public school employees.

Program seeks volunteers to help elderly

Faith in Action is offering an Orientation and Training session for those interested in volunteering to help the homebound elderly and disabled.

The state of the state

Gov. Mike Beebe unveiled a program packed with tax cuts and credits and education ideas in a State of the State speech today to the Arkansas General Assembly. Read the complete text here.

Legal pork

I'm not saying it's intended this way, but House Speaker Benny Petrus' call yesterday to increase "turnback," or sharing state revenue with cities and counties, amounts to a legal, even rational, way to send state money to local purposes.

Blog watch

Checked out John Brummett's new blog yet? You'll want to.

GOP hands point fingers

Remember Marty Ryall, the good-ole-boy GOPer who once headed the Arkansas Republican Party? He's just been named campaign manager for Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher's re-election bid.

Home is where the campaign HQ is

NY Times today writes about Hillary Clinton's likely choice of Washington as the location for a presidential campaign headquarters.

Jodie gets a job

John Brummett is taking to this blogging thing. Top of his blog this morning is a scoop -- legislative lion Jodie Mahony, at last out of terms in Senate or House to seek, is joining House Speaker Petrus' staff along with former Speaker Bill Stovall.

Sex and 'Sherrybaby'

Maggie Gyllenhaal talk to the LA Times.

My, My

Looks like both Breckenridge and Riverdale are showing Zhang Yimou's "Curse of the Golden Flower" this weekend.  No word yet on what Rave is showing, but this is a step.  "Curse" is likely to be one the 5 nominess for Best Foreign Film.  The film stars Chow Yun-fat and Gong Li.  Market Street lists "The Painted Veil" as one of the films coming this weekend ("Curse" is the other - a coincidence?)

Whoa is me... another football season ends...

     Oh, dear baby Jesus, dear 8lb. 6oz.

State of the state

A quick report from Warwick after the state of the state on the specifics of the Beebe agenda: 1) A 50 percent cut in the state sales tax on groceries, beginning "now."

Have we tried 'strategic hamlets' yet

A mere 12 hours before Bush takes to the airwaves to escalate the Iraq war the AP is loaded up this morning with stories about a key Islamist leader "may have been killed" in Somalia and "15 insurgents killed" in Baghdad.Bush is counting on most Americans failing to recall those days in the late 1960s when LBJ would take to the airwaves to announce another escalation in Vietnam, and the news was filled with talk of winning the war by establishing "strategic hamlets" and increasing "body-counts" that were meant to reassure the populace that we were killing so many Communists that the combo of troop escalations and slaughter of the enemy would mean victory was just around the corner.But all of us are not that forgetful.

Remembering George Fisher

Mike Gauldin borrowed from the legendary George Fisher for his cartoon in this week's Times giving Mike Huckabee an appropriate send-off.

Not tonight, dears

Raw Story, quoting Alice Stewart, says Mike Huckabee won't announce his presidential candidacy tonight on the Daily Show.

Beebe wants to halve the grocery tax

So says John Brummett, trolling the halls for tidbits in advance of the State of the State speech.

Clint Eastwood on Fresh Air

discussing about everything, including his latest film "Letters from Iwo Jima."  Have a listen. 

This is what movie geeks do

Ask what the hell the folks at USC were thinking when they didn't nominate "Little Children" for a Scripter and how in the world the Academy is going to see all of the movies it has to see before the polls close on Saturday.   Sure, we debate the big stuff too - including why Clint Eastwood's a baby and why Chiwetel Ejiofor is one of the best actors working today.  We play favorites - Patrick Marber, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Spike Lee, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu  - to name a few and we mess with such nonsense as who will make the National Board of Review (it's the first).  This is not serious (except when we're talking about why we're not ready for the 9-11 films, or how Rinko Kikuchi was both brilliant and terrifying in "Babel").Lately, me and my band of movie geeks have been talking cinematography and writing.

State of the state

A quick report from Warwick after the state of the state on the specifics of the Beebe agenda: 1) A 50 percent cut in the state sales tax on groceries, beginning "now."

Wendell Griffen Oral Argument Tomorrow

For any of you true legal nerds out there -- if you want to see an interesting case come to the Arkansas Supreme Court ( 625 Marshall behind the Capitol ) tomorrow before 9:00 A.M. and you can catch Judge Wendell Griffen's appeal of his Judicial Discipline case.

The minimum wage vote

The House has approved a minimum wage increase to $7.25 an hour over two years by a vote of 315-116.

The A&P review committee

Mayor Mark Stodola has named the independent committee that will review activities of the Little Rock Advertising and Promotion Commission and its Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Here comes the opera

Little Rock is being added to the circuit of smaller cities where New York's Metropolitan Opera is screened on a movie screen.

Money matters

Yes he's good at rounding up gifts, but former Gov. Mike Huckabee raises questions about his ability to raise big money, important in a race for president.

The idiot

Open line for comments here. If you have to ask, you haven't been paying attention.

Beggar's Banquet

I never give money to homeless people. I always thought that giving money discourages work, is probably used to buy drugs and alcohol, and most of the traditional other reasons people justify not giving money to beggars.

St. Joseph’s names Frazier manager of Maternal Child Unit

Lisa Frazier, RN, BSN, was recently named manager of the Maternal Child Unit at St. Joseph’s Mercy Health Center.