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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Big Changes at Portland's Hollywood Theatre: Richard Beer Out, Dan Halsted In? (UPDATED.)

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Tue, Feb 1, 2011 at 11:42 AM

hollywood.GIF
There's at least one big change that's gone down in the past week at Film Action Oregon and the Hollywood Theatre: Richard Beer, the longtime artistic director for Film Action Oregon and the Hollywood Theatre, claims to have been fired.

Perhaps not coincidentally, recent emails regarding the Hollywood Theatre's operations have been sent by Dan Halsted, the guy behind the Grindhouse Film Festival and the Portland International Film Festival's PIFF After Dark series.

Neither a phone call nor an email to Film Action Oregon Executive Director Doug Whyte have been returned. When contacted about the situation, Halsted responded, "I'm not authorized to say anything right now."

I was able to easily get a hold of Beer, however, who offered a polite, if not particularly helpful, "No comment." He then added, "I can say that I am no longer with Film Action Oregon and the Hollywood Theatre, and it was not my choice."

Beer (along with Halsted, and a slew of other local film peeps) recently contributed to the Mercury's rundown of 2010 in film.

Stay tuned to Blogtown for updates.

UPDATE: A couple of updates after the jump.

UPDATE, 1:04 PM: Whyte just emailed me Film Action Oregon's official statement on the matter, signed by President of the Board of Directors of Film Action Oregon Andrew Schpak.

On behalf of Film Action Oregon’s (FAO) Board of Directors I want to make you aware of an important personnel change within the organization. Like most non-profits in the arts arena, FAO has been strongly affected by the current economic downturn. In order to ensure the long-term viability of the organization and improve our present fiscal standing, we were forced to make the difficult decision to eliminate the artistic director position. For nearly 14 years, this position was held by Richard Beer. We appreciate the many years of service that Richard has provided to FAO and wish him the best in his future endeavors.

I want to ensure you that our team - led by Executive Director Doug Whyte, Education and Outreach Director Justen Harn, and our Board of Directors - is strong and committed to the organization and the historic Hollywood Theatre.

I welcome you to be in touch if you have any questions or concerns. I appreciate your ongoing support of FAO.

Best,

Andrew Schpak

I've got some follow-up questions in to Schpak and Whyte about how the elimination of that artistic director position will affect Film Action Oregon, not to mention the Hollywood's screenings and events. I've also asked for clarification on Halsted's position in the organization. You know the drill, folks: Stay tuned for updates.

UPDATE, 3:40 PM: A couple of emailed responses from Whyte below. Bullet pointed, 'cause who doesn't like bullet points?

• "Richard was not 'fired,'" Whyte says. "His position was eliminated for economic reasons." He adds, "Film Action Oregon will not be hiring a new artistic director." Sounds like they don't need to, because....

• Dan Halsted will be taking over the Hollywood's booking, at least for the time being. Halsted's title is "head programmer/technical director." "We decided on this title because in the short run, Dan will be taking the lead on film programming, but in the future we hope to provide opportunities for input from many different 'programmers,'" says Whyte. Whyte also notes that "All of the duties of the artistic director position will be redistributed among current staff members."

• Whyte says these changes will bring about more "unique events" at the Hollywood, like their premiere of Portlandia a few weeks ago, and in May, a "three-day music and film fest in partnership with Bridgeport Brewing." (I'd also hazard a guess that—thanks to Halsted's grindhouse background—we'll see more genre and grindhouse-style flicks playing the Hollywood, too, but we'll see how that plays out over the next few months.)

• Whyte also made a point of mentioning that the Hollywood "recently received approval from the OLCC to begin selling beer and wine," and "hope to begin serving in the next couple of weeks!" This is, potentially, another big shift for the Hollywood: Depending on what movies they decide to show, and if they continue to charge the same admission (tickets are currently $5-7), the Hollywood could take over some of the more event-style screenings that currently take place at theaters like Cinema 21 and the Bagdad. Or, on the other hand, the Hollywood could just turn into one more theater pub in a city that's already crammed with 'em. Much like how the theater's new booking situation plays out, it's something we'll keep an eye on.

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