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The Year in Screen 

Spokane booed Cuba, boosted Terriers and watched its actors go to the bigtime

click to enlarge Cuba: slightly soberer than in his TMZ video from the Blue Spark
  • Cuba: slightly soberer than in his TMZ video from the Blue Spark

THE YEAR SPOKANE PROTESTED CUBA
Gooding Jr. Between 2006 and 2009, the Oscar-winning actor came to Spokane to shoot three separate films. Most of these films failed to make a dent in the box office (or even find a theatrical release), but Cuba sure made an impression on Spokane.

Rumors swirled about running up bar tabs, hitting on one or a dozen women at a time, yelling “show me the money” until way after it had ceased to be funny. That sort of thing.

When he returned in 2010 to film The Hit List in February, the Facebook page KEEP CUBA GOODING JR. OUT OF SPOKANE was waiting for him. With over 800 fans (and, as of last week, still growing), the page became a clearinghouse for Gooding gossip and sightings. Most were gripes about poor tipping and lewd conduct. Many were almost certainly false accusations (“Cuba wrinkled my Randy Travis poster, pissed the seat and hid my keys”), albeit hilarious ones. Most notably, a grainy video of Cuba at the Blue Spark surfaced — one that began with the actor drunkenly slurring, “Show me the money,” and ended with,” Drink it up! And God Bless the U.S.Aaaayyyaaay.” That one ended up on tabloid website http://www.TMZ.com. (LB)

LOCAL ACTORS LAND NATIONAL TV ROLES
“Cheyenne Jackson is so hot right now” was the focus of our December cover story last year. But in 2010, if anything, Broadway actor Cheyenne Jackson — from Newport, Wash. — has become even more well known. Jackson continued to make random appearances on 30 Rock as a kind-but-dim-witted-and-tragically-Canadian character. But this year, in what may be a bigger coup, Jackson was cast as the coach of the New Direction glee club’s arch-rival, Vocal Adrenaline, on Glee. Yeah, that Glee. Meanwhile, Gonzaga alumnus Jeff Rosick plays the major role of Buddy Garrity Jr., the son of a passionate football booster, on the excellent Friday Night Lights. Rosick also had a very small role in The Social Network, as my favorite character, Dorm Room Guy No. 2. Soon, perhaps, we won’t be bragging about Craig T. Nelson being from Spokane anymore. (DW)

MAGIC LANTERN CLOSING/OPENING
The Magic Lantern Theatre set a new record this year for closing down and reopening. Long the area’s only art house cinema (it’s now one of two theaters, along with AMC 20, that regularly screen independent films), the Lantern has deep roots in Spokane, despite often not staying open for very long before shutting down.

Joseph Davis bought the theater in mid- 2009 after it stood fallow for about a year, having closed in June 2008. Things seemed to be going fine until Oct. 20 of this year, when he sent media outlets an email with the somewhat melodramatic subject line “No schedule for the Magic Lantern ... this week or any other.”

The “or any other” part of his email, though, was quickly redacted. He reopened the theater a week later, under the management of Zana Morrow. By our calculations, this stands as the quickest closing/reopening of a theater with a history of closing and then reopening. (LB)

’TWAS THE YEAR OF BETTY WHITE
It began with a decent Super Bowl ad in a sea of awful Super Bowl ads.

“Mike, you’re playing like Betty White out there,” a dude tells his buddy, Mike (Betty White), after a particularly weak play of pickup football.

Suddenly, the world demanded the Betty White it never before knew it needed. She was drafted into hosting Saturday Night Live by a half-ironic Facebook campaign. She made guest appearances on The Middle and Community, and starred in the creakingly-traditional new TV Land sitcom Hot In Cleveland.

Betty White’s appeal was simple:

88-year-old white woman defies her age, race or gender. She raps. She plays football. She says naughty things. In other words, “Honky Grandma Be Trippin’.” (DW)

GLEEMANIA ROCKS AMERICA
By now, with Glee dominating the radio and television airwaves, it’s easy to forget just how loony launching a scripted musical was. Previous attempts — Cop Rock, Viva Laughlin — were cringeworthy failures.

But Glee’s cotton-candy carnival energy and heavily-produced pop-song renditions have entranced audiences with a hypnotic beat, even as its chaotic inconsistency of tone, character, and quality have driven TV critics quite mad.

