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With Spy topping Hollywood's box-office charts this weekend, Melissa McCarthy becomes the latest woman to head a major box-office hit in 2015. And while that merely puts her in good company this year, it's hardly been common in the past.

film movie
Flickr Photo/StudioTempura (CC-BY-NC-ND)/https://flic.kr/p/64xwT6

The American Civil Liberties Union recently launched an investigation into gender bias at the major Hollywood film studios.

Seattle's film industry is much smaller than what you'd find in L.A. But where women directors and producers are the exceptions in Hollywood, in Seattle the industry is dominated by women.

Seattle's Office of Film and Music is headed by a woman, Kate Becker. Amy Lillard, a film industry veteran, has directed the state film office, Washington Filmworks, since 2007.

Ross Reynolds interviews James Redford, director of the documentary "Paper Tigers" that debuted at the Seattle International Film Festival.

The films tells the story of how Lincoln Alternative High School in Walla Walla, Washington, was plagued with unrest until they adopted a new trauma sensitive approach program. It’s had spectacular results with keeping kids in school and raising graduation rates.

The film includes footage shot by the high school students at the school. Redford is the co-founder with his actor father Robert Redford of the Redford Center.

Ross Reynolds interviews Ryan Harvie, co-director of a new documentary called "Bodyslam: Revenge of the Banana."

Between 2003 and 2009 a group called Seattle Semi-Pro Wrestling was packing dive bars in Seattle with gonzo wrestling performances. Characters like Ronald McFondle, Eddie Van Glam and The Banana were cabaret fighters, spoofing wrestling pros. 

When the final episode came, after weeks of accolades and tributes to his genius, David Letterman made sure he punctured the emotion of the moment with a little old-fashioned, self-deprecating sarcasm.

Jennie Reed rides during qualification for an individual pursuit race in London on Feb. 18, 2012.
Flickr Photo/Marc (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Seattle-area resident Jennie Reed thought that after a world championship and two Olympics, she was ready to end her racing career in track cycling.

But when a fellow racer asked her to be part of the first-ever women's Olympic cycling team pursuit event, Reed decided to answer the call.

From the beginnings of the Mad Men phenomenon, many of the show's fans wondered if superstar adman Don Draper was destined to write one of the iconic advertising catchphrases of the time.

So it's a testament to the skills of show creator Matthew Weiner that some regular viewers were still surprised by the show's series finale Sunday, which implies that Don invented the classic 1971 Coca-Cola campaign, "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke." This, after he concluded a long, soul-searching trip through America with a trip to a California yoga retreat.

After 26 seasons of giving life to nincompoops, do-gooders, and even God, actor Harry Shearer has announced he'll be leaving The Simpsons. A stalwart of the show, Shearer has voiced central characters such as Ned Flanders, Mr. Burns, Reverend Lovejoy and Principal Seymour Skinner.

In a tweet sent in the wee hours of Thursday, Shearer said he was leaving "because I wanted what we've always had: the freedom to do other work."

Not far from the glitzy Mediterranean film festival venue of Cannes lies another town with a connection to cinema. There are no stars or red carpet, but La Ciotat has an even longer relationship with film, and boasts the world's oldest surviving movie theater.

A filming of the show "IN Close" last year. Due to recent changes, the show will switch from a 30 minute broadcast to shorter, online stories.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Ross Reynolds talks with KCTS president and CEO Rob Dunlop about the Seattle PBS affiliate's plan to cut its TV production staff and focus on telling stories online.

An Orca performs at a SeaWorld location in 2008.
Flickr Photo/Jeff Kraus (CC-BY-NC-ND)

John Hargrove was an orca trainer for 14 years, mainly at SeaWorld. Shortly after quitting the company he gained attention for his part in the documentary "Blackfish." The film chronicles conditions at SeaWorld theme parks and the death of Dawn Brancheau, a SeaWorld trainer killed by an orca in 2010.

Patton Oswalt
Flickr Photo/Jason Carlin (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Patton Oswalt is an American writer, actor and comedian. You may have read one of his books, seen him on film or television, heard him as the voice of Remy in the movie "Ratatouille" or become one of his millions of followers on Twitter. The L.A. Times called him “the dean of nerd comics.”

On this episode of Speakers Forum, Oswalt reads from his new book "Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film." He calls it “the dorkiest addiction memoir ever.” 

Seattle Arts and Lectures presented this event featuring Oswalt at Town Hall Seattle on Jan. 31. He was joined on stage by George Meyer, a producer and writer for The Simpsons. Thanks to Jennie Cecil Moore for this recording. 

A cast of characters from Washington’s TV and film industry descended on Olympia Tuesday seeking an expanded tax credit for the film industry.

