The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 3, 1997 · Page 7
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 7

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Friday, October 3, 1997
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Page 7
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THE SALINA JOURNAL NEWS FRIDAY, OCTOBER 3, 1997 'Soul Food' feeds appetite for films about regular black families By JOHN HORN The Associated Press LOS ANGELES — Morning rush hour is over, yet gridlock is starting to build along Martin Luther King Boulevard in South Central outside the Magic Johnson Theatres. The crush is caused by "Soul Food," a new movie galvanizing black movie-goers around the country. "Soul Food," which premiered last weekend, the same day as "The Peacemaker," has made a far better impression than the heavily promoted George Clooney thriller. Yet the real appeal of "Soul Food," a drama about an extended Chicago family that unfolds over a series of dinners, cannot be told in ticket sales alone. Like 1995's "Waiting to Exhale," the movie is connecting with black audiences on a deeply personal level, a feat accomplished by few other major studio films. "I think this film really depicts how black families really are," said 51-year-old Jo Brice Thomas, who was at a Wednesday morning showing. "It makes me want to go back and get my family together." Instead of gun-toting hoods or jive-talking cutups, "Soul Food" offers real-life characters grappling with familiar problems. The movie features Vanessa Williams, Vivica Fox and Michael Beach of television's "ER." Irma Hall plays Mother Joe, the matriarch who presides over family meals of fried catfish, ham, cornbread, collard The Associated Press Steve Smith and his mother, Betty, leave the Magic Johnson Theatres in Los Angeles after seeing the movie "Soul Food." "I am Mother Joe," Betty Smith says of the film's matriarch. greens, macaroni and cheese, potato salad and peach cobbler. In its debut, "Soul Food" almost took in more money than "The Peacemaker," even though "Soul Food" was playing in only half as many locations. "The Peacemaker" took in $12.3 million in its debut, with a per-screen average of $5,213; "Soul Food" grossed $11.2 million, for a per-screen average of $8,363, the highest of any of the Top. 20 movies. It remains unclear if "Soul Food" will cross over and get the broader-based following usually needed for blockbuster returns and major awards, "I hope the white audience will come but and support it," said the movie's director, George Tillman Jr. "The white audience feels uncomfortable in a theater with a lot of African- Americans. But once they're there, they enjoy the movie." Even with the success 'of "Waiting to Exhale," most movies aimed at black audiences are either gang-related dramas or broad, misogynistic comedies. In fact, when Tillman first pitched the story, Hollywood executives told him it wasn't bloody enough for a black film and turned him away. And two of the coming-attractions previews shown before "Soul Food" — "Most Wanted" and "Jackie Brown" — were filled with black characters weighed down by automatic weapons. "But I didn't grow up like that. That's not my life. I wasn't in a gang," said Lea Moore, 32. " 'Soul Food' gave me a sense of self, a sense of my family." At Johnson's theater complex, "Soul Food" is playing on five screens, a new show starting every 30 minutes from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. "We're selling out shows two and three hours in advance," said theater manager Silvio Rodriguez. "People are showing up at 5 p.m., and they're not getting in until 9:30 or 10 o'clock." The film is also playing to packed houses across the country. 20th Century Fox says the audience is 85 percent black, 65 percent female. "In the niche they are aiming for, it hit a home run," said Tom Borys, chief operating officer of the box-office research firm Entertainment Data Inc. "Could it be a crossover hit? There's some hint it might be, but it's too early to tell." Among a throng of movie-goers spilling out of the Johnson theaters are Steve Smith, 41, and his 68-year-old mother, Betty. They are the eighth and ninth members of their extended family to see "Soul Food." "This relates to me. I am Mother Joe. I am the cook," said Betty Smith, who presides over holiday dinners for 30 relatives. "This movie hit home." rNATO U.S. likes potential NATO members' progress b )zech Republic, Poland, Hungary are training Jroops in NATO methods i.- jEty The Associated Press ! ; MAASTRICHT, Netherlands — befense Secretary William Cohen (expressed satisfaction with jprogress by Poland, Hungary and [the Czech Republic toward NATO (membership but warned that they will have to bear most of the costs jjf attaining alliance standards. C "There is no free lunch," Cohen paid Thursday. ! Speaking at the end of an infor- ]mal two-day session of NATO defense ministers, Cohen also said he and his colleagues agreed on a [•gradual drawdown" of NATO's 85,000 peacekeepers in Bosnia. |V IVORY |5 elephants edby The reduction will not begin until next year, after a decision on the size of the reduction leading to the end of the current peacekeeping mission in June 1998. The secretary would not specify whether U.S. or allied forces will have a military role in Bosnia afterward but said merely that the focus should be to support the Dayton COHEN peacekeeping accords. At present, about 9,000 Americans