Thursday, June 30, 2011

'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy:' Let The Wrong One In?

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2011 at 3:23 PM

Now here's a remake we can get behind. Tomas Alfredson, director of the original Let the Right One In, helms a big-screen adaptation of John LeCarre's classic espionage novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Inspired by the case of Kim Philby, a high-ranking British Intelligence officer who turned out to be a double agent for the Soviet Union, Tinker, Tailor depicts mild-mannered spymaster George Smiley (Gary Oldman in low-key Commissioner Gordon mode) who comes out of retirement to uncover an active mole among England's covert agencies. Technically the book's never been a motion picture before, but the BBC adapted a seven-part miniseries version in 1979, with Alec "Ben Kenobi" Guinness playing George Smiley. (Apparently Guinness so owned the Smiley role on the TV versions that LeCarre felt he could no longer write the character.)

Anyway, the new Tinker, Tailor opens Sept. 16 and the cast looks like a who's who of popular British actors. Joining Oldman are newly-minted Oscar-winner Colin Firth, Inception's Tom Hardy (tapped to star in the Mad Max reboot and play bad guy Bane in the Dark Knight sequel), Green Lantern's Tom Strong, Ciarin Hinds (Julius Caesar from HBO's "Rome"), Stephen Graham ("Boardwalk Empire's" Al Capone), Christian McKay (Orson Welles in Me and Orson Welles), Toby Jones (Truman Capote in Infamous, the voice of Dobby the house elf), John Hurt (everything) and Benedict Cumberbatch (the title role in "Sherlock," the voice of Smaug the dragon in The Hobbit). If a bomb goes off on opening night, the film industry is done for. Here's the trailer:

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'Six Dance Lessons' steps over to Stage Door Players

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2011 at 2:59 PM

SHALL WE DANCE? Robert Egizio and Jackie Prucha
Stage Door Players gets on its toes with its remount of Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks, running July 14-Aug. 7. Stage Door artistic director Robert Egizio relocates Georgia Ensemble Theatre's 2008 production of the two-actor dramedy, which stars Egizio as gay dance instructor Michael Minetti opposite Jackie Prucha as the elderly wife of a Baptist minister. Georgia Ensemble Theatre director Robert J. Farley, who directed the previous version, also helms the new one as it moves from Roswell to Dunwoody. I reviewed their original production of Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks in January of 2008:

Showing expert comic timing, Prucha and Egizio prove to be nimble on their feet, but Richard Alfieri's script keeps them boxed in. The title is nearly a misnomer; although the action takes place at Lily's condo in St. Petersburg Beach, Fla., during the appointed lessons, the pair spends most of its time in cycles of bickering and bonding rather than practicing the tango or the waltz. A gay former "chorus boy" from New York City, Michael generates most of the friction with his hot temper and assumption that Lily, the wife of a Baptist minister, may be a bigot. Despite arguing and exposing each other's lies, the two inevitably become friends and share painful experiences from their pasts, as per the formula for comedies about mismatched pairs.

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Feds shut down Atlanta-NYC bus, leaving us stranded

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2011 at 2:56 PM

Budget travelers looking for a (relatively) cheap, last-minute ticket to New York City for the weekend will have to look elsewhere.

Federal officials today ordered Doraville-based H & W Tour Inc. to "immediately cease all intrastate and interstate passenger service" for violations “so widespread as to demonstrate a continuing and flagrant general disregard for the safety of its passengers and the motoring public." The company provides passenger bus service between Georgia and New York City. Via the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the division that regulates such businesses:

Evidence obtained during a compliance review conducted today by FMCSA Safety Investigators disclosed that H & W Tour, Inc., continued transportation of passengers without federal operating authority and without the required level of insurance. The company failed to conduct pre-employment drug tests on its drivers and institute a random drug and alcohol testing program as required by federal regulations. The company failed to ensure that its drivers comply with hours-of-service requirements, records of duty requirements and driver’s qualification requirements. Buses were not properly inspected, maintained or repaired by the company as required by federal regulations.

A voice message left at a phone number listed on H & W Tour's website was not immediately returned. TheTrucker.com (!) says that, in addition to taking the company's buses off the road, today's order also exposes holes in federal officials' regulation of bus operators. Here's link to the PDF of the order.

In the out-of-service order issued Wednesday, the FMCSA said that on Jan. 1, 2006, the agency denied H & W Tour’s request for operating authority.

“However, five years later, H & W Tour flagrantly continues to transport passengers in interstate commerce in its commercial motor vehicles without the required operating authority from FMCSA,” the order said.

But FMCSA records clearly show that on Dec. 14, 2006, the agency conducted a compliance review on H & W Tour and issued the company a satisfactory safety rating.

