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Metro Pulse Cinema Stars

Knoxville's last two surviving jewels from the golden age of moviegoing find a new lease on life.

By Coury Turczyn

OCTOBER 26, 1998:  The room is almost painfully bare, with little adornment on the walls other than electrical switchgear manufactured by companies long gone out of business. It's built like a square pillbox of bare brick, with only a few narrow openings set in one wall. Black metal shutters hang over each hole; over a half-century ago, these shields were wired to automatically slam closed if a fire broke out, quickly sealing the room—now they're just fragments from a bygone era, never to be used again.

But some equipment here is still in operation: two hulking devices that crouch near the wall, whirring and huffing with life, aiming their lenses through the portholes and into the grandly ornate auditorium of the Tennessee Theatre, which seems almost a world away. For it is here, in this small, dark room of antique mechanisms and dusty memories, that magic is created—celluloid strips are threaded through a maze of gears, xenon lamps are struck, and a white beam of light sends out the images of our waking dreams onto a screen more than 100 feet away.

The keeper of this temple is Bill Burns. Slim, dapper, ever-alert to the inner-workings of his '50s-era Cinemascope projectors, he has overseen the Tennessee's projection room for the last 14 years. But that's nothing but a few frames in a career that has spanned 69 years, from the flammable nitrate stock of silent pictures to the widescreen glories of Cinerama to his current post at this most magnificent movie palace. The 80-year-old Burns has personally witnessed the history of the cinema unreel before him, the light of a thousand movie screens reflected in his twinkling eyes.

"I started at the Lyric Theater in Ashland, Kentucky when I was 11-years-old—a little neighborhood theater," he says in his polite, country-tinged voice, a smile creasing his face at the memory. "And at the time I started, it was nothing like this. The film then was nitrate, and if you had a break, you had a fire, simple as that. The projectors were open, so if the film broke it would invariably go into the lamphouse and catch fire. So you'd have to put it out, light the thing off, throw the film down, lace it up, and keep on going. It was really interesting, to say the least."

With that, he chuckles and shakes his head, as he usually does when telling his stories. Suddenly, though, he looks up. "Excuse me!" he calls back as he races over to the light-board in the room down the hall. "Got to work the spot." The ethereal sound of a distant organ has wafted its way into the room, as if a ghostly echo from the performance of another show long ago, greeted by an equally spectral applause.

In reality, the muffled sounds mark the beginning of tonight's entertainment: A performance of the Mighty Wurlitzer to be followed by a showing of the sophisticated Audrey Hepburn classic, Breakfast at Tiffany's. As the red and gold Wurlitzer makes its phoenix-like rise at stage right, Burns hits the spotlight, illuminating Dr. Bill Snyder at the keys. Once more, an audience is treated to a cinema ritual that only a rare number of moviegoers can recall, and even fewer can enjoy today. But it is still here with us, in downtown Knoxville, even as the Tennessee Theatre marks its 70th anniversary with plans for multi-purpose growth and new renovations.

That the theater has made it this far, still intact and showing movies after 70 years of fickle public tastes and poor urban planning, is nothing short of miraculous. Likewise, a few blocks down Gay Street, the Bijou Theatre is finding new life, undergoing an extensive refurbishment to make it a more modern facility. Both theaters are the last remaining jewels from a bygone era, when downtown Knoxville had no less than seven theaters at one time offering a variety of amusements, from Vaudeville acts to Broadway shows to the musical debuts of soon-to-be-famous country stars like Roy Acuff. But it was the movies that ruled at a time when they meant more to people than simply another way to kill a few hours; for some, they were the world itself.

Most of downtown's theaters were torn down in the name of progress, when suburban living and television made such large movie houses seem antiquated—who would ever need them again? Both the Tennessee and the Bijou faced the wrecking ball at low points in their histories, deemed worthless for any practical use. Now, ironically, they are the best chances downtown Knoxville has to reinvigorate itself as a place to find entertainment, from movies to plays to music and beyond.

A Gala Opening

September had been an unusually cool month for Knoxville in 1928, with temperatures hovering around 65 degrees. But on the first of October, the crowds surrounding the newly completed Tennessee Theatre probably weren't thinking much about the chill morning air. Awaiting them on this atypical Monday was something so grand it was nearly beyond imagination, an event they'd been anticipating for months: the opening of Knoxville's one and only true movie palace, a spectacle for the eyes, advertised as "The South's Most Beautiful Theatre." Could it be true?

