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Performing live: It's a high

Actors' panel touts the stage over movies. `Deliver Us From Evil' gets a standing ovation.

June 26, 2006|Robert W. Welkos;Betsy Sharkey;John Horn

Given their choice of projects, actors will often take a stage performance over a movie. Why? The nearly indescribable feeling of elation that comes from performing live.

Director Rodrigo Garcia ("Nine Lives") moderated a coffee talk at midday Sunday at the Geffen Playhouse about the craft of acting. On the panel: Christina Applegate ("Anchorman," "Married With Children"), Kathy Baker ("Nine Lives," "Nip/Tuck") and Joe Mantegna ("Nine Lives," "House of Games").

The actors contrasted the rush of doing a play or musical with the sheer exhaustion and feeling of depletion that can often follow a long day on a TV or movie set.

"It's true," Garcia remarked. "If you visit actors behind stage after a play, they're floating."

"Even if it didn't go that great," Mantegna injected, drawing laughter from the crowd of about 100 people.

-- Robert W. Welkos

**

Documentary delivers

When it comes to movie premieres, I'll take the documentary crowd any day. No red carpet. No stars to speak of. No paparazzi. Just one lone guy with a video camera hovering outside the Majestic Crest theater Saturday night for the premiere of "Deliver Us From Evil," one of the documentaries in competition at this year's Los Angeles Film Festival.

The model-thin, with their towering platforms and shorts and shrugs, were there of course, but they were the ones who seemed out of place.

More typical was Cheryl Revkin, president of the Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce, who you might think of as an early adopter, someone who wants to be on the front end of the wave of those seeing socially relevant films. But tonight she found herself in the standby line just hoping to get in to the sold-out show.

"This is the second venue tonight that's been sold out," she said. Revkin had tried to get tickets online to "Deliver Us" and "A Leonard Cohen Evening," but was directed to the box office, only to find there were no tickets left. "I guess that means the festival's doing well."

Inside, it was director Amy Berg's night. In a diaphanous, latte-colored tea-length confection, she beamed and hugged friends and seemed truly surprised and grateful that so many had turned out to see her film.

Sobs, groans and uncomfortable laughter punctuated the screening of "Deliver Us," the story of Oliver O'Grady, a former priest and now convicted pedophile, and the 20 years he spent being bounced from one Central California parish to another (see related story on Page E1).

Videotaped depositions by officials of the Roman Catholic Church, including Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles, drew the strongest response as derisive snickering rippled through the hall.

The film closed to a standing ovation from most of the crowd, and when Berg stepped to the microphone for a Q&A session afterward, one voice from the back of the theater shouted out, "Thank you." But all that paled compared with the reception given to the victims who joined Berg.

For Ann Jyono, participating in the film became a way of healing, she said.

"For me to go from being a child who was never going to say anything to anyone ... to being here in front of you, it's a major step forward," she said, wiping tears from her eyes.

When her father, Bob, took the microphone, he quickly broke down. "I did it for all the victims out there," he said finally. "I did it for all of them."

Betsy Sharkey

**

Digitizing the way

It's been seen by more than 25 million Internet users. It's been commented upon some 25,000 times. The latest "Superman Returns" trailer? The best Jon Stewart monologues? The worst World Cup soccer referees?

No, it's "Evolution of Dance," comedian Judson Laipply's low-tech (one-camera, no editing, muffled sound, shaky follow-spot) performance of every dance step, from Elvis Presley to Outkast, that Laipply can perform. So is this oddly mesmerizing six-minute video (on YouTube and at www.evolutionofdance.com) a glimpse into the future of entertainment distribution? Or a freak of Web-based word-of-mouth marketing?

"Traditional middlemen are out of the middle," marketing consultant Peter Broderick said in the keynote address of the Los Angeles Film Festival's opening panel session Friday, "The Revolution Will Be Digitized." Broderick's pronouncement may be true -- filmmakers now can shoot everything on their HD cameras, sell DVDs out of their garages, and, like Laipply, post their shorts on the Web, where more people watch than saw "Poseidon."

Panelists agreed the times were indeed changing. The LAFF has its own middlemen, of course -- programmers decide which movies get in and which don't. And studios and independent distributors still decide which few films will be released in theaters.

But Intel's Clickstar has backed director Brad Silberling's "10 Items or Less," which it hopes to distribute into PCs; YouTube is stuffed with an array of great original (and, it must be said, infringed) content, and the download site BitTorrent will soon launch a movie service. So the sands may be shifting, but then, all theaters were supposed to be equipped with digital projectors by 2002, so we'll see what happens.

-- John Horn

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