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Hot August Nights test case
by Harry Spencer
Jul 30, 2010 | 1114 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
At the end of next week’s Hot August Nights local celebration, we will get to see if this year’s move to open HAN at South Lake Tahoe had any impact on the financial benefit of HAN to Reno-Sparks.

The firestorm that broke out recently regarding the announcement that in 2011 HAN will begin in Long Beach, Calif., then move up to South Lake Tahoe again and eventually wind up in its original home port of Reno-Sparks still has not subsided, although it has dropped off the radar for the time being. The reason for that is all parties concerned in the controversy are hoping that this year’s version will not be impacted by the inflammatory headlines and letters to the editor during the past six or seven weeks.

Given the sluggish overall economy in the country, particularly in Nevada, there are some who say that this year’s celebration might not equal some of those in the past — particularly monetarily.

The last news coverage on the imbroglio that surfaced this year was that the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority (RSCVA) requested that HAN CEO Bruce Walter attend an RSCVA board meeting to state his case. Walter declined to attend, noting he was too busy getting this year’s event going. The RSCVA has invited him to attend its next scheduled meeting, which will occur after the conclusion of HAN.

According to the statement released after Walter attended a Reno City Council meeting about the matter, Walter said he was willing to sit down with the council and discuss a multi-year contract. Many of the individuals involved in the matter — from both sides — say they feel so much damage already has been done that such a future compromise faces a very rocky path.

University football

According to the Western Athletic Conference coaches and WAC media, Boise State is still the favorite to capture the football title this year with the University of Nevada, Reno ranked to come in second. National sports publications have the Broncos ranked much higher than WAC counterparts and some have the team even getting a chance at the national title. The reason for the rosy prospects for Boise include the fact that it virtually has its entire starting line-up and bench returning from last year’s team. Also, the Broncos have an extremely impressive bowl record over the past few seasons, causing some polls to rank them as high as fourth in the national standings. Their opener against an equally strong Virginia Tech team could set the tone for the entire season.

One thing is for certain: There will not be much wailing and gnashing of teeth from Boise's WAC cohorts when the team move to the Mountain West in the 2011 season.

World premieres

Many local cinema buffs are wondering why there is not a movement to have the world premiere of the Joe Conforte flick, “The Love Ranch,” held in the city of Reno. In the past, they note, Reno theaters were routinely called upon for such screenings.

The most notable one was that held for “The Misfits,” arguably the most famous film ever shot in the area because of the magnitude of its stars: Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift.

The fact that the author of the screen play, Arthur Miller, had based his film on a short story he had penned when he was in the Biggest Little City for his divorce was another plus for first showing the film here.

Another Hollywood legend that lent great glamour to the production was noted director and actor John Huston. Also, the picture was the most expensive black and white film ever shot up to that point in time.

Because of the many delays caused by Monroe’s frequent absences, a fierce forest fire that shut Reno down and the fact that Miller and Huston routinely re-wrote the next day’s scenes over dinner in the Mapes Coach Room on a regular basis, the entire company spent a lot more time here than was originally planned. That long extension not only benefited the Mapes, where the company was housed, but gave Reno all sorts of international publicity since the members of the World Press showed up in town to do stories on the epic.

Now, some 50 years later, “The Misfits” is a staple on cable TV and may well have been viewed by more people than any black-and-white movie every produced. “Wizard of Oz” probably holds the Technicolor record for viewership.

In addition to “The Misfits,” other notable films that premiered here include the “Downhill Racer,” which starred Robert Redford and Gene Hackman, and “Let’s Make Love” starring Monroe and Yves Montand. TV-wise, the most famous program that had its world premiere here was “Bonanza,” which screened its first two episodes at the former Granada theater and drew all of the original cast for the event.

Whether or not “The Love Ranch” is a flick worthy of the big time has yet to be proven since its initial screenings have been extremely low-key, particularly the very private showing that was held in Reno a few weeks back. Since three very famous names are associated with “Ranch” – Helen Mirren, Joe Pesci and director Taylor Hackford – it would seem the picture would have a better-than-even chance of doing well at the box office.

Harry Spencer is a freelance writer in Reno. His column about the past and present of northern Nevada appears weekly in the Tribune.

Editor’s note: Opinions expressed in Harry Spencer’s column are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tribune.
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