As of mid-morning Thursday, FMCSA officials had not responded to a request to explain how the agency could conduct a compliance review and issued a satisfactory safety rating to a carrier which had no operating authority.

In addition, both of H & W Tour’s motor coaches were inspected in Georgia on Aug. 31, 2010, and the results of those inspections were posted on the FMCSA’s website without anyone at FMCSA figuring out that H & W Tour had no operating authority.

The site pointed some other discrepancies regarding insurance, as well. Worth a look.

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Morning Newsdome: Today is Glenn Beck's last day on Fox News

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2011 at 11:19 AM

>> France became the first NATO country today to openly acknowledge arming Libyan insurgents, but Russia says the deal violates the U.N. arms embargo. Russia also has veto power in the U.N. Security Council where the weapons airlift issue could come up. Listen to Russia, they would never arm rebels. (Reuters)

>> With negotiations for raising the nation's debt ceiling at a standstill, President Obama took the Republicans to task: "If everybody else is willing to take on their sacred cows ... then I think it would be hard for the Republicans to stand there and say that, 'The tax break for corporate jets is sufficiently important that we're not willing to come to the table and get a deal done.'" Tell it, "dick!" (CBS News, Politico)

>> The FBI trained their agents yesterday by having them interview the "God Hates Fags" wing-nuts Westboro Baptist Church. Officials said that agents need to know how to personally engage crazies while figuring out what makes them tick. Keep your friends close, and Westboro closer. (NPR)

>> A U.S. federal official canceled the deportation of a Venezuelan man living in New Jersey that married an American man in Connecticut. Advocates say it's a huge policy shift for the deportation of "vulnerable populations" following the Obama administration's abandoning the Defense of Marriage Act in February. I can see why the American man wouldn't want to let go of this spicy salsa dancer. (the New York Times)

>> And finally, as celebrated in the video above: Toady is Glenn Beck's last day on Fox News—hallelujah! And we ask ourselves the same question he posed: "Do you really believe that I could or anybody here at Fox News could just make things up and remain on the air?" (Media Matters)

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5 things today: Kool Keith, Gone With the Wind

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2011 at 9:00 AM

Margaret MItchell published Gone With the Wind 75 years ago

1. Kool Keith plays the Earl
2. Celebrate the 75th anniversary of Gone With the Wind at the Atlanta History Center
3. Radcliffe Bailey continues at the High
4. Food trucks converge on the Woodruff Arts Center
5. Hobo With a Shotgun continues at the Plaza

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5 things today: Kool Keith, Gone With the Wind

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2011 at 9:00 AM

Margaret MItchell published Gone With the Wind 75 years ago

1. Kool Keith plays the Earl
2. Celebrate the 75th anniversary of Gone With the Wind at the Atlanta History Center
3. Radcliffe Bailey continues at the High
4. Food trucks converge on the Woodruff Arts Center
5. Hobo With a Shotgun continues at the Plaza

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Atlanta City Council OKs pension overhaul. Now comes the budget

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2011 at 8:34 AM

After months of sleep-inducing meetings, public fights and twisted arms, the Atlanta City Council last night unanimously approved an overhaul of City Hall employees' ballooning pension plans. The move makes Atlanta one of the first major cities in the U.S. to tackle the issue — and, according to Mayor Kasim Reed and financial officials, possibly staves off a financial crisis.

“One year ago, the City of Atlanta’s pension plan could fairly be compared to a sub-prime loan in which the city was investing $110 million per year without one penny of that amount going to pay down its $1.5 billion unfunded pension liability,” the mayor said in a statement. “Today, because of the courage of the Atlanta City Council and the women and men who work for the City of Atlanta, we have faced this problem head-on, and through shared responsibility, we have taken a critical groundbreaking step toward resolving it.”

Under the new plan — which actuaries say could save $22 million the first year, or $270 million over the next decade — current employees must contribute an extra five percent of their paychecks to keep their existing benefits. New employees must participate in a hybrid plan that mixes traditional pensions and 401(k)-type plans similar to those in the private sector. City officials also raised the retirement age for new employees, police officers and fire fighters, among other measures.

Much talk during Wednesday afternoon's special-called meeting centered around Councilman Howard Shook's (ultimately successful) push to require a "cap" on the city's contribution to pension plans when financial markets inevitably turn sour.

“The reform I had to have — and probably wouldn't have been in the legislation otherwise — was a safety net protecting taxpayers from continuing to foot the bill for poor market returns or any other flawed actuarial assumptions," Shook said in a statement. "If the city's contribution exceeds a certain threshold, a plan to correct the imbalance is required, and half of any sustained funding shortfall must be borne by the employees. The plan thus earned my vote.”

