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Pete Allman's Celebrity Scene News

by Pete Allman

showestlogo_400ShoWest, the most prestigious and oldest convention and tradeshow for the cinema exhibition and distribution community, recently held its 2009 event in Las Vegas at Bally's/Paris. A diverse group of theater owners, content suppliers and celebrities attended to see the latest industry practices and technologies.

Despite the economic state of the world, ShoWest was well attended, and its participants seemed happy with the outcome.

A main feature of the four-day event was the closing night awards ceremony to highlight top film stars, as well as filmmakers and directors.

Female Star of the Year went to actor Rachel McAdams, and the award for Male Star of the Year went to Dennis Quaid. Supporting Actress of the Year was awarded to Sienna Miller. Comedy Star of the Year went to Bradley Cooper. Breakthrough Performer of the Year went to Zac Ephron.

Other recipients were honored: Zac Snyder, Director of the Year; Michael Caine, Lifetime Achievement Award; Michael Bay, Vanguard Award for Excellence in Filmmaking; Chris Pine, Male Star of Tomorrow, and multiple awards for Female Star of Tomorrow went to the cast of "Sorority Row." The cast includes Briana Evigan, Leah Pipes, Rumer Willis, Jamie Chung, Audrina Patridge and Margo Harshman.

siennamiller_400The Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmaker's award was presented to Michael Montgomery, Jerome Sable and Mary Murphy for their work on the movie based on the hit TV program, "So You Think You Can Dance."

Although ShoWest's final night's talent awards was superb, a previous award luncheon was particularly inspiring. It was the ShoWest NATO Luncheon honoring theater owners and operators from across the nation.

The afternoon spotlight was on film critic Roger Ebert, who received the ShoWest award for Career Achievement in Film Journalism.

Ebert, a cancer survivor who braved a long illness and recuperation from throat cancer to make an inspired re-emergence into public life, was in grand spirits. Ebert is recognized as the most prolific film critic in the history of journalism, according to award presenter, Michael Barker, Sony Pictures Classics co-president. Ebert is also the only film critic to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Barker and his partner, Tom Bernard, both agree that Ebert is the "conscience of the movie business."

Ebert, reflecting ShoWest's commitment, remains dedicated to recognizing independent filmmakers and even has his own film festival, Ebert Fest, which is held in Champaign, Illinois annually. It is considered one of the finest in America, according to his colleagues.

Other honors given during the luncheon included the ShoWest Triumph Award for Outstanding Direction presented to Kathryn Bigelow for "The Hurt Locker," and the Independent Award for Excellence in Acting went to Patricia Clarkson, who starred in Wood Allen's "Whatever Works."

During my visit to the ShoWest exhibition hall, several companies and technologies caught my attention. One of them was Scrabble Entertainment, an emerging company based in India that provides a service touted to make it easier for studios to release 3-D films. The company representatives also say that their digital platform advancements will help reduce film piracy, saving millions of dollars now lost to copyright infringement.

One of the most unique devices I experienced was a motion-sensory movie chair " a lounger-type chair that simulates the motion shown on the screen. For example, you get the actual feeling of being in a race car when that action is projected, like in the "Fast and Furious."

The chairs are already in use in some Multiplex theaters. They are located in the front rows with an additional charge for patrons of about $5 to $10.

ShoWest Stage for Charity

In addition to industry awards, professional networking opportunities and the technologies tradeshow, the ShoWest provided an opportunity for its participants to show support for a major charitable organization.

On April 2, World Autism Awareness Day, an announcement was made during ShoWest about the formal commitment by AMC Sensory Friendly Films to partner with the Autism Society of America (ASA), is the nation's leading grassroots autism organization helping children and families dealing with the neurological disorder. The goal for AMC is to include people with autism in their community through work and play, according to the press release by the ASA.

For nearly a year, the two organizations have brought a pilot program to communities across the United States, giving families affected by autism a chance to go to the movies together " some for the first time. Simply stated, the AMC will provide reduced-sound and lower-light films and theaters to aid children and adults with autism due to their difficulty tolerating high amounts of motion and light and their tendency to become over stimulated with certain sound levels. The modifications will allow families to enjoy a simple movie outing that others may take for granted.

The "sensory friendly" theater initiative is a good example of AMC's ongoing community service. Headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., AMC Entertainment Inc. is a leading theatrical exhibition and entertainment company, with a history of industry leadership and innovation since 1920. Today, the company serves more than 235 million guests annually through interests in 309 theaters with 4,628 screens in five countries.

ShoWest represents AMC and others in an industry that has helped America survive the Great Depression and other times of economic distress, because all forms of fun, family entertainment, especially going to the movies, is more popular and needed more during hard times.

KEYWORDS:ShoWest, cinema, theater, theatre, Autism, ASA, AMC, , AMC Entertainment Inc, sensory friendly, exhibit, convention, Las Vegas, Ballys, Paris, Roger Ebert, awards, Multiplex, 3D, 3-D, Sienna Miller, Chris Pine, Female Star of the Year, Rachel McAdams, Male Star, Dennis Quaid, Supporting Actress, Comedy, Bradley Cooper, Breakthrough Performer, Zac Ephron, Zac Snyder, Director, Michael Caine, Lifetime Achievement, Michael Bay, Vanguard, Excellence in Filmmaking, Tomorrow, cast, Sorority Row, Briana Evigan, Leah Pipes, Rumer Willis, Jamie Chung, Audrina Patridge, Margo Harshman, Coca-Cola, Refreshing Filmmaker, Michael Montgomery, Jerome Sable, Mary Murphy, movie, TV program, So You Think You Can Dance, Sony Pictures Classics