A still from the trailer for "Kill Team."
YouTube

Marcie Sillman talks with filmmaker Dan Krauss about his new documentary, "The Kill Team." The film features the story of Private Adam Winfield, who attempted to warn the military of war crimes against innocent civilians in Afghanistan. He later plead guilty to involvement in a killing and was sentenced for three years in prison.

Cheryl Stumbo at TEDx Seattle in 2013.
Flickr Photo/TEDx Seattle (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman interviews Cheryl Stumbo, the subject of a short documentary film called "The Accidental Activist" premiering at Seattle's Jewish Film Festival. Stumbo became an activist for gun control after being wounded in the 2006 shooting at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. 

film movie
Flickr Photo/StudioTempura (CC-BY-NC-ND)/https://flic.kr/p/64xwT6

Marcie Sillman talks with Washington Filmworks executive director Amy Lillard about a legislative proposal that would increase the amount of tax incentives for film productions in Washington state.

Hike, outdoor, A trail marker designating the Pacific Crest Trail.
Flickr Photo/Dan Hurt (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks with Jack Haskel, Pacific Crest Trail Association's Trail Information Specialist, about the impact that the book and recent movie, "Wild," is having on the PCT.

When the Oscars are handed out on Sunday, the red carpet, the ceremony, the films and people who are honored, will be all about being seen. But there's a group of actors who will never be seen on screen. They're only heard — and barely.

Loopers are voice actors whose work begins after the show or film is shot and edited. Their job is to record what people in the background of a scene could be saying. Their dialogue is never really heard at full volume — and it's mostly ad-libbed.

File photo of Seattle skyline.
Flickr Photo/clappstar (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman speaks with The Stranger's David Schmader about the movie version of the bestselling book, "Fifty Shades of Grey." Both the book and the movie are set in downtown Seattle.

Our "Tools of the Trade" series is taking a look at some of the iconic objects that form a vital part of our educational lives. For an upcoming piece, I'm reporting on how young children learn through that most basic of preschool education tools: simple wooden blocks.

The Sundance Film Festival wrapped up last weekend. For more than two decades, the festival and the Sundance Institute have been a springboard for independent filmmakers. This year, two of its darlings — Boyhood and Whiplash — are nominated for an Academy Award in the best picture category.

Today marks the return of a cult public television hit — Foyle's War. It previously appeared as part of PBS's big Sunday night Masterpiece lineup, but it won't be on TV tonight. For now, viewers will have to stream the show digitally. Acorn, the company that produces Foyle's War, has embarked on something of a Netflix strategy — raising the question of whether a niche pay portal can be a going concern.

A Sniper's Look At 'American Sniper'

Jan 23, 2015

The Oscar-nominated film “American Sniper” has been an unexpected hit at the box office; it’s already grossed over $100 million so far. The film, which tells the story of Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, is also finding fans within the sniper community.

Former Marine Scout Sniper Chris Mark tells Here & Now’s Robin Young that the film helps to counter the perception “that, you know, we’re lonely men that hide in the shadows and kill for a living.”

Lawyer Derek Karpel thought The Interview would be a horrible movie after reading some of the reviews, but told reporter Julie Walker that his opinion was a bit different after he saw the film on Thursday at Cinema Village in New York City.

"It's not a great movie — this is not Kubrick, this is a stupid Seth Rogen/James Franco movie," he said. "With that said, they were still very funny. I thought it was well done."

Web developer Nick Doiron, who was at the same screening, said he thought that the film lived up to the hype, and that the audience seemed to agree.

It is, perhaps, the worst nightmare for those of us constantly trying to get a white-dominated Hollywood to widen its doors of opportunity for people of color: All those executives who say the right things in public and give to the right causes, just might think something much less admirable about diversity behind closed doors.

When an Abu Dhabi film company, Image Nation, asked filmmaker Tom Roberts last summer to come up with an idea for a documentary about polio, he was flummoxed.

A limited number of venues across the country will show the film “The Interview” tomorrow. Ark Lodge Cinemas in Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood is among them. Owner David McRae made the choice to run it.

FCC Proposal Would Boost Internet TV

Dec 24, 2014

The Federal Communications Commission is proposing a technical rule change that will make it easier for the Internet to compete with traditional TV and cable channels.

In essence the agency wants to broaden the definition of a pay-TV provider, so that on-line video streaming would be treated in the same category as cable or satellite TV and video, as long as that on-line service is provided by a company that also offers a traditional TV channel.

When Beth Barrett was a girl, she and her mother had a Christmas ritual.

"My mom and I would watch 'The Sound of Music,'" says Barrett, now director of programming for SIFF, the organization that produces the annual Seattle International Film Festival. For her, the holidays weren't complete with this familiar cinematic ritual.

Flickr Photo/GeekGirlCon

She was the nasal-voiced puppeteer behind Red Fraggle on Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock, and she hung out with David Bowie on the set of Labyrinth.

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