We hear that requests have been made to the city's human resources to brief employees about the plan. Those who'll most need the briefing are lower-level employees, who City Hall sources say might be unprepared for how big a dent the contributions will make in their paychecks.

Now the real fun — approval of next year's $545 million budget — begins. The savings achieved from the pension plan, Ernie Suggs reports, are expected to offset layoffs and salary cuts for high-level employees proposed under the mayor's budget. But expect activists to show support for their causes. Council's scheduled to start debating the spending plan at 9 a.m.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What to do this Fourth of July in Atlanta

Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2011 at 5:11 PM

JOEFF DAVIS
  • JOEFF DAVIS
July Fourth. FIREWORKS. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know the deal: Head to somewhere with a good view near Olympic Centennial Park in Downtown or Lenox Square in Buckhead for the spectacular, patriotic, oooh-and-aaaah-worthy displays of colorful explosions. If you're looking for something a little different for the Fourth, though, we've got some ideas for you.

Feeling like a true patriot? Decline all invitations to Independence Day parties by explaining, in a self-righteous tone, that the Fourth is amateur night for fair-weather flag wavers and that true-motherfucking-patriots are celebrating freedom the other 364 days of the year, okay?

Cruise to the grooves with the Yacht Rock Revue at the Georgia Aquarium's Red White and Brew festival.

Not to forget the American baseball tradition. Turn up at Turner Field as the Braves play the Colorado Rockies, wear red, white and blue (the team's colors) and get yourself a beer and a hotdog. Feel that spirit yet?

Read Ron Kovic's memoir Born on the Fourth of July and get really, really, really bummed out.

Continue reading »

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Proposal to keep bars open until 4 a.m. goes down in flames

Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2011 at 3:31 PM

Don't know how to break it to you, ya late-night carousers. So we'll just be blunt.

Atlanta City Council member Kwanza Hall during the 2009 public hearing about extending bar hours.
  • Joeff Davis/CL File
  • Atlanta City Council member Kwanza Hall during the 2009 public hearing about extending bar hours.

The Atlanta City Council Public Safety Committee unanimously voted yesterday to block Councilman Kwanza Hall's legislation that would allow bars to pour alcohol until 4 a.m. Monday through Saturday.

Hall has long championed the measure, arguing that it could help boost the city's nightlife and generate additional tax revenue. But none of his colleagues who sit on the Public Safety Committee, the measure's first stop in the legislative process, consider it a wise idea.

"We've enjoyed a downward trend in crime," said Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean. "When we had extended bar hours in the Buckhead area there was nothing but trouble... It's a big safety issue to me. I don't think we have the bandwidth to keep our city safe with these extended bar hours."

Councilwoman Joyce Shepherd said previous discussions about rolling back bar hours often turned into divisive fights.

"There's a long history of why we turned it back from 4 a.m. back down to 2 [a.m.]," said Councilwoman Joyce Shepherd. "We're not at a point to go back and revisit that."

Hall's legislation that would ease the restrictions on food trucks was held to allow the city law department more time to vet the proposal.

Hall's office said he'd offer us a comment after the pension reform vote, which should start any minute. (Watch live here.) We'll update when we hear word.

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The 'coming out' stories of six undocumented students arrested yesterday near the Gold Dome

Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2011 at 1:47 PM

Rolando Zenteno, 16, is arrested during yesterdays immigration rally near the Gold Dome
  • Joeff Davis
  • Rolando Zenteno, 16, is arrested during Tuesday's immigration rally near the Gold Dome
The six undocumented students arrested yesterday near the Gold Dome for blocking traffic while protesting the Georgia's immigration policies had their first appearance in court today. One of those charged, 16-year-old Georgia resident Rolando Zenteno, says he was brought to the United States by his parents as a seven-year-old child. Zenteno's joined a growing number of undocumented immigrants across the country who have "gone public" about their citizenship status.

CL obtained the remarks that Zenteno and others drafted for yesterday's rally, which Capitol Police say attracted an estimated 200 people:

My name is Rolando Zenteno and I am undocumented.

Picture a seven year-old kid brought to this country by parents who contemplated the cruel reality of their lives and decided to enter the United States in a pursuit of a better life. A kid who had no say or voice, whose imagination was the source of all his happiness. It was in this pursuit that I tagged along.

I brought along a pocket full of fainted memories and a young mind confined to few experiences. We arrived at an apartment we shared with another family. We did not have the luxury of a bed, extra clothes or other possessions. We had ambitions though, and together we began building a better life. I had no clue what was going on; everything around me was different, but I was adapting. And so my life began.

Read the rest of Zenteno's story after the jump. Read the stories of the other people who were arrested yesterday, in PDF form, here.

Continue reading »

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