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Glendale / Burbank Focus

GLENDALE : Alex Theater to Show 'Gone with the Wind'

October 11, 1994|STEVE RYFLE

Though the Alex Theater's first year as a performing arts hub has been rocky, a group of local film enthusiasts is convinced the venue's future is anything but "Gone with the Wind."

In fact, members of the nonprofit Alex Film Society have slated a gala screening of the 4 1/2-hour 1939 MGM Civil War drama at 7 p.m. Nov. 17 as a kickoff for what they hope will be a revival of classic American films at the Alex.

"Seeing classic films in the Alex is like reliving them," said Brian Ellis, president of the film society and first assistant director of the NBC sitcom "Frasier."

"Our events won't be panned, scanned, colorized or cut for time like on TV, and seeing films at the Alex is vastly superior to viewing the tiny theaters of multiplex cinemas," Ellis said.

Organizers said the group plans to show popular musicals and dramas from "Hollywood's golden years"--the 1930s through 1950s. Plans are in the works for possible screenings of restored prints of "The Wizard of Oz" and "Doctor Zhivago."

Located at 216 N. Brand Blvd., the Alex's days as a movie house were over by the time the Glendale Redevelopment Agency bought it from Mann Theatres in 1991 for about $800,000.

After a $6.5-million restoration it was reopened as a venue for musical theater and concerts in January.

But Theater Corp. of America, the firm hired to book shows and run the operation, balked midway through the first year of a five-year contract and the city is suing the company and looking for a new theater manager. The theater is being run intermittently by the Alex Regional Theater Board, a nonprofit group.

Jeanne Armstrong, Glendale's director of redevelopment, lauded the film society as a group of "dedicated volunteers" intent on bringing movies back to the Alex.

She said the Redevelopment Agency helped the group locate equipment that had been put in storage after Mann Theaters closed the Alex, including a 35-millimeter film projector and a sound system.

Armstrong said there had been little discussion of showing movies at the Alex because when the Redevelopment Agency purchased the theater from Mann, it agreed not to screen movies on a commercial basis.

"The agreement has a covenant stating that we cannot compete with the Mann Theaters (in the Exchange, a nearby office and retail complex)," Armstrong said.

"But onetime screenings to benefit a charity or nonprofit group are allowed."

The Alex Film Society is busily working to get the theater ready for movie screenings in time for the Nov. 17 event. The original movie screen was removed during the theater's renovation and the film society and the Redevelopment Agency are reportedly buying a replacement screen for about $10,000.

Ellis said one of the best things about the return of movies to the theater is the price tag. Whereas tickets to musicals at the Alex have cost up to $35, admission to the movies will be $7.50.

Three screenings of "Gone with the Wind" are slated--Nov. 17 and 18 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 20 at 1 p.m. For information, call (818) 243-2539.

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