are part of the NATO Stabilization Force. "A gradual decline in the numbers of SFOR is advisable, rather than a precipitous drop" in June, Cohen said. On NATO membership, Cohen was queried about opposition in Congress to paying for the alliance's eastward expansion to bring in the three former Warsaw Pact members in 1999. "The bulk of the costs will be borne by the three new member countries," he said. "They are the countries that will have to measure up. There is no free lunch." Some NATO ministers worry over signs that people of the Czech Republic are less enthusiastic about NATO membership than in Hungary or Poland. Cohen stressed that public support is essential, particularly because alliance members must work together in good times as well as bad. Each nation's people must understand that both "benefits and burdens" are involved in NA- TO membership, Cohen said. Deputy Defense Minister Andrzej Karkoszka of Poland said the Polish military has been working hard to implement NATO methods, and several units are capable of working with their potential NATO partners. He cited in particular Polish troops serving with NATO peacekeepers in Bosnia. "We are ready to pay what's needed, and our economy is able to bear the cost," Karkoszka said. Cohen and NATO Secretary Gen- 'eral Javier Solana'said they were impressed by presentations of the three prospective members' defense ministers on progress toward aligning their military forces with NATO structures. As well, discussions were conducted on NATO's plans to extend its mutual defense pledge to cover the new members. Solana said bringing the three into the alliance will save money in the long run because members are able to coordinate their defense purchases. V MIR SPACE STATION Shuttle to leave station Astronaut Foale ready to put his feet back on ground after 4% months By The Associated Press SPACE CENTER, Houston — After dropping off a new computer and a new American crewman, the astronauts aboard space shuttle Atlantis hugged their Mir comrades goodbye Thursday before sealing the hatches for the trip home. "Be careful down there o'n Earth. It's awful close to the ground, and somebody could get hurt," astronaut David Wolf, who will spend the next four months aboard Mir, told his departing shuttle colleagues and everyone listening back on the planet. Atlantis docked -with the Russian space station Saturday. The shuttle is scheduled to undock today, leaving the creaky, HVi-year- old Mir in somewhat better shape than it was a few weeks ago, thanks to a new main computer. "We installed the computer, and it's working perfectly. Perfectly!" said Mir commander Anatoly Solovyov, rapping his fist on a metal table for good luck. The shuttle is bringing home American Michael Foale, who spent a tumultuous four and a half months aboard Mir. Foale is due back on Earth Sunday. "It's quite a long time to be in one place," he said, "and I'm looking forward to the adventure of learning how to walk again and live in my house with my wife and my children, get to know my wife again, date her again, maybe marry her again." Foale said he couldn't help but feel a little sad, too: "It's my friends here whom I'll be leaving behind." Aboard Mir, the 40-year-old astrophysicist had to deal with repeated computer breakdowns, power outages and the worst collision ever in space. An out-of-control cargo ship punctured the pressurized space station on June 25 and mangled a solar panel, wiping out half of Foale's science experiments and most of his belongings. CARROLL HAMILTON Roofing Company "ThtMarkofExcillMct" Saffna; MM 705-452-9224 Minneapolis: e»li 705-392-2868 1-800-864-4657 FREE Estimate . FlnilutlnthiFtlitAntwIdt . }y The Associated Press NAIROBI, Kenya — Poachers have killed five elephants and [hacked off their tusks in Kenya, jrenewing fears that poaching will surge as a worldwide ban on ivory Itrading is eased. j The five adult males were killed jin early September at Muge Ranch, a private reserve near Nanyuki, 90 miles north of Nairobi, the Kenya [Wildlife Service said Thursday. i The U.N. wildlife convention leased a 7%-year-old worldwide ban pn ivory trade June 19, voting to let three African nations make a one{time sale of 59 tons of stockpiled elephant tusks to Japan in 1999. The decision — opposed by Kenya — was condemned by animal-rights activists, who said it {would spark renewed elephant (slaughters by poachers. They argued that any trade would lead to poaching because of the difficulty in ensuring illegal ivory is not fluxed in with legal shipments. The slaughter of the five elephants — the first time ivory has seen poached in Kenya this year — alarmed Patrick Omondi, an jlephant expert with the wildlife service. "We are very, very concerned about our elephants," Omondi paid. "We are not sure what will happen to them with the downgrading of elephant protections." f Lindsey Gillson of Britain's pare for the Wild said she was worried about poachers. i "In the '70s and '80s there was a jguota for ivory sales, and that is (when the worst slaughter took place," she said. "It seems likely (that will happen again." Events of the Day lhc Salina Journal DON MOSIER 9th & Crawford 825-6227 "W Stoitf Building" See me for your insurance needs • Auto •• Home • Life • Farm • Business We'll always be there for you. Shelter Insurance Cot., Home Office: 1817 W. Broadway, Columbia, MO 65218 Car roll's Hallmark 200 S. 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