The giant movie house was financed by Paramount's Publix Theater corporation at an estimated $1,000,000—a cost that put every other theater in the Southeast to shame (though at that very moment, Fox was erecting a sizable movie palace itself in Atlanta). For Knoxville, it was a miracle, the crowning glory to a thriving theater scene downtown.

Up the street at "The Shrine of the Silent Art," the 1,006-seat Wurlitzer-equipped Riviera was screening Dolores Costello in Glorious Betsy, a Warner Brothers picture about a girl who falls in love with Jerome Bonaparte—Napoleon's lesser-known brother. Over at the Lyric—previously known as the Staub, built way back in 1872—there was the epic Wings, a thrilling drama about World War I flying aces accompanied by a 12-piece orchestra with special effects and projected in triple-screen Magnascope. The more humble Strand was showing The Butter and Egg Man, with Jack Mulhall as a young playwright who gets mixed up with crooked showmen. And way out on Cumberland near the university, the Booth had the romantic Love Along the Danube, a Pathé flicker about a peasant girl who falls in love with a young baron—until a hunchback violinist screws things up.

Unfortunately, the Bijou wasn't playing any movies at all—and was forbidden to for the next five years. The previous owners, Tennessee Enterprises, were also developers on the Tennessee Theatre—and required in the terms of sale that the property not be used "for any theatrical and/or amusement purpose of any nature and kind." It would leave the Bijou darkened for years to come. But this wouldn't dampen the public's excitement for the new enterprise at hand.

"Today's the Day!" declared the ad in that day's News-Sentinel, with an illustration of a comely showgirl marching amid giant soap bubbles, one bare leg raised provocatively above her head. "Everybody happy? You bet! The new Tennessee opens today! Watch the crowds come! Hear them talk tomorrow...Whatever you're doing today, put it off! See the great opening. Follow the crowds to the Tennessee Theatre."

While SRO crowds would no doubt fill all 2,000 seats at the evening shows, a sizable throng nevertheless managed to find good reason to skip school and work for the matinee at 3. People started lining up along Gay Street shortly after 11 a.m., a burly doorman protecting the main entrance from curiosity seekers who wanted to sneak inside for an early peek. At 12:30, however, he stepped aside as the box office opened for business, manned by two women attired in matching maroon smocks; the first ticket went to 17-year-old Knoxville High student Walter "Cotton" Clark (sold to him by his sister Evelyn; a curious coincidence?).

One by one, impatiently giving their pasteboards to the ticket-taker waiting inside, the expectant patrons made their way into the Tennessee's two-story high, half a city-block long lobby—and discovered a fantasy land previously witnessed only in larger cities at such theaters as the cathedral-like Roxy in New York or the French palatial Chicago Theater. Five huge chandeliers patterned after those in the Palace of Versailles cast a golden glow onto the green and coral terrazzo floor, dangling leaded crystal prisms that sparkled in the light. The visitors found their gaze swept up by the twin carpeted stairways on each side of the lobby, leading to a mezzanine level for the balcony. Overlooking their arrival at the head of the stairs was an Egyptian priestess made of Italian carrera marble, one of several European antiquities shipped in from the continent to decorate the theater. On the walls were Moorish-style onion dome designs, while over the main entrance appeared European shields, a curious mix of styles that certainly intrigued.

Finally, at 2:45, the crowd was allowed to break the tape across the lobby and at last file into the main auditorium, guided by a crew of 16 ushers in brand new cutaway uniforms. As they sank into their leather seats, moviegoers couldn't help but take in the 55-foot high domed ceiling with its dancing lights, from green to red to blue. Standing guard atop the dome's cornice were stern griffins, and along the walls were vases filled with glass flowers. The stage's cove-lit proscenium arch was magnificent, marked by medieval coats of arms, a lion, a horse, and a castle. It was enough to distract ticket-buyers from the actual entertainment: First, a performance on the $50,000 "golden-voiced" Wurlitzer by Miss Jean Wilson, then the stage band Don Pedro and His Melody Boys presenting "Joy Bells," followed by a Vitaphone "specialty" called "In the Mines" (Vitaphone features provided sound by cueing up a record player in sync with the film—in this case a quartet of singers in a coal mine), and then a Movietone newsreel. The main feature of the program was Clara Bow's The Fleet's In, wherein the "The It Girl" played a hostess in a San Francisco nightclub who falls in love with a "gob." All this for 40 cents or less, depending on your seat.

