CHAMPAIGN – The last thing an actor wants to do is judge his or her character, Alan Rickman says.
"It's particularly a challenge to play people who actually lived, like Rasputin or Michael Collins," said Rickman, who has portrayed the Russian mystic and the Irish independence leader. "I feel a huge responsibility not to judge them."
DANVILLE – City officials plan to apply for a state grant soon to help with the renovation of Carver Park.
Local leaders asked the public in February for ideas, suggestions and volunteers to help steer the park's future. An independent redesign committee has since formed and meets every two weeks.
CHAMPAIGN – Finding the money to make the sci-fi movie "Gattaca," which opened the ninth annual Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival on Wednesday night, was no problem, said co-producer Michael Shamberg.
The real problem was getting people to see it.
CHAMPAIGN – The ninth annual Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival opens tonight at the Virginia Theatre with the famous critic taking on a new role from a specially installed La-Z-Boy – that of an audience member.
The usually loquacious Ebert, who cannot talk due to a tracheostomy, might go onstage a couple of times during his festival but will not introduce each of the 13 films nor lead the discussions afterward, as he always did in previous years.
URBANA – Three candidates with plenty of experience with the Urbana Park District are seeking two park board seats in Tuesday's election.
Michael Walker has been president of the park board since 2003 and he's been on the board for 24 years.
CHAMPAIGN – A veteran member of the Champaign Park District board is being challenged in Tuesday's election by a local environmentalist.
Newt Dodds, a 35-year member of the park board, is being challenged by Rob Kanter, a 45-year-old writer and editor who is active in a number of local conservation groups.
DANVILLE – The recent unseasonably cold temperatures prompted city officials to heat up the water pipes at the city's parks and pool.
"We really had to do a lot of scrambling this weekend," said Steve Lane, parks and public property superintendent.
DANVILLE – Though the AMBUCS Playground for Everyone opened in 2001, Bob Richard's work on the 30,000-square-foot, universally accessible structure in Winter Park did not end.
The playground co-chairman helped add an open-air pavilion and other amenities to draw more families to the park. Then he and co-chairs Bill Fulton and his nephew, Bill Fulton, put their knowledge of building playgrounds and desire to help others into two more projects – AMBUCS Independence Playground, which opened in Lincoln Park in 2004, and AMBUCS Sprayground for Everyone that's in the works for Garfield Park.
OAKWOOD – As a young Boy Scout at Camp Robert Drake, Phil Dawkins remembers planting pine trees that barely stood knee high as a service project.
On Saturday morning, Dawkins and his son, Matthew, a scout with Troop 101 out of Champaign, were pitching tents at Camp Drake as the breeze was whistling through those same pine trees that now reach about 60 feet high.
FARMER CITY – The director of the group that runs the Farmer City Fair says his organization has offered a park on the south side of town and prime development land next to the Interstate 74 interchange in exchange for the fairgrounds.
If the Farmer City Council agrees with the proposal, it could end a standoff between the association and the city that has stretched for nearly three decades.