CHAMPAIGN – In movie parlance, Chuck and Eileen Kuenneth of Chicago "met cute" in one of Roger Ebert's continuing-education film classes at the University of Chicago back in the 1980s.
Now they're married and in their third year of attending Roger Ebert's Film Festival at the Virginia Theatre in Champaign.
URBANA – Relaxing on the patio outside the University of Illinois president's home Wednesday evening, British actor Timothy Spall was pondering whether he would sit through the four-hour movie "Hamlet."
The versatile Spall plays Rosencrantz in the film, which opened the 10th annual Roger Ebert's Film Festival at the Virginia Theatre shortly after the reception at the UI president's home.
"We're both seriously jet-lagged," Spall said of himself and his wife, Shane. "It's a toss-up."
CHAMPAIGN – The 10th annual Roger Ebert's Film Festival opens this evening at the Virginia Theatre without the main man.
In his blog today, the Chicago Sun-Times movie reviewer and Urbana native wrote: "After consulting with my doctors, I have decided it may not be prudent to try to make the journey today with a fractured hip."
CHAMPAIGN – The Jordin Sparks concert at the University of Illinois Assembly Hall, scheduled for Friday, has been canceled. An Assembly Hall press release said the former American Idol winner can't perform due to an "acute vocal cord hemorrhage condition."
"Sparks has been ordered to strict vocal rest and will not be able to perform anywhere until her condition improves," the release said.
CHAMPAIGN – Roger Ebert says his 10th annual film festival, opening Wednesday at the Virginia Theatre in Champaign, must go on, even in the event he is unable to attend.
On Friday, his wife, Chaz Ebert, said her husband is recovering at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago from surgery to repair a minor hip injury.
URBANA – There's a saying that's been applied to both the '60s and the '70s, that if you remember them, you weren't really there.
Not true. A few dozen former or current hippies spent the weekend at the Red Herring Coffee House talking about burning draft cards, watching psychedelic films, preaching peace, listening to Dan Fogelberg, working while under the influence of a weedy substance and eating veggie food.
URBANA – University of Illinois senior psychology major Ji hae Lee, who uses a wheelchair to get around, said most products designed for people with disabilities focus on function.
"They're really ugly and institutional looking," she said. "I am not willing to use the products because they're so stigmatized."
CHAMPAIGN – It's 7:10 a.m., it's dark, 39 degrees out – isn't this supposed to be spring? – and two friends are the first in line for individual tickets at Roger Ebert's Film Festival.
Jo Ellen Brown and Jeannette Lewin, Champaign friends for 21 years, have barely slept. Lewin had just gotten back Thursday night from Florida, her tan glowing in the morning chill as evidence.
CHAMPAIGN – Roger Ebert will be getting a little help from his friends during his 10th annual film festival in Champaign.
Time magazine movie critic Richard Corliss, Chicago Tribune critic Michael Phillips and Richard Roeper, Ebert's Sun-Times colleague and partner in the weekly movie-review television program "Ebert & Roeper," will fill in for him onstage during Ebertfest, or Roger Ebert's Film Festival, April 23-27 at the Virginia Theatre. They will take turns questioning festival guests after the screenings.
NEW YORK – New York independent film fans, who might not be able to find Hoopeston on a map, know a little more about the small Vermilion County town today.
A feature-length documentary titled "Hoopeston" premiered Thursday night at the New York Underground Film Festival, which was founded in 1994 and is known for innovative, experimental and sometimes controversial films.