Friday, April 29, 2011

P.S.- A Paramount/Stateside Affair. April 28, 2011

It was a Thursday night. Why not go to a party? There was one planned at The Paramount and its sister, the State Theatre. Called "P.S." (the initials of the theaters), it was a celebration involving a very special theme dear to my heart. One that has allowed folks like me to write blogs and share our voices to anyone who wants to digest what I have to say.

In short, the theme of the evening was networks.

No, not this kind of network. No one is mad as hell here...

Wait, not this network, either. But I'm pretty sure many are mad as hell about that specific one...

No, we're talking about social networks.

Okay, that's closer, but not so litigious.

It was a bash for bloggers, tweeters, and other social networkers. And it was all free with a mere RSVP. Partners in crime included: Gowalla, Austin Eavesdropper, Glitoris, Hey Cupcake!, Kohana Coffee, and Alison Narro Photography. The goal, as stated on the Paramount website, declared: "P.S. is about celebrating secrets, rebirths, interactivity, cupcakes and Austin’s affinity for free drinks."

Yes, indeed.
I got there at 6:30 and proceeded to the State Theatre. Now known as The Stateside Theatre at The Paramount, it was the starting point for all festivities. I was sure to check-in on Gowalla, and stood in line for my "personalized Paramount card," made for those who submitted the RSVP with their networking information. As I waited in line, friendly faces were passing out a free gift, a travel coffee mug with The Paramount Theatre logo. Oh, but what's this? As I open it up I find a lovely little surprise, a free sample of Kohana, a coffee brand from here in Austin. Très nice.

Yet the pleasant surprises did not end there; not by a long shot. Alison Narro photography was also on hand at Stateside snapping portraits of patrons. I got to the front of the check-in queue and was elated to see that I was not presented with a mere card. Instead, I received a badge, professionally created and complete with a crimson lanyard. Name and internet information printed on the front, exclusive deals printed on the back.

After socializing and partaking of free drinks, I moseyed on over to The Paramount next door. Outside was a Hey Cupcake! trailer, open for business. Something about the sight of that trailer just made me smile. Austin's a hell of a place to call home, and if the city strives to "keep austin weird," count me in.

Entering the Paramount lobby, I was sure to check in on Gowalla once again. More crowds meant more socializing. There was a nice leisurely atmosphere, with many sitting inside the auditorium visiting with one another. Others (who had not been into the theatre before) were clearly in awe of the breathtaking majesty of the place. I ventured upstairs and climbed all the way to the top. There I awaited a tour of the projectionist's booth. For a movie buff like me, that's where the magic happens. I've been dying to see it since last summer's film series, and today was finally the day.

I won't lie, I was fascinated to be in a projectionist booth that was nearly a century old. I was curious, yet deathly afraid to touch anything. Projectionist John Stewart (no, not of "The Daily Show") was a friendly and informative host, answering any and all questions the group had for him. As I took photographs, I felt a distinct sense of history that my DVD and BluRay collection will never possess.

After my tour, everyone gathered in the Paramount lobby to hear special announcements and witnes the awarding of door prizes. Tolly Moseley of Austin Eavesdropper expressed gratitude to the Paramount staff for involving her in the event. Paramount Web Marketing Associate Nick Barbieri took the mic and also warmly received the crowd. But then, something unexpected happened. Nick was talking about how The Paramount recognized the importance of social media and said that this party was partially inspired by an individual as well as the blogosphere at large. I was snapping away with my camera when he announced that person was me. It was a slow process to comprehend as I realized what was being said. My goodness, was I just recognized for the blogs? Were all eyes really trained on me? Humbly I made my way to Nick and the Paramount gang. I was given a gift bag of appreciation, and I waved at the masses in the lobby. It was a surreal but warm feeling, and I felt so honored and touched. I hate to blow my own horn (I really really try to avoid doing so), but this merit was just too significant and touching to not mention. Thanks, guys.

Ah, but the show went on.

Jesse Trussell, Paramount Film Programmer, took the mic and announced plans for the 2011 Classic Summer Film Series. He teased about several titles, and revealed that the kick-off party would have a very special guest: writer/director Peter Bogdonavich (The Last Picture Show, Paper Moon). Brooklyn Henson, Associate Director of Marketing, mentioned highlights of the upcoming 2011/12 season, whetting my appetite for future Paramount experiences. And General Manager Assistant Nicholas Saenz ignited the crowd with grand plans for the revitalized Stateside Theatre.

Needless to say, after all of that information, there was plenty to buzz about. The party continued on, and everyone was fluttering about like the social (networking) butterflies we were. Music was provided by Glitoris, which kept up a vibrancy to augment the accessible sugary sweets and alcohol. It was an amazing night I didn't want to end. After all the fun experiences, the accolades, and the new friends I made... it really was an affair to remember.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Coming Soon: RIO BRAVO by TCM Road to Hollywood

Is there a better venue around for viewing classic film? Judging from the longevity of The Paramount Theatre, not many can think of a better place. Austinites have long known the majesty of this movie palace, but now another cinematic pillar has given their own stamp of approval by selecting the venue for a very special screening. Turner Classic Movies (which easily happens to be my favorite TV channel of all time) is celebrating the history of Hollywood with a limited tour across the country, and Austin is one of the chosen. The film? Rio Bravo, the 1959 Western classic directed by Howard Hawks and starring John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson and Angie Dickinson.

Why are they doing this, you ask?

To celebrate their upcoming TCM Film Festival, where they exhibit vintage classics on the silver screen, the folks at Turner Classic Movies are travelling to ten different cities, taking their festival on the "road to Hollywood." Hosting the event here in Austin will be TCM's own Ben Mankiewicz. Consider it a live-action version of the insightful screenings found on the channel.

Not only do you get to: see Rio Bravo on the silver screen, see career-best performances from Deano and The Duke, enjoy Mankiewicz as host, and hear the powerful score by Dimitri Tiomkin (including a haunting use of the bugle call "El Degüello"), but there is a special guest. In attendance that night (for a pre-show Q&A) will be the legendary Angie Dickinson herself.

Need I say anything more? I thought not.

Want one last incentive? Okay. You asked for it. It's free. Go ahead and download your free pass here. But don't forget to get there early. The Paramount may host history on a nightly basis, but if you miss this one you'll surely regret it, pilgrim.

TCM presents Rio Bravo at The Paramount Theatre on Saturday, April 16th. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Red carpet is at 6:45 and the film begins at 7:30.