It was a glorious day, to be remembered for a lifetime. At last, Knoxville had its own grand palace, where anyone with pocket change could feel as if they were its lord for a few hours. Surely no one could have predicted that a day would come when such a dream-like creation would be shuttered and empty.

When Gay Street Lived Up to its Name

Down the street, the new owner of the Bijou Theatre might very well have been stewing over the fact that he was forbidden to compete with the Tennessee for the next half-decade. But Alfred Shearman had other ideas of property development; the Bijou's seats were pulled out and the building was rented out to the Mahan Motor Company, which used it to store secondhand cars. Out front, the entrance became the Bijou Fruit Stand.

Fortunately, that was the worst of it, and in 1932 the theater returned to its entertainment roots—for the Bijou had a famed history of providing live shows. Actually composed of two buildings, the Lamar House (which fronts Gay Street) was originally constructed in 1817, going through several different permutations until, in 1908, ground was broken to convert it into the Bijou Theater at a cost of $50,000. Its grand opening on March 8, 1909 was no less auspicious than the Tennessee's would be, debuting with George M. Cohan's Little Johnny Jones, a hit Broadway musical that introduced such tunes as "Give My Regards to Broadway" and "Yankee Doodle Boy." Although understated in its decor, the News-Sentinel noted that the 1,500-seat Bijou "...is pronounced by theatrical architectural experts to be one of the best constructed and most conveniently arranged houses in the entire south."

David Harkness was a young man from Jellico when he came to Knoxville in the fall of 1930 to attend UT. But he soon availed himself of all the live theater to be found on Gay Street, such as the African American production of the Broadway musical Green Pastures at the Lyric ("I went backstage and told Richard B. Harrison, this marvelous African American actor, 'I can't tell you, sir, how much I enjoyed your portrayal.'"), and then later the Peruchi Players at the Bijou, a repertory group that brought back "amusement" to the theater in 1932. They sparked a long run of impressive stage productions at the Bijou, including touring shows featuring some of the biggest names of the day. Harkness attended every show he could.

"These companies would be on tour from New York and they brought down wonderful sets and costumes—we thought we were in New York when we saw these productions. They were so very exciting," he recalls. "Through the years, they had the big stars, like John Barrymore in My Dear Children. Then I saw Ethel Barrymore there in The Corn is Green, in '43 or '44, which was later made into a movie with Bette Davis, and of course, that was really absolutely great—I'll just never forget it. Ethel was such a great actress. I saw Clifton Webb in that wonderful comedy The Man Who Came to Dinner, and then another one was Louis Calhern and Dorothy Gish in Life with Father. And then Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne were there in that World War II drama, There Shall Be No Night, and in the cast were Sidney Greenstreet—the 'Fat Man,' remember?—and, I believe, though I don't have the program here, Montgomery Clift."

Harkness, who eventually became UT's director of library services in the division of continuing education, can readily reel off the names of former stars and now-forgotten hits that appeared in Knoxville, shows that he saw and those he missed, like Ziegfeld's Follies with Fanny Brice at the Tennessee. In 1935, the Bijou became part of the Paramount Pictures distribution network, and thus began showing second-run movies after the Tennessee, including Vaudeville entertainment in the mix as most theaters did.

"Your movie houses were the Riviera and the Strand on Gay Street, and over on Market Square the Rialto, and then on Union, the Roxy—no relation to the Roxy in New York!" says Harkness. "They had live entertainment then—and somebody said, 'Yes, live entertainment: bugs, roaches, and rats.' But it was wild. There were these two comedians at the Roxy, and people would say 'I bet you've been to the Roxy—you heard some of those jokes at the Roxy.' That was really something."

In the '40s, during and after the war, moviegoing hit its highpoint in Knoxville, with people seeking escapism during those troubled times within downtown's darkened theaters.

"People went to the movies—there was no television—that's what you did," says Walter Baumann, former president of Woodruff's Inc., now a member of the Historic Tennessee Theater Foundation board and a lifelong historian of Knoxville's theaters. "The Tennessee was doing so well—when I was at UT I would take a date and go to the Tennessee Theatre, and it was always crowded—sometimes you'd have to line up all the way to State Street. They'd have several hundred people for a matinee, and they had a feature at 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 and then close a little after 11. So did the Bijou, the Riviera, the Strand—they were all doing business."

