THRILLVILLE: Will "the Thrill" Viharo's weird, wild world of Pulp Fiction, B Movies, & the Lounge Lizard Lifestyle.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Cerrito Theater Soap Opera: Wild at Heart

I haven't been updating this blog as much as I'd like because I've been pretty busy defending my job. The Cerrito Speakeasy Theater, current and hopefully future home of Thrillville, is at risk of being a casualty of the ongoing financial and legal problems between its operators, my old friends Kyle and Catherine Fischer, and the city. Similar circumstances recently sunk the beloved Parkway. As programmer for both, I had as much to do with this stuff as the pizza cook. I was thankfully kept out of that loop. I feel badly for my pals, who brought a lot of joy to this community with this venture, but now that they're moving on, I have to look out for my own family and home.

People I already work for, who along with their partners run a couple of theater chains in the Midwest, are making serious bids for both the Cerrito and the Parkway, with me not only retaining my position as programmer, but expanding it. The staff and basic format would be kept intact as well. I know there are adverse forces also trying to get control of both properties, which would not be good news for Thrillville, and Bay Area cult movie fans in general. Please advocate your support for Thrillville at the Cerrito by contacting the city council and letting them know you want this type of programming to continue, and the best way to ensure this is if Will the Thrill and his people are handed the reins for a smooth transition. This offers the comfort of continuity but also the excitement of new possibilities, broader horizons, and transparency of operations.

It's not all about me and Thrillville - it's about the East Bay movie-going scene as a whole. Beloved local institutions like the Fine Arts and UC Theatre in Berkeley have all been victims of an ever-evolving media market. The Cerrito is a final outpost of outre programming - the cult films, the classics, the independents, even the best family films all have a home here. I plan to continue this tradition, but I'll need your support.

Last night I had the honor of hosting my friend, local literary legend Barry Gifford, for a screening of David Lynch's Wild at Heart (the "X-rated" version though I still can't figure out the difference.) Barry was signing copies of his brand new Sailor and Lula book, The Imagination of the Heart, provided by the fine folks at Pegasus in Berkeley. It was a packed house and another unique evening of edifying entertainment at the Cerrito. I got misty at the thought of losing this. I hope it can continue. Stay tuned.