Another major motion picture will shoot in Richmond. Protect your livers 

Street Talk

"Hannibal" Set to Film in Richmond
Virginia Museum to Improve Eyesore
Welcome to Amelia, Gateway to Richmond
Is TV Really Democratic?
If You've Got a Spare Two Million ...
Carytown ABC Tops Price-Per-Gallon List
XL-102: 'Onion' Stinks
"Hannibal" Set to Film in Richmond

Note to craft service personnel: Break out the fava beans and Chianti — and watch your back.

It's all but assured that "Hannibal," the highly anticipated sequel to 1991's "The Silence of the Lambs" will begin production here in the next few weeks, shooting through September. Kendal Thompson, commissioner of the Richmond Film Office, confirms that location scouts have been in town for months, scouring medical facilities, coroners' offices, the State Capitol and other locations for the production. Now they're booking office space downtown, a sure sign that the film is on the active list. "It's just been green-lighted by Universal, and we're most happy with this," Thompson says. "The Virginia Film Office does the real hard-core marketing effort to get the productions in the door, and we've worked closely with them. From what we understand, the majority of the film will be shot in Richmond."

Jodie Foster, who played FBI agent-in-training Clarice Starling in "Silence," won't be among the cast this time; her well-publicized bail out came in November after she rejected several rewrites of the Steven Zaillian screenplay. Helen Hunt, Angelina Jolie and even Calista Flockhart were considered, but Julianne Moore signed on for the female lead last week, starring opposite Anthony Hopkins. Ridley Scott is set to direct.

"Silence" won the top five Academy Awards despite its grisly subject matter. In the latest Thomas Harris novel, Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter is even more gruesome — and darkly comedic: "Whenever it was feasible, he preferred to eat the rude. 'Free range rude,' he called them."

No word on qualifications for extras.

Deveron Timberlake

Virginia Museum to Improve Eyesore

Robinson House will get a makeover thanks to some newly released state funds, and its caretaker hopes to raise private donations to make interior improvements, too.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts spokesman Suzanne Hall says the three-story, cream-colored 1860 farmhouse — like the 1856 cannon ("used in the defence of Fort Sumter") also behind the museum, one of the oldest relics still standing in the city — could be restored and used as office space: "We very much need it."

And while "eyesore" may not be too harsh a word to describe its present state, "tearing down a building with that kind of character ... was not a solution from our perspective," Hall says. "It is a mess and we will receive drawings [this week] from the architects to stabilize it." The $250,000 project will include removing the lead-based exterior paint, restoring the original brick and preserving the long-decayed woodwork and window trim.

Hall says Robinson House and the surrounding property became part of a park dedicated to Confederate veterans in 1882 and became state property in 1940. The house was transferred to the museum's care in 1993 and used most recently as offices for the Virginia Association of Museums, which decamped in 1996 due to health and safety concerns for its employees.

- Rob Morano

Welcome to Amelia, Gateway to Richmond

The federal government has been redefining metropolitan areas for Census 2000, and guess what? Richmond now includes Amelia and King William counties. Welcome, folks!

U.S. Census Bureau Geographer Paul Mackun says the two additions raise the Richmond Metropolitan Area's number of localities to 13. Actually, make that the Richmond Macropolitan Area, he says. No, the name change isn't because we're bigger, but because of new criteria that drop the use of "metropolitan" altogether. (Now there's three sizes: micropolitan, macropolitan and megapolitan.)

Amelia County Administrator Paul Vannoorbeeck and King William County Acting Administrator Terri Hale say they think the change will be a net positive for their communities. "It's a big deal to us out here in a rural area," Vannoorbeeck says. Now that they're on the federal map, he and Hale hope more subsidy funds and economic development dollars will be flowing their way — the way they say increased suburban development and commuters have been.

But as far as heretofore Southside tobacco and dairy farmers identifying themselves as Richmonders: "Some people may not see that as a positive."

— Rob Morano

Is TV Really Democratic?

Hooded and masked police in riot gear marched forward, firing explosive canisters of tear gas and spraying machine-gun fire into the crowd. Briefly they scattered and regrouped again, only to be driven back by more gun fire, more tear gas and the grim whack of a baton in a scene you'd think was from Tiananmen Square.

Think again. These images came from downtown Seattle, U.S.A., ground zero of the World Trade Organization (WTO) protest late last year.

These harrowing images came to Richmond's Grace Street Theater last Wednesday, Feb. 16, in a video presentation by Jon Stout, program director for Free Speech TV, a self-proclaimed progressive media outlet based in Boulder, Co.

