An Arkansas story, captured for all time

By Tim Smith

Where A r [ts]Thou?


With strong ties to Northwest Arkansas, you can only imagine how excited I was to learn that in the race for 2021 Oscar recognition for best picture, the listing includes one that features a story set in Lincoln, Arkansas, a community located southwest of Fayetteville and part of the Northwest Arkansas corridor.

The first report that I received was from a Rogers, Arkansas television station, 40/29 News, that posted the following:

“Lincoln, Ark. – A film set in Lincoln, Arkansas, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture Monday, [March 15th] morning. “Minari” tells the story of a young Korean couple who moved with their kids to Arkansas in the 1980s.

“It’s an American story. It’s an Arkansas story. It’s really a universal story. The fact that the filmmaker is from Arkansas, it’s very special. We have a very vibrant film industry here, and we have a lot of stories that need to be told internationally. I think it’s important that Arkansas is very much on the map,” stated Ashley Edwards with the Bentonville Film Festival.

My hats off to the film commissions, chambers of commerce and other business and industry leaders from that area of the country for having the long-term vision to develop the climate where filmmakers, and those that support them, can create these new works.

Upcoming: I invite you to return next week as I will present the next tribute to the Class of 71– Drury University, Springfield, Missouri, my alma mater, and update you on the latest from Carne Golf Links in Western Ireland as they labor mightily to get the course ready for the 2021 Irish PGA Championship.

During a recent ‘ZooMeeting’, I learned that the European community is having increased challenges, and this will only add another level of concern to these good folks.

That’s My Will, Rogers: For March 23rd, 1934: This caught Will’s attention, and how timely, from Hollywood, Cal: “Those old Wall Street boys are putting up an awful fight to keep the government from putting a cop on their corner. You don’t hear as much . . . as you used to. With all the new-fangled things they have for breakfast nowadays, you don’t hear much of ham and eggs as you used to either, but it’s still mighty good eating. Yours, Will Rogers.”

Broadway Reopening Series: Last week, I shared my personal ties to the 1948 Broadway musical, “Where’s Charley?” and that relationship included my meeting with its Tony Award winning star Ray Bolger.

Mr. Bolger happened to be performing at a famous Chicago venue, the venerable Empire Room at the Palmer House, during the very early stages of production, and as an early birthday present, my parents took me to see his one-man show. I had written him a note saying that I was going to be in attendance, and was not only surprised that he received it, and remembered it, but we then met backstage where he graciously spent nearly a half hour visiting with me.

Before you ask, no, I did not ask him about “The Wizard of Oz.” What was I thinking.

Anyway, in the book, “More Than Just A Scarecrow,” author Holly Van Leuven devotes an entire chapter to “Where’s Charley?” and the impact it had on the theatre community as it was a key ‘player’ in the evolution of a new style of musical theater presentation, the featured or star turn.

EFA’s Town: The iGen[eration]: Discussion point: The Oscars: When I asked our youngest son who is a film and theater guy, (a chip off the much, much older block for sure) about the recent listing of Oscar nominations in all categories, I was taken aback, slightly, that he recognized only a few names, especially in the more prominent acting and visual effects categories.

Entering, stage left: I spoke at great lengths with a long-time friend, civic leader, fellow educator and arts colleague from Arkansas right after the Oscar nomination came out, and I could hear the pride in his voice as we discussed this renewed focus on the area that he had labored for decades to develop.

We got to reminiscing about how, in the early '80s, we worked together on a film commission project for the state of Arkansas, especially highlighting it’s Northwest Corridor, with film industry leaders in Los Angeles. I was living there at the time, and as I was trying to break into the business, it provided me with insights that would have taken a long time to acquire.

One never knows when a connection will be made, a dialogue will be started, and when those singular efforts are combined with others over time, they may lead to results that might not be realized for years to come. To all who were a part of that process, congratulations.

Mark Twain once commented: “But not many would think of that. They would think of it next day, but that is the difference between talent and the imitation of it. Talent thinks of it at the time. “

Connections made, locally inspired, in our town, since '06.

See you in the local paper.

t A s

[For EFA-62]

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