Monday, October 06, 2008

The Movie Wendy Couldn't Stop

As Citizen McCaw returns to Santa Barbara for one last round of theatrical showings, the biggest question in my mind is whether - as my friends in the 'hood might put it - will Wendy stay cool or will she come out of a bag?

The documentary returns to Santa Barbara this Thursday for a four day run. This is despite McCaw's efforts to frighten the filmmakers into keeping the film in the can.

On at least two occasions since the documentary on the meltdown at the News-Press had its last local showings in April, Wendy's lawyer Barry Cappello, has sent the film's producers letters basically threatening to sue them to kingdom come if they dared to show the film in public again.

The first letter, which was received by the producers in early May, warned them to "cease and desist further distribution, advertising or publication of the current version of the film."

A second letter from Cappello, dated June 11, was even more threatening.

Your consistent refusal to fact check your film and refusing to respond to our demand for a retraction supports our belief that you will continue to disparage Mrs. McCaw and the News-Press. However, you are on notice that your distortions of the truth will not go unchecked. Accordingly, by Monday, June 23, 2008, we expect to either have : 1) a written response from you acknowledging the clear falsehoods and distortions in your film and an affirmation that you will correct the deficiencies as stated in this and our May 4, 2008, letters; or 2) provide us with a new version of your film.

Any impact that June 11 letter may have had as an instrument of terror that was intended to strike fear in the hearts of the documentary's producers was quickly defused two days later when an appellate court ruled that McCaw's libel suit against Susan Paterno, the author of an article that raised questions about McCaw's stewardship of the News-Press, similar to those raised in Citizen McCaw, had no merit.

So any claim McCaw might potentially bring against the makers of "Citizen McCaw" for libel, is likely to go no further than the one she made against Paterno, which is nowhere.

And as far as I know, there have been no further communications from the McCaw camp to the makers of the film since the June 11 letter.

So, what do the producers have to say about all of this?

According to Rod Lathim:

This story is far from over, and although there are many things in the world to pull our focus, we will not let this story be swept under the carpet. The producers have put their money on the line and risked legal entanglements with McCaw so that the community can see the truth behind the News-Press meltdown. Countless people have mentioned that they want to see the film, so we are bringing it back for four screenings, but these will be the last local theatrical screenings we can afford to produce. The filmmakers will be in attendance and we will have discussions with the audience after each screening.

The Village People "couldn't stop the music." Wendy can't stop the movie.

So, while many of us this weekend will be munching on popcorn while we watch "Citizen McCaw" on the big screen for the last time, Wendy, in all likelihood, will be biting her tongue and gnashing her teeth.

Four more chances to catch Citizen McCaw if you haven't already seen it or want to see it again. I suggest that if possible, you purchase your tickets in advance at the Fiesta Five box office.

Last Chance to See Citizen McCaw

Metropolitan’s Fiesta Five Theatre

916 State Street, Downtown Santa Barbara

October 9, 10 and 11 at 7:30PM

October 12 at 2:30PM