The hour-long video was a compilation of five half-hour news programs broadcast by Free Speech TV during the WTO protest Nov. 29-Dec. 3. Stout brought his presentation to Richmond to demonstrate the claim by Free Speech TV that the mainstream media inadequately covered the protests by concentrating on the violent fringe element and by packaging their news the way corporate ownership told them.

"If you watch a lot of TV, if you listen to mainstream radio," Stout says, "you might have the impression that democracy is alive and well." Most mainstream radio, television and print journalism is owned and controlled by corporations, Stout says, corporations which are merging into larger companies with greater concentrated power at an alarming rate. He offered, among several examples, the recent merger of AOL and Time/Warner, which owns the Cable News Network (CNN).

Stout brought the presentation to Richmond to promote efforts by Free Speech TV to get more channels and air time; efforts, he says, which have been largely blocked. He says independent media outlets such as Free Speech TV are necessary to provide a balance of news coverage.

The protesters at the WTO convention chanted Stout's message on film as they faced rubber bullets, explosions and beat-downs: "This is what democracy looks like. This is what democracy feels like."

To learn more about Free Speech TV and Free Speech Internet Television, visit their Web sites at www.fstv.org and www.freespeech.org, or call (303) 442-8445. For news on the WTO protest, visit . For media criticism, visit the Web site for Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) at www.fair.org, or The Media Channel at www.mediachannel.org.

- Wayne Melton

If You've Got a Spare Two Million ...

We knew it was a seller's market, but the price tag still caught our eye: $1.9 million for a house on Monument Ave. What intrigued us more, though, was the fact that the 1908 brick behemoth has been in the seller's family since it was built.

Selling the family castle? How Richmond is that?

Todd and Holly Jenkins of 1839 Monument say the ancestral home just doesn't fit their active, three-child lifestyle. Impeccably maintained and plenty spacious at 10,000 square feet, the Colonial Revival house can't accommodate the Jenkins' yacht or race cars, and they plan to build a dream home on property along the Chesapeake that can. Just don't question their local loyalties: Holly Jenkins grew up riding motorcycles on the vast timber tracts her grandfather owned in Chesterfield County, and Todd Jenkins' grandfather's name long graced the L.H. Jenkins book bindery on Broad Street.

On the market since December, 1839 Monument could set a high-water mark for home sales in the city. While in recent years two houses on the river side of Cary Street Road have broken (barely) the $2 million barrier, Realtor Doug Dorsey of Long & Foster thinks the historic interest of the Jenkins' property could create a bidding war that sets a new record.

- Rob Morano

Carytown ABC Tops Price-Per-Gallon List

ABC Store sales are up over last year, and Richmond did its part.

ABC spokesman Jennifer Farinholt says the department's soon-to-be-released 1999 annual report shows the Richmond area's 34 ABC Stores sales did $51.9 million of business in fiscal 1999, up from $49.3 million in fiscal 1998.

The city's Southside Plaza store did the most business, with $2.3 million in sales, but the Carytown ABC Store on Thompson Street got the most money-per-gallon of booze sold.

"That generally tells us people are buying more top-shelf products" at that store, Farinholt says.

Are they ever: The Carytown ABC Store (which offers only six dedicated parking spaces — out back) did a whopping $1.9 million in business, making it the toniest tonic-house in the city.

Carytown ABC Store Manager Pat Atkinson says his fewer customers simply bought more expensive booze: designer vodkas, single-malt Scotch whiskeys and pricey cognacs carried most of the load, he adds.

One customer carted off an order of more than $6,000 in the latter libations for a wedding last year, Atkinson says. "And he came back for more (cognac) after the honeymoon."

But even Carytown customers have yet to order the priciest item their ABC Store has to offer: a bottle of Hennessy Richard cognac listed at $1,726.95.

- Rob Morano

XL-102: 'Onion' Stinks

Who says Richmond radio isn't on the cutting edge?

WRXL-102.1 FM, which last summer was among the first handful of stations in the nation to pick up The Onion Radio News, a syndicated feature of satirical comedy, has become one of the first to put it on the chopping block.

Program Director Brian Illes says the daily 30-second segments just didn't translate The Onion's humor very well from print to broadcast, and early-morning brains aren't the best at detecting the subtle humor of those that did.

The Onion, a Wisconsin-based parody newspaper, last year also produced a best-selling book, "Our Dumb Century," containing mock front-pages with hilarious headlines ("World's Largest Metaphor Hits Iceberg" for the Titanic's sinking; "Pretentious Goateed Coffeehouse Types Seize Power in Russia" for the 1917 revolution; and "New President Feels Nation's Pain, Breasts," for, well, you know.)

- Rob Morano

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