Glee premiered in 2009. But 2010 was the year it became ubiquitous. The Glee cast has now passed the Beatles for most appearances on the Billboard 100 list, which, by the transitive property, makes them bigger than Jesus. (DW)

JON STEWART AND STEPHEN COLBERT RESTORE SANITY/MANTAIN FEAR
It’s good to be King Jester.

On Oct 30, the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, comedian-in-chief, addressed an adoring crowd in front of the National Mall. And while he could have told them to rise up, to overthrow their enemies, to change the country or even to vote, instead Stewart’s message was simpler, and, perhaps, even more needed: Maybe you could argue nicer. Maybe you can admit that not everybody is Hitler.

It’s easy to forget that this had all began with fans demanding Stewart and Stephen Colbert spoof Glenn Beck’s conservative weepy-serious “Restoring Honor” rally. CBS estimated the size of Glenn Beck’s rally at 87,000. Stewart’s and Colbert’s rally? 215,000. (In Spokane, at Riverfront park, about 200 people gathered for a more partisan rally thrown by the Spokane Democrats.)

Sometimes — in both quality and the impact — the cover bests the original. (DW)

THE "SAVE THE TERRIERS" DEBUT CAMPAIGN DEBUTS IN SPOKANE; DOESN´T SAVE TERRIERS
Blame the name. Blame the marketing. Blame the quirky laid-back early episodes. Blame the viewing tastes of the American public. But when Terriers — a noir-ish show about low-rent unlicensed private investigators from the writer of The Shield — premiered on FX, it bombed hard. Instantly, stars Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James knew if their show wanted a chance for a second season they’d need to fight for it. Logue’s idea: A countrywide college tour in a pickup truck. Since Logue was in the neighborhood — buying a pickup truck from Dave Smith Motors — he e-mailed The Inlander, and we made his first impromptu stop Gonzaga University.

As Terriers aired its season, FX upgraded Logue’s pickup truck to a tour bus. Did it save Terriers? Nope. Despite critics grabbing the American public by the shoulders and begging them to watch, Terriers was canceled. I blame Gonzaga. (DW)

SEE YA, WII
For better or worse, we are living in a post-Wii world. Every videogame system must now be motion-sensitive. It’s no longer entertaining to merely push buttons and wobble one end of a joystick. The sales success of Nintendo’s 4-yearold machine indicates that a large percentage of today’s gamers want to get up off their sofas, march their feet and wave their hands. But while the Wii and the PlayStation 3 both require special handheld controllers, Microsoft has resuscitated its 6-year-old Xbox 360 with some powerhouse software. The result — Kinect — is the first controllerfree videogame controller. The technology is enchanting: just wave your hands or talk out loud and the machine recognizes you. It tracks players’ actions down to the twist of a wrist and the shuffle of a foot, and is a good indicator of where home entertainment is headed. Before long we won’t just be watching our TV sets. They’ll be watching us. (MD)

WAR GAMES
For those of you who are unhappy about America’s ongoing military operations, here’s a cheerful thought: While approximately 200,000 Americans risked their lives in the Middle East last year, 2 million more people sat on their asses and risked nothing. Instead, they played Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. This year, the sequel has captured even more hearts and minds. In just six weeks, Call of Duty: Black Ops ascended to the top of the gaming chart to become the best- and fastest-selling videogame of all time. With more than $1 billion in sales, Black Ops is also more profitable than America’s ongoing war. And as far as I know, it has caused no actual deaths. (MD)

SHOOTING PIGS. WITH BIRDS
Way back in 2003, Nintendo published a GameBoy game called WarioWare Inc.: Mega Microgames! in which Wario made a fortune by selling quick-and-cheap games to gamers eager to play something, no matter how mindless. Years later, Wario’s visionary economy has become a reality. Apps for iPods, iPads and iPhones have launched a trend in which software publishers can have a hit with the kind of game that would be too simplistic on any other system. Among the releases, Angry Birds has emerged as a genuine Susan Boylesized phenomenon, with more than 50 million downloads to date — most of them in the last year. The creators of Angry Birds, a Finnish company named Rovio, have figured out how to merge the rudimentary controls of an iPod with the sophisticated strategy of a videogame. Here players to shoot angry birds at annoying pigs. It’s been such a hit that this microgame has gone bigtime, with a release on the major gaming consoles coming in the new year. (MD)

click to enlarge year_in_review_header.jpg

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