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Area native, Hollywood star Ashley Judd to kick off Paramount's movie series

Aug. 11, 2008 @ 09:51 PM

 Ashley Judd will visit the Paramount Arts Center to christen the Paramount's new movie screen and projector. This very special event set for 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 5 will include a cocktail party hosted by Ashley, a film screening of a classic movie and dancing on stage afterward. And guests are encouraged to dress in their favorite movie costume!

Tickets are $20 for the film and dancing afterwards.
Tickets are $100 for a cocktail reception from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Movie costume or cocktail attire for the reception that is limited to the first 200 people.

“We just want our guests to have fun with this concept,” said Tyson Compton, marketing director of the center, and chair of the event. “Like me, so many people in the tri-state first entered this great building to see a movie. And people are always asking when we will show movies again. Well that day has arrived! And we think it’s a pretty big deal, especially with Ashley Judd as our hostess for the evening. How incredible is that? It isn’t every day that you have the opportunity to attend a cocktail party on the Paramount stage with one of Hollywood’s leading ladies!”

Compton went on to say that while costumes are by no means required, wearing them would just be in keeping with the festive atmosphere of the evening. “After all, you could wear just about anything and it could be labeled a costume,” he said. “Whatever it takes to connect to your favorite actor or movie character.”

For the screening, Ashley has selected one of Hollywood’s most famous romantic comedies, It Happened One Night, starring Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable. Directed by Frank Capra, the film won five Academy Awards, including Best Actress, Best Actor (Gable’s only win), Best Director, Best Picture and Best Screenplay.  The film is famous for several classic scenes and Premiere Magazine voted it as one of “The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time.”

“We are especially excited about showing this film,” Compton said, “since it is from the era of when the Paramount first opened. Ashley felt it was important to select a great classic, something really amazing for the reintroduction of pictures at the Paramount.”

Most of us have fond memories of "going to the movies" at the Paramount Theater. Opened in 1931, the beautiful venue was the largest movie theater in the Ohio Valley and the first built specifically for talking pictures. Closed in 1972, the theater was saved from the wrecking ball and transformed into the Paramount Arts Center. Unfortunately, that change meant the end of movies at the Paramount. In order to show films, a large, fixed installation screen is required. And that was basically impossible to have with performances taking place on the stage. Until now!

Thanks to Congressman Hal Rogers and funding from a National Scenic Byway grant through TOUR SEKY, we are proud to announce the return of the silver screen to the Paramount. With this funding, we have purchased the largest motorized, retractable screen available. Measuring twenty-one feet high and twenty-eight feet wide, it has been installed at the front of the stage and simply drops down when ready to use.

Much as it has from the Paramount's very beginning, Fate continues to play an integral role in the events here. “When first contacted, Ashley not only expressed her interest in being involved, she graciously offered to serve as hostess for the event,” Compton explained. “And who better to christen our screen than one of Hollywood's most talented and beautiful actresses? However, she could not confirm for our original date which was to be later in the month and informed us that she was only available on September 5. This was absolutely amazing in light of the fact that the first movie ever shown at the Paramount was at Opening Night on September 5, 1931!”

It is as if the date chose us. It is also interesting to note that the groundbreaking for the renovation of our stage house took place on September 5, 2000. “We literally got chills as we discussed this,” Compton said. “Fate had to be involved because we couldn’t have managed that if we had tried.”

The staff, volunteers and film committee have worked to make the event a special occasion, and as unique as possible. “We really want those who attend to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Compton said. The evening will conclude with dancing to movie themes and songs from film soundtracks.

While the emphasis of the night will definitely be on having fun, it is serving as a fundraiser as well. “We are very grateful to TOUR and Congressman Rogers for providing the initial funding for the screen and projector,” said Kathy Setterman, executive director of the Paramount. “The money raised from this event will help to secure additional equipment that we need as well as provide for future film projects.”

While the Paramount will not be showing first run films, the opportunities for what will be available are many and varied. “We have already partnered with Southern Arts Exchange, based in Atlanta, to present the Southern Circuit Filmmakers Tour,” Setterman explained. “This series will allow the viewer to see the latest in award winning documentaries then meet and talk with the filmmaker afterward. All of the filmmakers will be on hand when their movie is shown. We are also looking at working with students and perhaps having a You Tube video contest. Of course we see screening some of the great classics like Gone With The Wind and Casablanca.”

Setterman remains very excited about the future possibilities. “It just took my breath away the first time I saw an image on the screen,” she said. “I know that the community will respond very favorably to this addition. And the way this event has evolved, with Ashley Judd taking a personal interest, and screening this great classic film just shows how magical the movies really can be.”

“Ashley has been most gracious in working with us on the entire concept,” Compton added. “It is obvious that she has a great love for film and is very excited about being part of this event that will re-introduce movies to the Paramount. And she cares very much about our community as well. She has insisted on taking care of her own expenses. Since this is a fundraiser for future film projects, she wants all the money raised to stay with the Paramount. For her to take time out of her busy schedule to serve as hostess for the evening just speaks to the type of person she is – talented and beautiful, yes, but just as importantly, she is kind, caring and giving.”

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