All Good Shows Must End...

However, even as the Tennessee continued to thrive over the years—offering big movies and live entertainment like Helen Hayes in Mary of Scotland, cowboy star Tom Mix and his horse, Desi Arnaz, Glenn Miller and his band, or Donald O'Connor—time was taking its toll on its competitors. By the '50s, Knoxville's downtown was in decline, with potential audiences taking flight to the suburbs, mesmerized by the burgeoning new entertainment medium of television. One by one, the theaters closed or were torn down: The Rialto (a.k.a. Crystal) in 1946, The Strand in 1949, The Grand in 1950, the Gay in 1958, The Roxy in 1959. The Lyric—Knoxville's very first theater when it opened as the Staub in 1872, the stage that hosted all three Barrymores as well as Sara Bernhardt—was demolished along with the 800 block of Gay Street by the Cleveland Wrecking Company of Cincinnati, which boasted of "tearing down more than 50,000 buildings all over the country, including the fabled Hollywood Hotel for a parking garage." In the case of the Lyric, it was just for a parking lot.

The attractive Riviera, built in 1920 and the first movie theater in Knoxville to have sound, held out the longest, surviving a massive fire in 1963. But it finally shut its doors in January of 1976, its last movie being Adios Amigo with Fred Williamson and Richard Pryor. "We regret this decision, but the theater business is in the suburbs," the owner commented. After plans for "ultra modern offices," a dinner theater, and even a Krystal burger joint in 1984 fell through ("We have no firm plans. We're waiting to see what they do to downtown," said a Krystal spokesman, who might still be waiting), the Riviera was razed in 1987 for a 21-space parking lot—a last minute effort to save its facade failing.

The Bijou faced an even worse fate—by 1965, the former home to the Knoxville Symphony and the Knoxville Opera Company was reduced to showing what the new Atlanta-based leaseholder called "adult art films," more commonly called porno movies. According to the unchanging marquee, it offered "The Finest in Adult Entertainment," with strip shows every Friday and Saturday night. What's more, the Lamar House was now the LaMarr Hotel—with hourly rates and a clientele of prostitutes. Tim Burns, who worked at the theater after it was purchased by Knoxville Heritage in 1976, made an odd discovery when cleaning out the hotel's former office.

"We actually found some of the old ledgers—they kept hourly attendance," he remarks. "And you know when they had the highest attendance? On weekdays, five days a week, at the noon hour and at 5 o'clock. Honest to God."

By 1969, the city had had enough of this embarrassment, and a court ordered the hotel closed, citing its many convictions, warrants, and indictments for prostitution. Its owner—now Alfred Shearman's aged sister—wasn't involved with the Bijou's management and was apparently unaware of the theater's programming. Upon her death in 1971, she bequeathed the scandalous property to none other than Church Street Methodist Church—which hastily sold it. In 1975, the theater was finally closed due to unpaid rent and amusement taxes. Although added to the National Register of Historic Places that year, it seemed very likely that the Bijou and the Lamar House were doomed. However, Knoxville Heritage, a preservation group, launched a massive "Save the Bijou" campaign which scraped together enough money to purchase the building for $275,000.

At the same time, however, the Tennessee was doing poorly itself. After a last surge of glory in the '60s, with the world premieres of All the Way Home with Robert Preston and The Fool Killer with Anthony Perkins, the movie palace was reduced to playing B-grade action flicks like A Piece of the Action. ABC Southeastern Theaters pulled the plug in November of 1977: "(It) was a business decision based on economic conditions and changing times," said ABC's general manager, who went on to comment that the Tennessee would most probably become a parking lot in the face of modern competition like the company's new flagship, the West Town Mall theater (which became, yes, a parking lot in the late '80s).

Potential tenants made their pitches, with one wanting to use the famed lobby as a flea market, tearing out the staircases for more room; another one intriguingly wanted to convert the theater into a "bluegrass music emporium." But coming to a temporary rescue was a new company named Tennessee Theater Classics, chaired by UT economics professor Dr. George Spiva, who aimed to turn the Tennessee into a revival house. "We're not trying to get rich, we're trying to keep the theater from falling apart," said Spiva, and on March 15, 1978 the theater reopened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a showing of Grand Hotel.

By October 6, it was closed again due to nonpayment of rent. And this time, it might very well have been for good except for the generous checkbook of one man.

Back To Life

Tim Burns carefully climbs his way up the spindly catwalk atop the Tennessee's dome ceiling, treading on creaking wood planks in the dim light as he points out the hundreds of steel strips stretching from the building's roof to the topside of the theater's plaster ceiling.

"Steel bands holding steel ribs, then cross-ties going across that, then wire mesh, two coats of plaster, and a finish coat on top of that," says Burns, now the Tennessee's technical director and resident tour guide. "Basically, this theater was made in Chicago, sent down by rail, and simply assembled—that's how they built it in 11 months. All the interior walls, all the massive structure that you see, is illusion. A lot of those big columns are hollow or pipe chases. It takes a lot of the romanticism out of the theater, but it's a fantasy land. It's like being in a movie set, where they have those false fronts.

"Basically, you could come in here and completely gut this interior and have four walls and a door."

And that could very well have happened had it not been for James A. Dick, owner of WIVK and Dick Broadcasting. Although local promoter Bob Frost had managed to reopen the theater in late '79 with good success, he was unable to renegotiate his lease a year later with its owners, the C.B. Atkin estate, who thought they could manage it themselves. However, Dick offered to buy the theater and the Burwell Building outright for $1.1 million in June of 1981, and started to refurbish the famed theater that September—rewiring, replastering, repainting, and recovering. For the next 15 years, the Tennessee hosted everything from the Mulls Singing Convention to the Knoxville Opera—which kept the theater active in community life, but never quite tapped its full potential.

In March of 1996, Dick decided to give away the theater to the city of Knoxville, hoping this would insure its future as a public institution. But Mayor Victor Ashe turned down the generous offer, deciding that the city couldn't get into the theater business unless it had a $2.5 million endowment, adding that he felt the theater truly belonged in the private sector. And, although his decision shocked the Tennessee's advocates, it turned out for the best. Soon after, the Historic Tennessee Theater Foundation was formed, a non-profit organization headed by Bruce Hartmann, publisher of the News Sentinel. One of the group's first acts was to hire Ashley Capp's AC Entertainment to manage the theater, and it was a fortuitous choice. Capps, who had been promoting shows at the Tennessee for the past 10 years, had loved the theater since his childhood visits in the '60s and had lobbied for the job of bringing it new life.

"The Tennessee needed a promoter. It needed someone who could create events and actively bring in events, and it's going to need that forever," says Capps. "That's the thing I really see lacking in some of these historic theaters in other communities—for a venue like this to be passively run and still have an impact on the community is almost impossible. That's what we brought to the table that has been missing—entrepreneurial spirit, I suppose. It just needs that commitment: 'Wow this'd be a really cool thing to do, let's do it.' And it's really as simple and as complicated as that."

Last year, the Tennessee attracted 155,000 visitors to downtown with shows that have indeed been "cool," from the reinstitution of classic movies series to shows by modern pop artists like Harry Connick, Jr. or performances by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. This month's shows by such performers as Herbie Hancock and Bill Cosby have not only celebrated the theater's 70th anniversary, but also mark the first steps in a performing arts fund campaign that Capps vows will bring in a wider range of programming. "At this point the theater is only doing about 150 events a year," says Capps. "In theory, we could double the number of events we're doing and double the number of people coming downtown." This would mean more fine arts programming, such as the Peking Opera, the Gamalon Orchestra from Bali, a bona fide jazz series, or national children's shows.

More importantly, the foundation has also been researching how to renovate the theater, hiring restoration experts Hardy, Holzman, Pfeiffer Associates to conduct an architectural study of the building's possibilities. Three levels of renovation have been suggested, ranging from $11.66 million to $19.2 million, involving everything from cosmetic improvements to patching bad plaster to restoring the pipe organ to expanding the stage and orchestra pit. This last addition could greatly benefit the KSO and KOC, who both have to squeeze into the Tennessee's relatively shallow 26 foot deep stage, and could bring in bigger touring shows of theatrical productions. However, that would mean taking up at least one lane of State Street behind the theater.

"There's basically three different plans, and we're looking and seeing which of these is the most realistic," says Capps. "Once that decision is made, then we have to raise the money to do it. At that point it's really up to the community—it's going to have make a decision as to what role they want to see the Tennessee play and how important downtown development really is.

"We've got a really unique venue that's part of the past but also could serve much the same role in the future. Why do people come downtown? You don't magically appear downtown unless you live here—you come because there's something you want to see. As far as nighttime activities, the Tennessee and Bijou are the two major reasons anyone would come downtown. So the theaters are catalysts in the sense that where people go, other businesses follow. I know that The Great Southern Brewery and Tomato Head are impacted, especially on weeknights, by events at the Tennessee Theatre. I think the community is going to be behind it when they realize this is an investment, not merely with cultural rewards but with fundamental economic rewards. "

A New Bijou

Over at the Bijou, that community backing was evident in the theater's own fund drive for renovations, which are currently underway. In the main auditorium, a forest of scaffolding sprouts from floor to ceiling, a layer of dust covering every possible surface. Jay Dunlap, the Bijou's chairman of the board, trudges his way through the warren of sawed-off two-by-fours and new ductwork, expertly weaving his way into the lobby. One of the owners of Merit Construction, the renovation's contractor, stops to tell him about the building's newly revealed hand-hewn joist beams, and then mentions that "these have got to be the toughest bathrooms we've ever built!"

"I'm certain of that," Dunlap chortles. "It was very difficult to find the space." The space is, in fact, where M.S. McClellan & Co. used to sell fine men's wear. Now it will be sacrificed to the relief of patrons, but it's just one of many changes in store for the aged facility.

For the past four years, a capital campaign was led by David Moon, snaring pledged commitments, from private and public sources, of $1.7 million and enabling work to begin this past spring. The list of improvements is long: new air conditioning, new restrooms, a new box office, new fire escapes, new dressing rooms, new sound-proof doors for the stage area, new electrical work, refurbished brickwork on the north and south walls, improved handicapped access, and possibly new carpet and paint. This could mean a probable $350,000 overage when expenditures are done, $50,000 coming from unexpected expenses derived from having to dislodge giant rocks beneath the dressing rooms. And then there's the $1,000 that went to Varmint Busters for rat removal (though one nicknamed "Ratzilla" is still apparently on the loose).

"We need to solve that problem by going back to the public and private sector," says Dunlap. "...It's going to be necessary to go back to the city as well as the county and ask them to include us (in the budget) for one more year, and help us through this. Hopefully, if they see that we've been good stewards, they'll agree. But we're going to get a big bang for our buck in the end result, I'm confident of that."

Additionally, the theater will have a "Star" campaign in which contributors of $1,000 or more will be rewarded with a brass star inlaid in the sidewalk around the theater. While the theater plans on opening by December for its yearly Christmas pageant, the grand reopening is scheduled for March 1, 1999.

Interestingly, the key to the Bijou's success has been in children's theatrical programming and teaching, a niche its patrons from the '60s might have found surprising. Through the Bijou Children's Play Series and programs like Kidswrite (in which students write stories for production), the Bijou Theater Center has become an indispensable part of the community in exposing children to the dramatic arts. And once it has its air conditioning system in place, the Bijou will finally be able to stage year-round programming of all sorts, expanding its presence in Knoxville life considerably.

Closing Credits

Back upstairs in the Tennessee's projection room, Bill Burns is telling the story about his love and joy, the Capri 70, which opened on Kingston Pike in 1967, declared by Mayor Leonard Rogers to be "...the greatest single tourist attraction in Knoxville."

"Did you ever see a show there when it was in Cinerama?" he asks, eyes glowing. "Boy, it was beautiful! Six-track stereophonic sound, and that picture was 72 feet across the front of the theater—it was curved, and if you stood down in the center, it was 21 feet into the screen. And the lenses were special ground by Bausch & Lomb in California, just for that particular setup. It was just as sharp from one side to the other...And it never did a damn's worth of business extra."

But all that's in the past, along with all the other forgotten names of pleasure palaces sacrificed to time. Right now, let's consider the future.

"Damnit, if I'm still feelin' well and kickin', I'll go for 90. Why not?" declares Bill Burns. "It's very nice here, I enjoy comin' down. They hope, in the next five years, that they'll have it renovated. When they get this refurbished, it'll be beautiful. Hmph! I hope I'm around to see that."

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